8 episodes

Welcome to the weird, wild, scintillatingly stylish, and syntactically sound world of RED PEN—the grammar podcast that won't put you to sleep.Brought to you by the Columbia Journalism Review and hosted by old buds Ryan Davis and Mike Laws, RED PEN plucks examples from the news (as well as from novels, music, movies—wherever!) to answer all those questions you were too afraid to ask in English class.Digressions may include: Green Day's early work, the oppressive atmosphere of latter-day Batman movies, and, of course, cats. Lots of cats.

Red Pen: A Grammar Podcast Columbia Journalism Review

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.7 • 22 Ratings

Welcome to the weird, wild, scintillatingly stylish, and syntactically sound world of RED PEN—the grammar podcast that won't put you to sleep.Brought to you by the Columbia Journalism Review and hosted by old buds Ryan Davis and Mike Laws, RED PEN plucks examples from the news (as well as from novels, music, movies—wherever!) to answer all those questions you were too afraid to ask in English class.Digressions may include: Green Day's early work, the oppressive atmosphere of latter-day Batman movies, and, of course, cats. Lots of cats.

    Prepositions: Totally okay to end sentences with

    Prepositions: Totally okay to end sentences with

    A deep dive into a "rule" that arguably never was—and certainly isn't now. So where did it come from? As usual, a poet's to blame. Digressions include the animal tranquilizer xylazine, the authorship of works credited to Shakespeare, the dubiousness of quotes attributed to Churchill, Restoration-era rap battles, and Beavis and Butt-Head.


    Questions/comments/ideas/snark go in the comments. We love you.


    Thing 1: Ryan Davis
    Thing 2: Mike Laws
    Producer: Amanda Darrach

    • 40 min
    Inflection Points

    Inflection Points

    You might've BID on a vintage loom on eBay—but if you didn't get it, you BADE it farewell. If you did, maybe you WOVE a pair of mittens so pretty your sister WEAVED through traffic to snag them. Verbs with different senses can be tricky, but it's nothing to get HUNG about (and certainly not HANGED over!). We're here to sort out these and other dual-use words, when we're not getting sidetracked by this year's deep bench of Best Actress contenders, Owen Wilson's Central American fashion statement, and how the word "wetted" makes Ryan giggle.

    Questions/comments/ideas/snark go in the comments. We love you.

    Thing 1: Ryan Davis
    Thing 2: Mike Laws
    Producer: Amanda Darrach

    • 1 hr 1 min
    Dangler Untangler: Make those modifiers sing

    Dangler Untangler: Make those modifiers sing

    As a grammar podcast, our aim is to edify as well as entertain. ---If you didn't see anything wrong with that sentence, you need this episode in your life. (If you did, hang around for some hockey locker room talk about vegans, libertarians, what Wednesday Addams got unforgivably wrong about Edgar Allan Poe, and how Mike once managed to weird out… John Waters?!)


    Questions/comments/ideas/snark go in the comments. We love you.


    Thing 1: Ryan Davis
    Thing 2: Mike Laws
    Producer: Amanda Darrach

    • 47 min
    'Fewer': One less thing to worry about

    'Fewer': One less thing to worry about

    The grocery store is where good grammar goes to die. But you needn't be afeard of "less" versus "fewer." It ain't that complicated. Except when it is. Digressions include Paraguayan beef, tightly tucked duvets, streaming services' subtitles, and how young Mike got hoodwinked by those 12-CDs-for-a-penny scams.
    Questions/comments/ideas/snark go in the comments. We love you.

    Thing 1: Ryan Davis
    Thing 2: Mike Laws
    Producer: Amanda Darrach

    • 38 min
    Misused and Abused, II: Compliments on a full complement

    Misused and Abused, II: Compliments on a full complement

    Homing in on honing our vocab, we effect various affects, gibing and jiving about words that don't jibe. Stick around for tangents on Bush v. Trump malapropisms, the dubious staying power of Stephen Colbert's "truthiness," and whether A Clockwork Orange can teach English-speakers conversational Russian.


    Questions/comments/ideas/snark go in the comments. We love you.


    Thing 1: Ryan Davis
    Thing 2: Mike Laws
    Producer: Amanda Darrach

    • 26 min
    Misused and Abused, I: Shimmying, jiving, possibly some words that have nothing to do with dancing

    Misused and Abused, I: Shimmying, jiving, possibly some words that have nothing to do with dancing

    "Bet," "based," "goated": we're in a brave new world of hyperfast coinage. But does this phase faze you? Are you nonplussed? Episode 2 provides the answers to help elegantly shimmy (or perhaps shinny) your way out of these uncomfortable questions. Divagations include: the merits of Goodfellas v. Casino, the shenanigans of Norman Mailer and other literary bad boys, and various ways to break out of jail.

    Questions/comments/ideas/snark go in the comments. We love you.

    Thing 1: Ryan Davis
    Thing 2: Mike Laws
    Producer: Amanda Darrach

    • 33 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
22 Ratings

22 Ratings

EpisodeFan116 ,

Love the concept!

Finally, two people exist who love to dissect grammar and common errors in English as much as I do!

Make a Memory ~ ,

The Whom Delemma

Thanks for clarifying who and whom. Although I don’t hear “whom” anymore, I always wondered how it should be used. I like your light banter too. Remember your rate of speech, though, for us old-timers!

anti clause ,

Fun and educational

This podcast is fun, entertaining and I always seem to learn a few things. I do have one question; I was in a meeting, and a coworker kept saying, “irregardless” I have no idea what she was talking about because once she’s repeated that word over and over again I kept thinking “is that a double negative?”

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