Apostrophes

Posted on Wednesday, November 1, 2006, at 9:09 pm

When asked what the most common English usage error is, I don’t have to think hard. The "winning" mistake is the misuse of the apostrophe, especially with its/it’s. First, let’s get rid of a myth: There is no such thing as its’. Why? Because its’ would be meaningless. If its' existed, it would be indicating …

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Using Commas, Semicolons, and Colons Within Sentences

Posted on Sunday, October 1, 2006, at 10:15 pm

Punctuation within sentences can be tricky; however, if you know just a few of the following rules, you will be well on your way to becoming a polished writer and proofreader. Rule: Use a comma between two long independent clauses when conjunctions such as and, or, but, for, nor connect them. Example: I have painted …

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Become a Better Writer Instantly, Part 1

Posted on Friday, September 1, 2006, at 9:55 pm

Here are some tricks of the editing trade that will make your writing look more polished instantly. Trick #1: Use concrete rather than vague language. Example of vague language: The weather was of an extreme nature. Example of concrete language: Thunderstorms tore open the sky, bringing a deluge of rain. Which sentence would make you …

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Lie vs. Lay

Posted on Tuesday, August 1, 2006, at 9:43 pm

You will impress your family and friends with your grammar skills if you can distinguish between lie and lay. These words confuse even the best editors, so you pretty much have to memorize a chart and then practice to build your confidence. Lie vs. Lay Chart Present Past Past Participle (used with helping verbs such …

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Who vs. Whom

Posted on Monday, May 1, 2006, at 3:46 pm

Let's crack the code for who and whom. It is easier than you might imagine. In addition, I will give you the technique for learning when to use whoever vs. whomever. The following are informal methods rather than rules; however, they really work! Rule: Use who when you could replace it with he. Example: Who/whom …

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