November 30, 2020

How to Use—or Better Yet, Not Use—Semicolons

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Semicolons are less useful than some people think. In fact, you may be able to avoid them entirely. But either way, it's good to know how they work.

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November 23, 2020

'Try To' vs. 'Try And'

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Did you know that some people consider "try and" an error, as in "Try and guess who's coming for dinner." They're not right, exactly, but there's a logic underlying their objection. Here's what you need to know.

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November 16, 2020

Happy Holidays from the Thomas's? Thomas'? Thomases?

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The holidays are the perfect time to accidentally reveal that you don't know how to make proper names plural, possessive or plural possessive. Here's an annual refresher on why Mr. and Mrs. Thomas are the Thomases and their house is the Thomases' house.

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November 9, 2020

Can You Use 'There's' With a Plural?

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There's people over there.  If "there's" means "there is," wouldn't it be wrong to us "is" with a plural? After all, you'd never say People is over there. What if you throw in "a lot," as in There's a lot of people over there? Answer: "There's" before a plural is standard usage, which makes it okay. But some of us still don't like it.

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November 2, 2020

The Adverbs You Didn't Learn About in School

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We all learned in school that adverbs modify verbs and usually end in "ly": Walk slowly. But that's just part of the story. Adverbs are actually a much bigger class of words that include words you wouldn't expect, like "tomorrow" and "soon." Here's the full story.

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October 26, 2020

Intrusive 'Of'

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People often insert an "of" into sentences like "Joe is not that big of a sports fan." But the "of" is unneeded and, arguably, a bad call. Here's what you need to know.

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October 19, 2020

When should adjectives have commas between them?

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We're all taught that, when multiple adjectives come before a noun, you put commas between the adjectives. Then how to explain why there's no comma in "a bright red shirt"? The truth is, not all adjectives work the same way. Here's what you need to know about "coordinate adjectives" and "noncoordinate adjectives."

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October 12, 2020

Comparatives and Superlatives

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Why is there smarter and smartest but not intelligenter and intelligenist? Because some words have comparative and superlative forms and some don't.

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October 5, 2020

United States's or United States'?

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Some proper nouns end in s, like Ross and United States. But if you need to make the name possessive, Ross and United States aren't the same. When a name contains its own plural, some styles call for different rules. As a result, Ross's hat and the United States' history can both be correct. Here's what you need to know.

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September 28, 2020

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

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"Of" can create a possessive relationship, so is the possessive apostrophe-plus-S redundant in "a friend of Joe's"? Kind of, but it's not wrong. Here's the full story.

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