Grammar

  1. Quiz Yourself: At Last, Suffixes!

    Let’s get to the bottom of this. A suffix is a group of letters added to the end of a word. Suffixes do so many things. They’re great when you want to chat briefly about going on a trip. Or when you’re shopping for a waterproof phone case to bring with you. Do you have your suffixes down? Take the quiz! Need a refresher? Just …

  2. Lions and Tigers and Bears, Et Al.

    Et al. is used to shorten the list of names when a writer refers to a book, article or other published work that has three or more authors. Et al. means “and others.” It’s an abbreviation of the Latin et alii. It’s mainly used by academic writers when they cite other authors’ work in a paper or article. In popular media, et al. may be …

  3. Quiz Yourself: It’s Raining Cats and Dogs…and Idioms!

    Idioms: You can say that again We’re head over heels for idioms, and hope you are, too. Can you go the whole nine yards, or do you need to go back to the drawing board? Test your idiom skills now! Can’t get enough idioms? Need to go back to square one? Check out the article here. Want to go the extra mile? Here’s another idiom quiz …

  4. You’ve Just Got to Know All About Imperatives

    An imperative sentence gives a command, demand, or instructions directly to an audience, and typically begins with an action word (or verb). These sentences often appear to lack a subject, or the person, place, or thing that performs the main action. This is because the subject of this type of sentence tends to be the audience that’s being directly addressed or commanded to do something. …

  5. Do You Know When to Capitalize the Seasons?

    As a general rule, when you’re using the name of a season in a sentence as a noun or an adjective, it shouldn’t be capitalized. There are only a few times when seasons should be capitalized, including when they’re used as proper nouns, when they start a sentence, when they’re used in titles, or when they’re personified. Seasons as Nouns or Adjectives When a season …

  6. Do Double Entendres Mean What You Think They Do?

    A double entendre is a subtle literary device that uses one statement to convey two very different meanings. Taken literally, a double entendre is usually an innocent statement that has no ironic or inappropriate overtones. Taken another way, the same statement often can mean something too indelicate to be said in polite company. A double entendre can also work in reverse, with an apparently dirty …

  7. Let’s Cut to the Chase: Idioms Are a Piece of Cake

    Idioms are expressions whose meanings are figurative and different from the literal meanings of the words within them. For example, the idiom “It costs an arm and a leg” means that something is very expensive. The literal meaning (that something has to be paid for with body parts) isn’t typically considered. English language learners may have a difficult time understanding idioms, since their figurative meaning …

  8. Running, Jumping, and Playing with Gerunds

    A gerund is a verb form that ends in -ing and functions as a noun or object in a sentence or phrase. Though a gerund may look like a verb, it doesn’t behave like one in a sentence. A gerund can act as the subject of a sentence, as the object of a preposition, or as the object of a verb. When a gerund has …

  9. Quoting Accurately with Sic

    Sic indicates that the word or phrase it follows has been written or spelled in the same way it originally was, even though it appears to be a mistake. Writers often use sic (which comes into English from the Latin word for so or thus) when they’re quoting material from another source. The use of sic lets the writer off the hook for any spelling …

  10. Quiz Yourself: Prefixes From the Top

    “First thing’s first.” A prefix is a group of letters added to the beginning of a word to modify its meaning. You’ll probably recognize them from the last time you’ve needed to rewrite an email or undo a typo (thanks, Autocorrect). Prefixes are all around us, but how well do you know them? Take the quiz! Need to start over? Just want to learn more? …