June 27, 2022

The Peculiar Power of 'Every'

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The word "every" has an unusual property: Add it to a some sentences that require a plural verb, like "The dog and cat are in the yard," and suddenly you need the singular verb: "Every dog and cat is in the yard." Here's the whole story.

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June 20, 2022

How to Write Academic Degrees

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PhD or Ph.D.? Master's or masters? Here's how to write academic degrees.

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June 13, 2022

Do You Know About Dummy Operators?

Sometimes when we form questions, a word appears out of nowhere: the word “do.” Grammarians call it a dummy operator. Here's what you need to know.

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June 6, 2022

Upside Down Subordination

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When you accidentally emphasize the wrong information in your sentence, your message can fall flat. Here's how subordinating conjunctions can put your reader's attention right where you want it.

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May 30, 2022

How to Use a Dictionary

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Don't know whether to choose "gotten" or "got"? Need to know the plural of "medium"? What's the correct spelling of "doughnut/donut"? Does your sentence require "swam" or "swum"? To most people, these answers are out of reach. But once you understand how to use a dictionary, a whole world of answers opens up.

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May 23, 2022

Spacing Between Sentences and Around Ellipses

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Long ago you were supposed to double space after every sentence because old typewriters gave the same amount of space for every character, be it a tiny period or a capital W. Today, almost all publishers agree you should use just one space between sentences. Here's the whole story, plus how to space around ellipses (hint: use a space before ellipses).

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May 16, 2022

Parts of Speech

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Nouns, pronouns, verbs, articles, adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, and prepositions are the building blocks of communication. Here's a quick overview.

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May 9, 2022

Weak Sentences and How to Fix Them

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Faulty sentence structure can make your writing ineffective or even unreadable. Often, you can fix these simply by finding the main clause and making its subject tangible and its verb action-oriented.

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May 2, 2022

50 Easily Confused Words to Watch Out For

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Stationary and stationery, breath and breathe, dessert and desert, compliment and complement: Here are the words that can cause errors even if you know better.

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April 25, 2022

Can You Use 'If' and 'Whether' Interchangeably?

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You don't have to worry about peevish types who advocate strict rules distinguishing if from whether. Chances are you use these words just fine without even thinking about it.

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