Parentheses are among the most useful and versatile punctuation marks in the English language. They can be used effectively in both formal and casual writing, and the rules surrounding parentheses allow writers to use them for a variety of purposes. They just might be my favorite punctuation marks, simply because they provide a clear way…Read More
Homophones are words that sound alike but have different meanings. They confuse readers and writers, and are often the source of frustrating spelling mistakes. There are lots of tricks available to help you differentiate between homophones. In some cases, you can use mnemonics to remember which spelling to use. In other cases, you just have…Read More
It’s a battle between words: fewer vs. less. Are they interchangeable? Do these words have different meanings? How can we use them correctly? Many people don’t realize that these two words do not share the same meaning and therefore cannot be used interchangeably. As a result, both fewer and less are often used incorrectly. The…Read More
The placement of quotation marks perplexes a lot of people. Do they go inside or outside of other punctuation marks, like periods and commas? Should they be used to set off titles or to emphasize certain words? Are they used for both spoken dialogue and thought dialogue? What about text messages or notes in a novel…Read More
Homophones are words that sound alike but have different meanings. Sometimes, they’re also spelled differently: compliment vs. complement. Since homophones sound the same, they are often misspelled. Sometimes they’re misspelled because the writer doesn’t know there are two different spellings. In other cases, misspelled homophones are the result of typing too fast or failing to…Read More
Proper capitalization is one of the cornerstones of good grammar, yet many people fling capital letters around carelessly. Not every word deserves to be capitalized. It’s an honor that must be warranted, and in writing, capitalization is reserved only for special words. Most of the grammar rules are explicit about which words should be capitalized….Read More
It’s one of those grammar glitches that makes English teachers twitch, and it’s a perplexing punctuation problem. Knowing when to use an apostrophe and when to use apostrophe -s can be tricky, but this grammar quickie provides all you need to know about plural versus possession when it comes to apostrophe -s.
Homophones confuse some people and annoy others. I often see people online complaining about other people who can’t differentiate between the spellings of homophones like your and you’re; they’re, their, and there, and of course, its and it’s. While I find these mistakes mildly annoying, I don’t know if I’d go so far as to…Read More
The rule is simple: singular subjects take singular verbs and plural subjects take plural verbs. But sometimes it’s difficult to tell whether a subject is singular or plural. That’s why subject-verb agreement errors crop up in so many pieces of writing. Making matters worse is the fact that most people don’t know what subject-verb agreement…Read More
It’s a relatively simple punctuation mark — a bold one without a lot of confusing rules — yet it’s still grossly overused. It gives our sentences pizzazz. It emphasizes dialogue when one character shouts or snaps at another. And it gives copy editors headaches. The exclamation mark sure packs a punch.