Grammar

  1. The Joining and Separating Power of the Em Dash

    Few punctuation marks are as divisive as the em dash. Used in place of commas, parentheses, or colons, the em dash (—) sets off a word or clause with added emphasis. It’s the longest of the dashes, and it signals a disruption in the sentence’s flow. For example, F. Scott Fitzgerald uses one in The Great Gatsby to show an interruption in train of thought: …

  2. Don’t Leave Us Dangling, Modifier!

    When you see a phrase in a sentence, and you can’t be sure which word it’s referring to, chances are it’s a dangling modifier. Having nothing to modify, the phrase just “dangles” without purpose (hence its name). Modifiers usually apply to the nearest noun to them. When writers leave out the noun or noun phrase they intend to modify, the modifier may appear to refer …

  3. Wish You Were Here, Subjunctive Mood!

    The subjunctive mood is a way of talking about unreal or conditional situations. You can also use it to describe desires, wishes, needs, or intentions. You’ll often see it as the format for idioms and expressions. Unreal Situations The most common use of the subjunctive mood to express imaginary or hypothetical situations. It’s often used in if clauses. To show the subjunctive mood, you should …

  4. Super 6: The Major Punctuation Marks

    You’ve definitely seen them around, but do you know how they’re supposed to be used? The major punctuation marks are the period, comma, exclamation point, question mark, semicolon, and colon. These marks organize sentences and give them structure. The Period A period (.) ends a sentence. It comes immediately after the last letter of a sentence, and there only needs to be one space between …

  5. It’s Time to Talk About Infinitives

    An infinitive is the most basic form of a verb. You’ll usually see it with the word to, as in to eat or to think. An infinitive phrase is an infinitive plus complements and modifiers. To eat vegetables daily and to think about a solution are infinitive phrases. While infinitives themselves are verbs, infinitive phrases can be used as nouns, adjectives, or adverbs. Adverbial Infinitives …

  6. Creating Rhythm and Balance with Parallelisms

    When writers use very similar wording across several sentences or lines of poetry, it’s known as parallel sentence structure. Doing this creates rhythm and balance. Parallel sentence structures are also known as parallelisms. Simple parallelisms may be as short as words or phrases. More complex ones may combine entire clauses or sentences. Parallel sentence structures can highlight aspects of stories and poems in many ways. …

  7. All About Prepositional Phrases

    Prepositional phrases are the kinds of things you use all the time without thinking about them. They’re groups of words that begin with a preposition and end with an object. Prepositions are words like about, across, after, for, and in. You’ll see them in simple prepositional phrases, like about zebras, after school, and with friends. Objects of Prepositions When we say object, we mean the …

  8. 4 Ways to Structure Your Sentences

    The four types of sentence structures are simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex. The quantity and arrangement of clauses determines the makeup of each type of sentence structure. A clause is a grouping of words with both a subject and a verb that can (but doesn’t always) form a sentence. If the clause can form a complete thought on its own, it’s considered an independent clause. …

  9. 5 Relative Pronouns That You Use Every Day

    Spoilers: We’ll be diving into who vs. whom in this one! The first thing we should mention is that relative pronouns introduce relative clauses. A relative clause is a type of dependent clause (a clause that can’t stand by itself as a complete sentence). It adds extra information to a sentence. The five relative pronouns are who, whom, whose, which, and that. Who vs. Whom …

  10. Comparative Adjectives Just Keep Getting Better

    Let’s say you want to describe a noun (a person, place, or thing). You can use an adjective, as in “Jane’s hair is long,” but what if you want to describe the way Jane’s hair compares with Natalie’s? That’s where comparative adjectives come in. Comparative adjectives highlight the differences between two nouns. They let you say things like “Jane’s hair is longer than Natalie’s hair.” …

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