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What’s the difference between titled and entitled? Is it supposed to or suppose to? When are quotation marks inappropriate? And what the heck is an aphorism? Here’s a little enlightenment on these questions and other punctuation problems:
Titled vs. Entitled
“Titled” means that something has received a title, as in The movie was titled, Grammar Gurus Gone Wild.
“Entitled” means that someone has rights to something, as in She felt entitled to special treatment ever since she won an Oscar for Grammar Gurus Gone Wild.
What Are We Supposed (or Suppose) to Do?
Don’t use “suppose to” or “use to” when you mean “supposed to” or “used to.”
I Wonder How to Punctuate That?
Incorrect: I wondered how he knew that?
Correct: I wondered how he knew that.
Incorrect: I asked her if she knew that?
Correct: I asked her if she knew that.
Don’t Use Quotation Marks Indiscriminately
We’ve all run across signs like these, which use quotation marks to indicate special emphasis:
Today only, “free” samples! (Are they free or not?)
See these “classic” cars! (Is there a different definition of “classic” we’re not aware of?)
Employees must “wash their hands” before exiting the restroom. (Does this mean employees should only pretend to wash their hands?)
Creative writers sometimes use quotation marks to emphasize words or phrases, but this usually just lends confusion to an otherwise clear message:
It’s not really my “cup of tea.”
If you’re not careful, you could end up with the “swine flu.”
The moral of this story: Don’t use quotation marks unnecessarily or for special emphasis.
What Is an Aphorism?
An aphorism is a short, to-the-point sentence that sums up a clever observation or general truth:
The trouble with bucket seats is that not everyone has the same size bucket.
Writers are great. They taste like chicken.
With great power comes great responsibility. With mediocre power comes a 1964 Datsun pickup truck and a power suit from Sears.
When life gives you lemons, try making a lemon chiffon cake with extra lemon.
And finally, from Mark Twain:
Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.