Clarifying the Conditional Tense

Posted on Tuesday, October 30, 2018, at 11:00 pm

The conditional tense—also sometimes referred to as the conditional mood—communicates what happens, will happen, might have happened, or would have happened if we do, will do, or did do something. The situation described can be real or imaginary; in either case, an action relies on something else (a condition). For that reason, most English sentences …

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Quotations Within Quotations

Posted on Tuesday, October 23, 2018, at 11:00 pm

Almost all of us have found ourselves confused with double and single quotation marks. When do we use single quotation marks? Where does the punctuation go with single quotation marks? With just a few rules and examples, you will feel surer about your decisions. Rule: Use single quotation marks inside double quotation marks when you …

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Making Sense of Morphemes

Posted on Tuesday, October 16, 2018, at 11:00 pm

A reader recently wrote to us with a question about the use of morphemes in American English. We thought this was a good opportunity to review the subject in further understanding the structure and parts of our language. Language, like matter, can be broken down from its largest to its smallest components. The five …

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Word Nerds: Verbal Custodians Trapped in a Time Warp

Posted on Tuesday, October 9, 2018, at 11:00 pm

A big drawback to a column like this is being perceived as having insufferable attitude: “So, Mr. Expert, I guess you think you’re so superior.” It’s not like that. Word nerds do custodial work. A lot of brilliant people can’t write. Ernest Hemingway was a terrible speller. Word nerds don’t think they’re “better”—do janitors think …

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Can the Versatile Adverb Modify a Noun?

Posted on Tuesday, October 2, 2018, at 11:00 pm

Writers know that an adverb modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. They likewise understand it can enhance an infinitive, a gerund, a participle, a phrase, a clause, a preposition, or the rest of the sentence in which it appears. The question that remains is whether the agile adverb can modify a noun or …

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