March 4, 2024

Bring and Take

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Some say “bring” can mean only movement toward the speaker and “take” means only movement away from the speaker. The rules aren't quite that rigid, and native speakers shouldn't waste time worrying about this one.

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February 26, 2024

Good Things Come to He Who Waits or Him Who Waits?

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The correct form is “good things come to him who waits” because the object of the preposition "to" is "him" and "who waits" is really just an adjective clause modifying "him."

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February 19, 2024

'Try And' vs 'Try To'

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Some people say "try and" is always wrong. But it's actually OK.

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February 12, 2024

Apostrophes Wrongly Used in Plurals

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One mai tai plus another mai tai does not make two mai tai's. It's two mai tais. Here's how to keep those errant apostrophes out of plurals.

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February 5, 2024

Compose and Comprise

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In most editing styles, comprise means to contain. Compose means to make up. So, if you're following these styles, the whole comprises the parts, and the parts compose the whole.

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January 29, 2024

Lesser-known Adverbs

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Most of us are taught that adverbs are words that usually end in -ly and that modify actions, as in Kate runs quickly, or modify adjectives or adverbs, as in Kate is truly incredibly fast.

But these manner adverbs constitute just one type of adverb. Adverbs include words that don’t end in -ly at all and don’t modify actions. Instead they answer the questions “when? and “where?”—words like “soon” and “tomorrow”—or they link the idea in once sentence to a previous sentence—words like “therefore” and “however.”

Here's the full story.

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January 22, 2024

Lay and Lie

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Lay is a transitive verb, meaning it takes an object: Lay the book on the table.

Lie is intransitive, meaning no object: I lie here staring at the ceiling.

It's the past tense and past participle forms the get confusing. They are:

lie/lay/lain

lay/laid/laid

If you forget those, you can always check a dictionary.

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January 15, 2024

Intrusive 'Of'

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A sentence like "Joe is not that big of a sports fan" doesn't need the "of." In fact, that preposition serves no real purpose there.

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January 8, 2024

None Is vs. None Are

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Some people believe "none" is always singular. Not so. Sometimes it's intended as a plural and can take a plural verb like "are."

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January 2, 2024

Affect vs. Effect

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Affect is a verb and effect is a noun — usually. In rare cases, the opposite can be true. Here's how to get both right every time.

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