December 5, 2022

Modal Auxiliary Verbs

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Unlike the standard auxiliary verbs "have" and "be," modal auxiliary verbs like "must," "can" and "should" have special properties.

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November 28, 2022

The Generic Pronoun 'One'

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One must not use the pronoun "one" in casual contexts or anywhere a conversational tone is required.

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November 21, 2022

'Palm Off' or 'Pawn Off'?

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If you have a Canadian quarter and you're in the USA, do you try to palm it off on an unsuspecting store clerk? Or do you try to pawn it off? The original expression is comes from a sleight-of-hand trick, passing something from one person's palm to another's. Which is why "palm off" should be your preference.

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November 14, 2022

Action Verbs (Not to Be Confused with Active Voice)

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When you want to hold your reader's attention, action-oriented verbs are often better than verbs that contain no action.

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November 7, 2022

Can You Use 'While' to Mean 'Though' or 'Although'?

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It's not always a good idea to use "while" to mean "though" or "although" because, in some contexts, its meaning can be misconstrued.

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November 1, 2022

What's an appositive?

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This is one grammar term that's pretty useful to know. An appositive is a noun that restates another noun, like "a nice guy" in: The company president, a nice guy, throws great Christmas parties. Here's the full story.

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October 24, 2022

All About Dashes

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A dash is not a hyphen — it's about twice as long and unlike a hyphen it can connect different thoughts like the ones in this sentence. Regular dashes are called em dashes and they have a different job than that of the rarer, shorter en dash.

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October 17, 2022

Nouns as Adjectives

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Sometimes a noun isn't just a noun. It's also an adjective. When it's modifying another noun, these nouns-turned-adjectives are called attributive nouns.

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October 10, 2022

Into, In To, Onto, On To

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An "in" before a "to" doesn't always get squeezed together to form "into." Sometimes, "in" or "on" is part of the verb and should stay separate.

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October 3, 2022

When Not to Use Apostrophes

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Plurals almost never take apostrophes, even if they look funny without them: luaus, alibis, cappuccinos, Morellis. But there are a few exceptions.

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