I Am Now Somewhat Chagrined By the Use of “Somewhat Of”

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A couple of days ago, after seeing it in an LA Times story, I wrote that the use of the phrase “somewhat of” was Just. Plain. Wrong. The head of the Times copy desks saw my post and tweeted, “I share your preference, old friend, but I have four dictionaries that accept ‘somewhat of.’ No error and not lash-worthy, I say.”

Oh yeah? What dictionaries are those? Webster’s New World Dictionary, he says. Um, really? That’s sort of embarrassing since it’s the dictionary I normally use too. In fact, my copy is about two feet from my left hand. And sure enough, there it is: “often followed by of.”

Later he added, “When given two valid options, I counsel going with the writer’s choice.” As a writer, I heartily endorse this attitude from copy editors, and obviously there are indeed two valid options here. I’m going to stick with “something of” myself, but no more lashes for anyone who disagrees.

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THE FACTS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES.

At least we hope they will, because that’s our approach to raising the $350,000 in online donations we need right now—during our high-stakes December fundraising push.

It’s the most important month of the year for our fundraising, with upward of 15 percent of our annual online total coming in during the final week—and there’s a lot to say about why Mother Jones’ journalism, and thus hitting that big number, matters tremendously right now.

But you told us fundraising is annoying—with the gimmicks, overwrought tone, manipulative language, and sheer volume of urgent URGENT URGENT!!! content we’re all bombarded with. It sure can be.

So we’re going to try making this as un-annoying as possible. In “Let the Facts Speak for Themselves” we give it our best shot, answering three questions that most any fundraising should try to speak to: Why us, why now, why does it matter?

The upshot? Mother Jones does journalism you don’t find elsewhere: in-depth, time-intensive, ahead-of-the-curve reporting on underreported beats. We operate on razor-thin margins in an unfathomably hard news business, and can’t afford to come up short on these online goals. And given everything, reporting like ours is vital right now.

If you can afford to part with a few bucks, please support the reporting you get from Mother Jones with a much-needed year-end donation. And please do it now, while you’re thinking about it—with fewer people paying attention to the news like you are, we need everyone with us to get there.

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