July 16, 2018

The Five Basic Sentence Structures

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There's a nearly infinite number of ways you can structure a sentence. But at the very heart of any sentence lie just five basic structures: subject + intransitive verb; subject + transitive verb + direct object; subject plus transitive verb plus indirect object plus direct object; subject + copular verb = complement of the copular verb; and subject + transitive verb plus direct object + object complement

Here's a complete explanation.

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July 9, 2018

Literally

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If you hear something like, "The town was brought literally to its knees," it's okay to snicker. But don't get too judgmental. Yes, talk like this is best reserved for towns that have actual knees. But these "intensifier" uses are sanctioned by most language authorities, including dictionaries. Here's what you need to know.

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July 2, 2018

How to Make Letters and Acronyms Plural

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Is there an apostrophe in ABCs? How about "Mind your p's and q's"? Here's a guide to making good choices when forming plurals out of letters, initialisms and acronyms.

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June 25, 2018

Faulty Sentence Structure

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There are a lot of ways your sentences can go wrong. Here are some major structural problems to look out for.

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June 18, 2018

The Exclamation Point Podcast Is Here!!!!

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At last! A podcast about exclamation points! (And why you should use them sparingly, if at all.)

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June 11, 2018

Bulleted Lists

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Ever wonder whether your bulleted lists are correctly written and punctuated? It's a safe bet everyone does. Here's how the authorities say to handle them.

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June 4, 2018

Parts of Speech

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Learning the parts of speech isn't just an exercise in labeling. It gives you a better grasp on sentence mechanics and how to write the best possible prose. And there's more to the parts of speech than just the basic "a cat is a noun" stuff you learned in grade school. Here's a helpful refresher for grown-ups.

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May 28, 2018

Apostrophe Abuse

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Is there any error that leaves you more open to ridicule than apostrophe errors? They're the most common, the most blatant, and the most likely to cause readers to look down on you. And in some cases, apostrophe errors are all too easy to make — even for people who are good at this stuff. Here's a review of the basics.

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May 21, 2018

Nominalizations

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"The walking of the dog is an activity that Naomi enjoys."

What's wrong with this sentence? Grammatically, nothing. Yet it's still bad writing because it turns an action, walking the dog, into an abstraction represented by a noun. Most of the time, verbs are more interesting as actions than they are in noun forms, known as nominalizations. Here's what you need to know.

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May 14, 2018

Semicolons in Series

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Most of the time, semicolons are a obnoxious. But sometimes they're indispensable. When you have no choice but to list unwieldy items in the same sentence, that's when semicolons are your friend. Here's how to use them right.

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