The em dash is an incredibly versatile punctuation mark that can be used instead of parentheses, commas, colons, or quotation marks in a sentence. The em dash (—) sets off a word or clause and adds emphasis. Or, it can signal an interruption or amplification (“expanding”) of an idea. It’s also the longest of the dashes (hyphen, en dash). Click above to read more.
Quotation marks (” “) are used for direct quotations. A quotation begins and ends with quotation marks: “I am getting worried,” she said, “that he has not called.” This signifies that someone actually said these words. But, that's not the only way they can be used. Click above to read more.
You’ve probably heard a lot of things about the comma and may have questions about when to use a comma. A comma (,) signifies a short pause in a sentence. It can also divide clauses (“parts of a sentence”) or items in a list. It is often used to create division or to improve the clarity of a sentence. Click above to read more.
Interrupters—like this little guy right here—are squeezing into more and more contemporary writing. They’re often the goofy/sarcastic “wink-wink-nudge-nudge” asides writers play with in nonacademic writing and online content. Click above to read more.
A conjunction is a connecting word used to join words, phrases, sentences, and clauses. Conjunctions are often single words (and, but, because). In some cases, they can also be phrases (in any case). The two main types of conjunctions are subordinating and coordinating. There are also correlative conjunctions. Click above to read more.
In active voice, the subject performs the action of the verb. In passive voice, the subject receives the action of the verb. If you feel like you need a little more than that, click above to read more.
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 to something else. The results can be confusing (and sometimes hilarious). Click above to read more.
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. Click above to read more.
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. Click above to read more.
Verbs (the action words in sentences) are grouped as either regular or irregular, based on whether they follow standard rules of conjugation. Some common irregular verbs include go, have, make, say, take, and know. Click above to read more.