Grammar

  1. Irregular Plural Nouns: People Change, but Aircraft Don’t

    Irregular plural nouns are nouns that become plural in a way other than adding -s or -es to the end. It can be tough to remember which nouns are irregular, but here are a few guidelines for how to handle the ones that are. Regular Nouns First off, a noun is a person, place, or thing. Nouns are singular when they represent one item and …

  2. Custom-Made Descriptions with Hyphens

    The shortest of the dashes, hyphens (–) link words and parts of words. They can connect prefixes or break up a word at the end of a line of text. They can also combine two or more words that describe a noun. For example, in George Orwell’s 1984, hyphenated words help create unusual descriptive phrases: “He felt deeply drawn to him, and not solely because …

  3. En Dashes from A–Z

    You don’t hear as much about them as other dashes, but you’ve most likely seen them around. En dashes (–) can denote a range or connect the endpoints of a route. They can also show a contrast or connection between two words. You can use them to replace the words to, and, or versus. An en dash is longer than a hyphen (–) and shorter …

  4. 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: …

  5. 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 …

  6. 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 …

  7. 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 …

  8. 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 …

  9. 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. …

  10. 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 …

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