The Grammar Factor – March 2011

Breakdown versus breakup

Reader’s question: Would you say breakup or breakdown to explain data in a table?

Answer: I would use breakdown because it implies analysing whereas breakup means taking things apart.

Franchised versus franchise

Reader’s question: Which of the following is correct?

     NewCo has 30 franchised stores.
     NewCo has 30 franchise stores.

Answer: I think the meaning is clear with either, but my preference is franchised stores because franchised describes the store model. However, when I googled franchise stores and franchised stores, franchise stores scored higher. That contradicts my preference!

Be interesting to know what people in the franchise industry prefer. If you know, please email  

Into and in to

Reader’s question: What is the difference between in to and into?

Answer: There is a growing tendency to join in and to in most instances.

     The thieves broke into the property.

However, in and to are still separate when in relates to the verb.

     She went in to check on the baby.


Reader’s question: Which is correct – masters degree or master’s degree?

Answer: Your choice. I would say masters degree because apostrophes sometimes drop out of commonly used expressions (and dates) where the meaning is obvious. Lynne Truss (Eats, Shoots and Leaves) would probably think you need one. This is a grey area.

I say more on this topic in my Punctuation Guide (available at for $9.95).

Reader’s question: A German reader asked which of the following sentences is correct.

     I regard you as brilliant.
     I regard you genius.

Answer: Regard as is idiomatic for ‘consider’, so I regard you as brilliant is correct.

I regard you genius is wrong. We use an adverb, not a noun, after regard – I regard you highly.  

Word of the year

The Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year 2010 is googleganger.

noun a person with the same name as oneself, whose online references are mixed with one’s own among search results for one’s name.

[google + (doppel)ganger ]’  
PS I had never seen this word before!


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