June 27, 2016

'There's' Plus a Plural

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If there's is a contraction of there and is, wouldn't it be wrong to say "There's a lot people here today"? Well, yes and no. Here's everything you need to know about existential there followed by a plural.

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June 20, 2016

'Myself' and Other Reflexive Pronouns

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If it annoys you when people say, "Joe or myself will lead the meeting," you're not alone. Here's everything you need to know about reflexive pronouns.

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June 13, 2016

Lesser-known Adverbs

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How many adverbs do you see in the following sentence?

Knowing well that I can visit you there soon is not really very helpful, as I am not well and therefore cannot prudently travel tomorrow.

If you didn't find seven, this podcast is for you.

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June 6, 2016

Intrusive 'Of'

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Is it "not too big a deal" or "not too big of a deal"? Some call that second one intrusive "of" and in some circles it's considered bad form. Here's the full explanation.

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May 30, 2016

Possessives of Proper Names With Internal Plural

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Is it "The United States' history" or "The United States's history"? Do you treat States like a plain-old plural possessive, which never takes an extra s after the apostrophe (the three states' primaries), or do you treat it like a proper noun, which in Chicago style does take an extra s after the apostrophe (James's house)? Here's what you need to know.

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May 23, 2016

Commas Between Coordinate Adjectives

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Why are there commas between the adjectives in "a nice, intelligent, kind person" but no commas in "an ugly bright green sweater"? The secret lies in the difference between coordinate adjectives and noncoordinate adjectives. Two easy tests -- putting "and" between the adjectives and rearranging their order -- make it easy to know whether you should use commas. Here's the full story.

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May 16, 2016

Everything You Need to Know About Semicolons

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How to use them, when to use them and, most important, why not to use them.

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May 9, 2016

Comparatives and Superlatives

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Smart, smarter, smartest. Intelligent, intellligenter, intelligentist? Why do some words have comparative and superlative forms and others don't? And, more important, how can you which are which? Here's what you need to know. (Spoiler alert: the answers are in the dictionary.)

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May 2, 2016

'A Friend of Joe's' or 'A Friend of Joe'?

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If the word "of" shows possession, aren't the apostrophe and S redundant in "a friend of Joe's"? Perhaps, but if you can't use a possessive S and a possessive noun in the same sentence, how do you explain why "a friend of mine" is better than "a friend of me"? Because English isn't precise and isn't even supposed to be. Here's the full story.

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April 25, 2016

'Bored With' or 'Bored By' or 'Bored Of'?

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Embarrassed by or embarrassed with? Affinity with or affinity for? When it comes to choosing prepositions, sometimes your best guess -- and your friends' -- is the only choice. Here's why.

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