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Pat Watkins
Pat Watkins graduated from the University of Kansas' William Allen White School of Journalism (now school of Mass Communications) in 1975 and has worked for newspapers the succeeding 30 years. In that time he has written a few things that most people understood.

Contact Information
Phone: 912-876-0156
Address: 125 S. Main
  Hinesville, GA 31313
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Grammar and Writing Questions Answered by Pat Watkins »
Section: Grammar and Writing
Q:  Do newspapers still use Associated Press Style? When I was in journalism school, we had to memorize it but it seems today's copy editors are pretty ignorant of it. That's too bad, because it really makes reading the paper easier and less distracting.
A: 

Few newspapers have ever gone 100 percent by AP's style. When I went through j-school we studied, AP's, The New York Times, Chicago Tribune and a few other style books, including the Kansas City Star's since it was the closest metropolitan newspaper to my school.

Other news organizations' style books are, generally, based on AP's, but there are many, many variables based on geography and demographics of readers. For the newspapers in military communities, for example, it makes a lot more sense to use military abbreviation for ranks instead of AP's because most readers are either active duty, retired, dependents or associated with the military.

What you are probably finding harder and more distracting in reading papers in recent years is the impact of the immediacy of the Internet and financial strains newspapers are feeling. News organizations are putting fewer resources into editing and we are feeling a lot more pressure to get information out as quickly as possible.


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Section: Grammar and Writing
Q:  hey there.... what's the problem with all them dangling participle!
A:  Forgive me for answering with a question. But I need to know where all them dangling participle are/is at before I know if there is a problem with them/it.

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Section: Grammar and Writing
Q:  When to use "who" and "whom". I can never get it straight, please help.
A: 

The book answer is that who is used as a pronoun when its reference noun is the subject of a sentence, while whom is the pronoun for the object of a sentence. Examples:

The woman who rented the room left the window open.

The woman to whom the room was rented left the window open.

 My answer is that whom is officially dead. Call the pallbearers and put that puppy in the ground. Not only do 99 percent of English speakers not understand the difference between the objective and subjective cases, it can be argued that whom becomes the subject of objective clauses when it is used correctly.

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Section: Grammar and Writing
Q:  My English teacher always rags at me about may and can. Say I want to go to the bathroom, I never know which word to use. What is the difference between may and can
A: 

Use may when you want permission. When you want your teacher to allow you to go to the restroom, use "may I go."

Can refers to ability. Never ask your English teacher if you "can go to the bathroom." He or she does not know if you are capable of using the restroom.

And listen more closely in class. I bet your teacher has explained those words and the difference between them more than once.


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Section: Grammar and Writing
Q:  Do fish get thirsty?
A:  The big ones, being held up for what must seem to them like endless photographs, probably experience something similar to thirst. Consider, though, that the fisherites among us contend the nervous systems of fish are not developed enough for them to experience much pain. And what would be thirst, except for pain?

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