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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April 18, 2016

I Only Have Eyes Only for Only You?

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Where you put your "only" in a sentence can get a little controversial. Here's how to find the best home for your "only."

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April 11, 2016

The Dreaded Double Negative

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Sentences like "I don't have no money," in which both "don't" and "no" are negating the statement, can get you in hot water. In reality, the matter's not quite so simple. And there's no explicit rule against multiple negations. Here's how to make good decisions about negatives.

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April 4, 2016

Subject-object and Subject-complement Agreement

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Everyone knows it's important that subjects agree with verbs. But it's just as important that they agree with objects and complements. Here's what you need to know.

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March 28, 2016

Further and Farther

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Editing manuals and sticklers say these words should get different jobs, with "farther" referring to physical distances and "further" for theoretical ones. But you have more flexibility than that. Here's everything you need to know.

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March 21, 2016

Ensure and Insure

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In professional editing, these two words are treated as distinct. You can observe the same distinction -- or not. Here's how to decide.

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