Grammar & Usage

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How to Avoid Common Apostrophe Errors with Pronouns

English supplies pronouns for ownership. Some possessive pronouns are my, your, his, her, its, our, and their.Here’s a rule so important — and so often broken — that you should consider tattooing it on [more…]

How to Use Apostrophes to Form Contractions

In English you can use contractions to shorten a word by removing one letter or more and substituting an apostrophe in the same spot. For example, chop [more…]

How to Punctuate Quotations in Statements

To write proper English, you need to follow all the punctuation rules, even the illogical ones. Punctuation with quotations gives many people problems. Here you look at the proper punctuation for statements [more…]

How to Punctuate Quotations with Question Marks

English grammarians have devised a special set of rules for punctuating quotations that are questions. Pop quiz: Does the question mark go inside or outside of the quotation mark? Well, the answer is, [more…]

Punctuating Quotations with Exclamation Points and Semicolons

In English, the rules for using quotation marks with exclamation points follow the same general rules as question marks. And although you aren’t likely to use quotation marks with semicolons, in case you [more…]

How to Pair Pronouns with Nouns

To get started on everything you need to know about pronouns in English, take a close look at how pronouns are paired with nouns. A pronoun’s meaning can vary from sentence to sentence. [more…]

Choosing between Singular and Plural Pronouns

English pronouns are either singular or plural. Singular pronouns replace singular nouns, which are those that name one person, place, thing, or idea. Plural pronouns replace plural nouns — those that [more…]

When to Use Their, They’re, and There

A lot of English speakers have trouble distinguishing between the homonyms their, they’re, and there. Although they sound the same they have entirely different meanings. [more…]

Positioning Pronoun-Antecedent Pairs

One way to lose a reader is to let your pronouns wander far from their antecedents. To avoid confusion, keep a pronoun and its antecedent near each other. [more…]

How to Match Pronouns to Pronoun Antecedents

Most of the time, determining whether a pronoun should be singular or plural is easy. Just check the noun that acts as the antecedent, and bingo, you’re done. But sometimes a pronoun takes the place of [more…]

How to Choose Verbs for Two Subjects

In English it is pretty easy to make sure your verbs and subjects agree. Basically you check to ensure that singular subjects have singular verbs and plural subjects have plural verbs. But what kind of [more…]

Subject-Verb Agreement in Questions

Just to make subject-verb agreement complicated, English grammar shuffles a sentence around to form questions and often throws in a helping verb or two. More bad news: questions are formed differently [more…]

Making Subjects and Verbs Agree in Negatives Statements

In English some present-tense negative statements are formed by adding do or does, along with the word not, to a main verb. The not squeezes itself between the helper [more…]

Avoiding Common Subject-Verb Agreement Mistakes with Pronouns

Although making your subjects and verbs agree is pretty easy in English, there are a few common mistakes people make when the subjects of the sentences are pronouns. For example, five pronouns change from [more…]

How to Form Plural Possessives in English

The plurals of most English nouns already end with the letter s. To show ownership, all you do is add an apostrophe after the s. Many people don’t believe it, but it is true. Take a look at these examples [more…]

When to Put Titles in Quotation Marks

In your writing, sometimes you may need to include the title of a magazine, the headline of a newspaper article, the title of a song or movie, and so on. In English, when punctuating these magazine titles [more…]

How to Use Commas in a Series

In English you can use series commas when you list items. Separating items in a list helps clarify things. Imagine that you text a shopping list to your roommate Charlie, who’s at the store shopping for [more…]

Rules for Punctuating Quotations inside Quotations

In English, rules about punctuation with quotation marks are little complicated. But here is the most complicated situation of all. Sometimes you need to place a quotation inside a quotation. Yikes. How [more…]

How to Use Hyphens in Your Writing

Hyphens are multipurpose punctuation marks. They help you maneuver through unexpected line breaks, separate parts of compound words, write certain numbers, and create one description from two words. Here [more…]

When Do You Capitalize References to People?

If human beings were called only by their names, life would be much simpler, at least in terms of capital letters and English grammar rules. But most people pick up a few titles and some relatives as they [more…]

When Do You Capitalize Geographic Terms?

Even if nothing more than your imagination leaves the living room, you still need to know the rules for capitalizing the names of places, languages, geographical features, regions, and directions. And, [more…]

How to Separate a List of Descriptions with Commas

In English, writers often string together a bunch of single-word descriptions, adjectives, in grammar lingo. If you have a set of descriptions, you probably have a set of commas also. Take a look at the [more…]

When to Use Commas around a Clause

The descriptions in a sentence may be longer than one word. You may have a subject-verb expression (which grammarians call a clause) or a verb form (in technical terms, a [more…]

How to Use Commas in Addresses and Dates

Commas are good, all-purpose separators. They won’t keep you and your worst enemy apart, but they do a fine job on addresses and dates — especially when items that are usually placed on individual lines [more…]

How to Use Commas with Introductory Words and Phrases

In English, the rule is that you must separate words that aren’t part of the sentence but instead comment on the meaning of the sentence. Put another way, [more…]


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