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Sentence Construction

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How to Form Complete Sentences

As any English grammar teacher will tell you, a complete sentence has at least one subject-verb pair. They’re a pair because they match. They match because, well, they work smoothly as a team. One half [more…]

How to Connect Sentences with Coordinate Conjunctions

Say you are studying for your English grammar final and you have to join two related sentences together. One way to do that is by using coordinating conjunctions. You’re familiar with these common words [more…]

How to Choose Subordinate Conjunctions

Some clauses in a sentence are more important than others. In English to join two thoughts that aren’t equal in importance you need to use a subordinate conjunction, but you must be careful. Subordinate [more…]

How to Attach Sentences with a Semicolon

If you really want to impress your English teacher, try using semicolons to attach sentences with connected thoughts. The semicolon is a funny little punctuation mark; it functions as a pit stop between [more…]

How to Use Pronouns to Combine Sentences

There are many ways to combine sentences in English. One useful trick for combining short sentences legally involves using the pronoun connection. Using pronouns to combine sentences is second-nature to [more…]

How to Avoid Writing Sentence Fragments

In formal writing, or if you are writing to impress someone, such as your English grammar instructor or your boss, you should avoid using sentence fragments. They lack the clarity of complete sentences [more…]

How to Punctuate Sentences with Endmarks

Endmarks include periods (.), question marks (?), exclamation points (!), or ellipsises ( . . .). You use these punctuation marks to show that a sentence has come to an end. When you speak, your body language [more…]

How to Show Possession with Proper Nouns

Because companies, stores, and organizations also own things, you need a way to express possession. In English, these proper nouns — whether they are singular or plural — require you to use apostrophes [more…]

How to Show Possession for Nouns That End in S

Singular nouns that end in s present special problems. Imagine that your last name is Woods (and you teach English grammar). Your name is singular, because you are only one person. When students talk about [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…]

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…]

How to Improve Your Writing with Active Verbs

Unless you’re trying to hide something, or unless you truly don’t know the facts, you should make your writing as specific as possible. Specifics reside in active voice. In English, using active verbs [more…]

Adding Meaning with Strong Verbs

To add meaning and detail to your sentences, use strong verbs. You can also water down your writing with blah, weak verbs. So why doesn’t everybody use strong verbs? The trouble is too many people don’t [more…]

Expressing Eternal Truths in Present the Tense

Some things are always true. For example, the earth has always been round and two plus two always equals four. English speakers use the present tense to discuss these eternal truths. Look at the following [more…]

Where to Place Descriptive Phrases

English doesn’t have as many word forms for you to memorize as many other modern languages have. But English speakers have to be careful about word order. Most people do all right with nouns and verbs, [more…]

Using Good Grammar in E-Mails

Some e-mails are written to friends and family, and as long as you are clear, following grammar rules is not important. But business e-mails, or e-mails to superiors can be treated much like formal letters [more…]

How to Avoid Vague Pronoun References

You can improve your writing a lot by taking care not to use vague pronoun references. One pronoun may refer to one noun. A plural pronoun may refer to more than one noun. But no pronoun may refer to a [more…]

How to Select Pronouns for Collective Nouns

Collective nouns (committee, team, squad, army, class,and the like) refer to groups. How do you choose a pronoun to refer to that committee, squad, or team? When the group is acting as a unit — doing the [more…]

Writing and Placing Your Subordinate Clauses

Finding the correct place to put your subordinate clauses is simple. Clauses acting as subjects or objects nearly always fall in the proper place automatically. Don’t worry about them! Put the subordinate [more…]

When to Use Subordinate Clauses

Subordinate clauses, which can’t stand alone, have three main purposes in life. A subordinate clause can describe nouns and pronouns; describe verbs, adverbs, and adjectives; or at act as the subject or [more…]

How to Use Verbals in Writing

In grammar, the new, improved blend of two parts of speech is a called a verbal. Verbals are extremely useful hybrids. Verbals come in three forms: gerunds, infinitives, and participles. [more…]

Spice Up Boring Sentences with Clauses and Verbals

Using clauses and verbals helps you vary your sentence structure and that makes your writing interesting. You should read your writing aloud from time to time to check how it sounds. The old saying, variety [more…]

Write Better Sentences by Deleting Clutter

Sentences stuffed with filler sound silly or (even worse) condescending to your readers. You should take care not to be repetitive. It bores your readers, and wastes their time. Concise writing sounds [more…]

Combining Subordinate and Independent Clauses in One Sentence

Using clauses can vary the rhythm of your sentences, making them more fun to read. Some clauses are like mature grown-ups. They have their own apartment, pay their own rent, and wash the dishes frequently [more…]

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