part-time, full-time (adj.)

> See: full-time

passive voice

Avoid it whenever you can.

The professor gave her a passing grade.
NOT She was given a passing grade by the professor.
His friend asked him for his notes.
NOT He was asked for his notes by his friend.

past v. last

I read it during the past year.
NOT I read it in the last year.

people, person, persons

No absolute rule exists for choosing between people and persons; people is less formal. Where possible, avoid the use of persons.

NOT Thousands of people applied for financial aid, but only five persons won full scholarships.

> See also: individual


One word. Write out the word percent rather than use the percent (%) sign—unless you're writing copy for a table or chart, as a design element, or you're trying to fit copy in a tight space or you are writing for a clinical/scientific audience. The number that appears with it is always a numeral.

Fewer than 1% of voters back this candidate.

Percent takes a singular verb when it stands alone or when it is followed by an "of" construction containing a singular word.

The teacher said 60 percent was a failing grade.

When the of construction contains a plural word, use a plural verb.

She said that 50 percent of the students were there.

> See also: numbers | percentage


Consult CMS regarding verb agreement. Use percent when you are reporting an actual figure, as in 50 percent.

Use percentage when you are describing a collective proportion:

A high percentage of Oxford students are from Georgia.
The greater your income, the higher percentage you are likely to save.


> See: academic degrees (Emory Specifics)


Colloquially, this word is considered acceptable as a synonym for and or moreover, but use it sparingly, if at all. Don't use plus to start a sentence; substitute furthermore, in addition, moreover, or similar words.


> See a.m.

poet laureate, poets laureate

point in time

At this point in time is redundant. Instead, say at this point OR at this time. Better yet, simply say now.


policy maker

postdoctoral (adj.), postdoctorate (noun)

postgraduate (adj.)

postsecondary (adj.)

practicum (noun)

The plural is practicums.

See also: curriculum | colloquium


> See: compound words

prelaw, premed, preprofessional

premier (adj.) premiere (noun)

Premier means first in rank, time, or importance:

Candler School of Theology is the premier seminary for United Methodists in the Southeast.

Because premier means first, there can't be more than one, and it can't be used with an indefinite article (i.e., a premier institution).

A premiere is the first showing or performance of a work.

The Schwartz Center premiered a composition by music professor John A. Lennon.

preposition at end of sentence

Positioning a single preposition at the end of a sentence is characteristic English idiom:

That's something this book can help you with.

It's now acceptable in written English to use a preposition at the end of a sentence; however, your writing will be stronger,  if you reserve the end of a sentence for strong, emphatic words, which prepositions aren't. Rephrase when you can:

This book can help you with questions of style.


Do not use to mean now. Presently implies soon; if you want to indicate now and avoid confusion, use currently instead.


Capitalize only when it directly precedes a proper name: President Gregory L. Fenves, President Barack Obama, Presidents Carter and Clinton

> See also: capitalization | titles of people


Capitalize only if it precedes a proper name. BUT lowercase if professor refers to a generic designation and is not an actual title:

Professor Erickson
She patterns her playing style after music professor Kyle Smith.

> See also: capitalization | titles of people

proved, proven

The past tense of prove is proved; Webster's suggests proved as the past participle:

The dean has proved her point.

But there are exceptions: A proven belief (adjective preceding noun)
That rumor has not been proven true. (with negative)

PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test)

Also known as PSAT/NMSQT (National Merit Scholar Qualifying Test). No periods.

> See also: ACT | SAT