who vs whom

Grammar Rules: Who vs. Whom

It sounds old-fashioned: To whom have you sent those letters? Modern colloquial speakers expect something more along the lines of Who did you send those letters to? While whom may sound outdated, it is still the technically correct word in certain situations. Let’s examine the rules and practices surrounding who vs. whom. One of our…Read More

the comma

Punctuation Marks: The Comma

For such a little punctuation mark, the comma causes an awful lot of confusion. Some writers are too liberal with commas, sprinkling them about like nuts on an ice cream sundae. Other writers hoard their commas and avoid using them whenever possible. Why are these punctuation marks so widely misused? Why are we, collectively, so…Read More

what is a homophone

What is a Homophone?

Homophones are those annoying words that sound exactly alike but have different meanings and are often spelled differently. They give English teachers nightmares, cause headaches for students, and drive editors crazy. We writers need to be diligent about homophones because spell-check won’t catch them, and many readers cite misspelled homophones as pet peeves. And we…Read More

grammar rules lay or lie

Grammar Rules: Lay or Lie

One of the most common grammatical mistakes that we see in both speech and writing is misuse of the words lay and lie. This error is so common, it even slips past professional writers, editors, and English teachers — all the time. Maybe eventually these two words will morph into one and have the exact same meaning,…Read More

serial comma

Punctuation Marks: The Serial Comma

When you use commas to separate items in a list or series, do you include a comma before the conjunction near the end of the list? For example: I write poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction. (This sentence does not use a serial comma.) or I write poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. (This sentence does use…Read More

bass or base chord or cord

Homophones for Music Lovers: Turn up the Bass and Play a Chord

Homophones are words that sound alike but have different meanings. Many homophones also have different spellings, and all too often, people mix them up. The result is an onslaught of misspellings throughout the written universe. Although these mistakes are understandable, they are problematic since they are contagious. If someone sees a homophone used incorrectly or…Read More

grammar rules that and which

Grammar Rules: That and Which

There’s a lot of confusion about that and which. These two words are often used interchangeably, even though they’re not necessarily interchangeable. Historically, that and which may have carried the same meaning, and some English dialects may allow for that and which to be swapped without affecting the meaning of a sentence. However, in American…Read More

How to use a semicolon

Punctuation Marks: How to Use a Semicolon

Lots of people aren’t sure how to use a semicolon. The semicolon might be the most misunderstood punctuation mark in the English language. This dot-comma combination is often used where a period, colon, or even a plain old comma belongs. Underused and often abused, the semicolon is useful in a number of writing situations. Although…Read More

homophones

Homophones: Two, Too, and To

One of our readers wrote in to ask about the homophones too and to: “I was trying to find something on how and when to use ‘to and too’ I am having trouble in that area. I have trouble with that a lot and I tend to mess up with that. Can you help and…Read More

grammar rules ie and eg

Grammar Rules: i.e. and e.g.

Occasionally, we come across the abbreviations i.e. and e.g., but what do they mean, and what is the difference between them? How do grammar rules apply? These two terms originate in the Latin language and are just two of the many Latin phrases that have survived into modern language. Both i.e. and e.g. are abbreviations…Read More

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