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.
When I see professional signs or business documents with words spelled incorrectly, it’s like someone’s dragging nails down a chalkboard, which is something I don’t want to hear. But I try not to get too riled up. I know that spelling isn’t easy for everyone. However, I do believe that with a little effort, anyone…Read More
A longstanding grammar myth says we’re not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition. For years, this myth has persisted, tying writers up in knots and making their heads spin around sentences that simply must end with a preposition. For example: Which store are you going to? Folks who were taught (and are now…Read More
You see it everywhere, but most people don’t know what it’s called or how to use it properly. In fact, it’s often referred to as “dot, dot, dot” even though it does have a name. This punctuation mark is the ellipsis. It is a series or row of three periods, which is usually used to indicate…Read More
Believe it or not, the words further and farther have different meanings, although people tend to use them interchangeably. And it’s no surprise, because these two words look alike, sound alike, and the difference in meaning is subtle. Plus there are a few circumstances when they are legitimately interchangeable. Let’s solve the further vs. farther…Read More
The colon is one of the most clearly-defined punctuation marks. It occasionally acts as a stand-in for a comma or period (though when one of these other punctuation marks will do, the colon is unnecessary). Most commonly, the colon functions as an introductory punctuation mark, notifying the reader that the forthcoming information supports, explains, or…Read More