The Subjunctive Mood

Posted on Wednesday, March 12, 2008, at 3:24 am

An e-newsletter fan came across this sentence: If I were very lucky, I would get the chance to go. She asked, “Shouldn’t I be followed by was, not were, since I is singular?” Let us answer that by asking you a question: Are you old enough to remember the ad jingle that began, “I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener …”? These …

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Some Confusing Words

Posted on Monday, March 3, 2008, at 7:13 pm

We have many words in the English language that have subtle differences between them. If you know these differences, you will be confident that you are conveying the meaning you intend. The five sets of confusing words we will cover today are: Adverse vs. Averse Uninterested vs. Disinterested Suppose vs. Supposed Oriented vs. Orientated Democratic …

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Titles of Books, Plays, Articles, etc.: Underline? Italics? Quotation Marks?

Posted on Wednesday, January 30, 2008, at 2:33 am

Prior to computers, people were taught to underline titles of books and plays and to surround chapters, articles, songs, and other shorter works in quotation marks. However, here is what The Chicago Manual of Style says: When quoted in text or listed in a bibliography, titles of books, journals, plays, and other freestanding works are …

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Excuses Sent by Parents to Schools

Posted on Friday, January 18, 2008, at 4:39 am

Sometimes I receive a humorous e-mail that is an excellent example of the importance of good grammar and communication. Then I have to pass it along to you. I promise to write something more serious next week but hope you smile when you read these. Apparently, these are real notes written by parents. (Spellings have …

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Connecting Sentences with Commas and Semicolons

Posted on Saturday, January 5, 2008, at 9:30 pm

Many of you have been asking for help with punctuating between clauses and phrases within sentences. You want to know when you should use a comma and when you need a semicolon. Here are a few rules with examples that I hope you find very helpful. Commas Rule: Use a comma between two independent clauses …

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