The New Yorker’s “Comma Queen” Mercifully Explains the Difference Between Who/Whom, Lay/Lie, Less/Fewer & Beyond

From The New York­er comes “The Com­ma Queen” video series, which fea­tures Mary Nor­ris talk­ing about the fin­er points of lan­guage that come up again and again in our every­day writ­ing. Some of it, no doubt, will come in handy.

Nor­ris began work­ing at The New York­er in 1978, and has served as a copy editor/proofreader for much of that time. Suf­fice it to say, she can tell you some instruc­tive things about lan­guage.

Above, we start you off with Nor­ris explain­ing the dif­fer­ence “who” and “whom,” and then “lay” and “lie.” (Bob Dylan take note.) This oth­er clip — focus­ing on “less” v. “few­er” — gets into a pet peeve of mine. By the way, did I use those dash­es cor­rect­ly in the pre­vi­ous sen­tence? Well, there’s a video about that too.

You can watch all of the Com­ma Queen videos over at The New York­er, or via this YouTube playlist.

And it’s worth not­ing that Nor­ris has a new book out called Between You and Me: Con­fes­sions of a Com­ma Queen.

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