Grammar

  1. Every English “Rule” Has An Exception: I Before E, Except, Well, A Lot of Things

    A lot of times you’ll come across articles about English grammar that are like “You can do X, but not Y, and if you do Z your writing will be bad and you should feel bad.” OK, ouch. On the one hand, yes, English does have a lot of helpful rules in place that have developed over hundreds of years. And yes, rules help standardize …

  2. Unlock the Full Potential of Punctuation Marks

    Punctuation marks have a lot of different uses. The period, question mark, and exclamation point are used to end sentences. The comma, semicolon, colon, and dash indicate a pause or break. Parentheses contain words, while hyphens combine them. Apostrophes show the omission of letters, and also show possession. Ending a Sentence A period (.) ends any sentence that forms a statement. Periods are also used …

  3. What Are You Doing, Action Verb?

    Action verbs are typically single words that describe what a person or thing in a sentence does (like run, write, yell, and think). So if it answers the question What is the subject doing? it’s the action verb. In the sentence “John paints the garage,” the subject is John. To find the action verb, ask yourself What is John doing? John paints, so the action …

  4. Quiz Yourself: When to capitalize “President”

    Meet the president: Mr. President Have you ever worried about when president should be capitalized? You should only capitalize it as a title before an individual’s name or when directly addressing a person in that role. You’ve probably seen plenty of variations in the news and on social media. But do you know when you’re actually supposed to capitalize titles like president or governor? Take …

  5. This or That: Do You Know the Difference Between Adjectives and Pronouns?

    Sometimes these two just look so similar. It can be easy to mix them up. The simplest explanation is that adjectives modify nouns or pronouns, and pronouns refer back to nouns that were mentioned earlier in a sentence or paragraph. Keep reading if you need more details. Using Adjectives Adjectives are useful for creating vivid descriptions because they can add specific traits to a person …

  6. Emphasis on Italics

    Italics are typically used to show emphasis or to denote titles of stand-alone works. Different style guides have different rules about what to italicize. Here are some good general guidelines, but the most important thing is to stay consistent within your work. Titles of Works In most cases, you should italicize the titles of complete works, like books or movies. Some style guides, like APA …

  7. Pesky Homophones: Too, To, And Two

    The three words too, to and two sound exactly alike but have three distinct usages! They are classic examples of what we refer to as homophones—words that are pronounced the same but have different meanings and spellings. They often end up in the wrong spot in written language as a result of an over-eager spellcheck program on your phone. Let’s examine which one fits in the …

  8. Say What? Direct Questions vs. Reported Dialogue

    A direct question is when you ask a question by speaking directly (e.g. “How are you doing today?”). Reported dialogue is when you report what someone else says (e.g. “Joan asked how you’re doing today.”). Reported dialogue usually uses the third person point of view. Direct Questions Direct questions usually include interrogative pronouns or adverbs. Interrogative pronouns and adverbs include words like as who, what, …

  9. When to Use Definite vs. Indefinite Articles

    Articles are a unique type of adjectives that indicate which noun (person, place, or thing) you’re talking about. The only definite article in English is the, and it refers to a specific noun. Indefinite articles (a or an) refer to nouns more generally. Indefinite Articles Indefinite articles refer to non-specific nouns. Think “I need a pen” or “I want an orange.” In both cases, we …

  10. Getting to Know Predicate Nominative and Predicate Adjective

    In general, a predicate completes a sentence by providing information about what the subject is or does. The subject of a sentence is who or what is doing the action. The predicate explains the action. There’s often a linking verb (like is or became) in between the two. A predicate nominative is a noun that completes the linking verb in a sentence. Predicate adjectives complete …

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