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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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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