Back to School with Her and I

After much pondering and many long discussions with my wife, I have decided to jump into the race for President of the United States 2020. I know it's a little early, and the campaign will be arduous, but I have been preparing myself for a long while, practicing the victory sign with both hands at the same time.

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You Insane Steaming Pile of Horsehockey

This Fourth of July, I wanted to do something different, so I exhumed three of our Forefathers for a beer.


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The Declaration of Independence

In Congress, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

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The Story of Y'all

I have been asked a lot of questions about words, writing, and grammar, but by far the most-asked question I have ever received is: How did people in the South start saying y’all? And why is the word used to refer to only one person? And what is the plural of y’all?

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No Word Left Behind

With WordRake's sixth anniversary behind us now, and the school year underway, WordRake announces one of the greatest breakthroughs in the annals of formal education. As of last midnight, WordRake has helped professionals remove 1,994,958,346,719 useless words, which we have collected and saved. As we pass the two-trillion mark today, we will now reverse the WordRake engine and redistribute all of those useless words to those who need them most: The American Student.

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In Havana Like with Hemingway

Like so many of life’s lessons, the ones we learn the hardest are the ones we learn the best. Take my wife (no pun here), who remembers so vividly making a mistake on a paper in graduate school over twenty-five years ago that she could go straight to a box in our garage and resurrect that paper with her professor’s edits. I hold it in my hand. She had written, “Like a brave warrior readies himself for battle, the tree and Christ become the image of horse and rider.” And, “The Cross tells the dreamer that it has been chosen and honored above all others in the wood, like Mary is honored over all other women.” In both sentences, her professor had crossed out like and replaced it with as. The rest of the pages lie virtually untouched. She still laments that mistake, because she cares about her writing. That’s why I have her edit mine.

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Emenem (Part III of III – The Hyphen)

If you have been sane far too long, and you miss the old days of total insanity, ponder why the Oxford American Dictionary would approve this sentence:

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Beautiful to the Bone

Take today’s Tip and about $7.95 plus tax to your local Starbucks to get one grande-double-hazelnut-caramel-combo-non-fat-extra-foam macchiato, absolutely free. Then take your grande-double-hazelnut-caramel-combo-non-fat-extra-foam-absolutely-free macchiato outside and listen for the sound of geese overhead. (Geese on the street or the parking lot behind the Starbucks will not work for this opportunity to show everyone how smart you are; the geese must be in the air.) Also, make sure you see a whole bunch of geese, not just one devoted couple. In Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and the Carolinas, maybe Virginia, pelicans will do.


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Emenem (Part II of III – The En Dash)

As you know, all grammarians are sadists. You can spot them in elementary school, boiling live frogs. When they reach maturity and start looking for a career, they naturally gravitate toward grammar. No longer satisfied with tying M-80s to the tails of stray cats, they grow up to inflict pain on the rest of us by creating dogma and waiting in the bushes for the rest of us to come along and step in it.

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Your Honor, You Are Stupid, You Suck, and Please Decide for Me

Many of you are lawyers; many of you hire lawyers. Lawyers are nice people—stay with me. One thing I love most about lawyers is that they work hard to be good at what they do (it’s not an easy way to make a living). But put them in a suit, hand them a briefcase, and say, "Go represent this guy," and they change personalities. It's like somebody performed a lobotomy and out with the frontal lobe went common sense. They start writing stuff like, "The Appellee brazenly claims . . . ." "Incredibly, the Appellee contends . . . ." "It is lame, circular reasoning for the Appellee to argue . . . ." "With amazing chutzpah and inexcusable gall, the Appellee suggests . . . ." Ironically, the lawyer who wrote those sentences was "the nicest litigator I've ever had a case against," according to opposing counsel. "Only when we got in front of the judge or wrote something for the judge to read, did he act like this." Put them in a suit, hand them a briefcase, and say, "Go represent this guy," and lawyers . . . .

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About Gary Kinder

Gary Kinder
Gary Kinder has taught over 1,000 writing programs for the American Bar Association, the Social Security Administration, PG&E, Kraft, Microsoft, and law firms like Jones Day, Sidley, and WilmerHale. His critically-acclaimed Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea hit #7 on the New York Times Bestsellers List.

In 2012, Gary and his team of engineers created WordRake editing software to provide writers a full-time, reliable editor; to save them time and money; and to give them the confidence their writing is as clear and concise as they can make it. The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office has awarded nine patents to WordRake's unique technology, and Harvard Law School has recognized WordRake as "Disruptive Innovation."