As far as people in the communications business go, I’m really not all that anal about rules regarding things like comma placement, hyphen usage, split infinitives and the like.
Basically, I like things spelled correctly, I like sentences and paragraphs that are coherent and flow well, and I like proper word choice.
That last subject area is something I have written about before and now, well, I am motivated to weigh in on it again. Today’s specific topics: The words both, cement and concrete.
Let’s start with the latter two.
If you are referring to a completed wall, patio, sidewalk, etc., it’s concrete. Cement, meanwhile, is the binding agent within concrete; beyond that, cement is a binding agent, period. Think of it as a type of glue.
I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve been editing a story and changed cement to concrete.
As for both …
Simply speaking, it commonly gets used where it’s just not needed, as in this passage from an upcoming letter to the editor about spy pilot Francis Gary Powers:
Mr. Wallechinsky and I both agreed that the CIA ordered Powers to lower his aircraft to a point where he could safely bail out and let the plane go down.
“Both agreed” is redundant; agreeing is something that you can’t do without someone else to agree with, thus the word both is needless.