My blog, Sentence first, is where I write regularly about language, grammar, English usage, books, words, writing, editing, and more. It has received favourable mention from the Oxford English Dictionary, Economist, Guardian, TIME, AtlanticTelegraphIrish Times, Baltimore Sun, and many others.

From 2010 to 2020 I wrote a column on language for Macmillan Dictionary Blog. Recurring topics included slang, etymology, language change, and the politics of English usage. The blog went on hiatus in late 2020 and was closed, along with the website, in June 2023.

In 2014 I co-founded Strong Language, a popular group blog about the culture and linguistics of swearing. I contribute to it occasionally.

I’ve written for various other outlets, usually about language:

For the Guardian I wrote about the problems with policing children’s language, and the c-word’s taboo status.

For History Today I wrote a brief history of English spelling reform, with additional notes appended on my blog.

For the Stinging Fly I wrote a long essay on Irish English dialect, also known as Hiberno-English, particularly as it’s used in the west of Ireland. An abridged version was published in the Irish Times.

For Mental Floss I wrote about the different pronunciations of Celtic.

For the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) I wrote a paper titled ‘How well read should editors be?

For the Association of Freelance Editors, Proofreaders and Indexers of Ireland (AFEPI Ireland) I wrote about new year’s resolutions for editors and proofreaders.

For the Fortnightly Review I wrote about the nature of speech and radio, with reference to the film The King’s Speech.

For Slate I wrote about non-apology apologies, the gender of guy and guys, and other language-related things.

For Totaljobs I wrote about the importance of gender-neutral language in the workplace.

For ELT Journal I reviewed David Crystal’s book Evolving English: One Language, Many Voices. An Illustrated History of the English Language.

For Merriam-Webster I wrote about placeholder words like thingamajig, whatchamacallit, and Irish English yoke.

For The Journal in Ireland I wrote about the uses, meanings, and origins of the Irish word feck.

For Emphasis, a business-writing training company, I wrote about how to edit colleagues’ documentswhether and when to use long words, and how to reduce character count on Twitter (written when tweets were limited to 140 characters).

I’ve also written about language for English Matters (a European magazine for learners of English), Offpress (magazine of Editors Queensland), Anglo Files (magazine of the Danish Association of Teachers of English), Visual Thesaurus, and Time Traveller.

On non-linguistic topics, for CruiseTimes I wrote about Norway’s efforts to make travel more environmentally sustainable; for Ireland’s Education Yearbook (which I copy-edit) I wrote about issues in Irish education; for Irish Vintage Scene I wrote about the Gordon Bennett Irish Classic Run; for the defunct Sigla magazine I wrote short fiction and travel pieces; and for the defunct pop culture site Culch.ie I wrote about cult films.

Photo of some language books from my shelves. Many are reference books. Some are vertical, and others are stacked horizontally on top of these. The books shown are: The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language; The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (two volumes); The American Heritage Dictionary; A Student's Introduction to English Grammar; The New Oxford Style Manual; Words and Rules; The Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage; The Chicago Manual of Style; Good Style: Writing for Science and Technology; The Columbia Dictionary of Standard American English; The Oxford Companion to the English Language; Practical English Usage; Garner's Modern English Usage; Chambers Slang Dictionary; Evolving English; But Can I Start a Sentence with 'But'?; Effective Writing; The Elements of Editing; Lapsing into a Comma; Style: Toward Clarity and Grace; The King's English; The Handbook of Non-Sexist Writing; The Sense of Style; The Subversive Copyeditor; The Oxford Dictionary of English Grammar; The New Fowler's Modern English Usage; A University Grammar of English; A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics; The Merriam-Webster Guide to Punctuation and Style; On Writing Well; A Dictionary of Hiberno-English; Gobbledeook; Dictionary of Differences; The Reader Over Your Shoulder; Communication in Business; Style; and Mind the Stop.