Punctuation Quiz #21: Capitalization

Correct the capitalization in the following sentences. 1. Next sunday will be our fifth Anniversary. 2. My best school subjects are History, french, math, and Physics. 3. Sallie bought new curtains for her French windows. 4. When we visit Rome, we hope to obtain an audience with the pope. 5. London and paris were already … Read more

Resolving Both Passive Construction and Verbosity

Writers often unconsciously construct a sentence in which the key information appears at the tail of the sentence. Many, too, take insufficient care to avoid wordiness. All too frequently, readers stumble across sentences that suffer from both problems. In this post are three examples of sentences that are both passive and verbose. The discussion that … Read more

3 Problems with In-Line Lists

An in-line list, one located within a sentence rather than formatted vertically below an explanatory phrase, sentence, or paragraph, may present an obstacle to comprehension in the following ways. Each sentence represents a different type of error, and the discussion that follows each statement explains the problem and a revision resolves it. 1. Organizations must … Read more

All About “Most”

Most is a grammatically versatile word employed in references to amounts, quantities, and degree. This post discusses its use as various parts of speech. Most, deriving from Old English and related to more, serves as an adjective pertaining to extent (as in “The most support comes from the Midwest”) or the majority (“Most of his … Read more

Vocabulary Quiz #8: Commonly Confused Words

In each sentence, choose the correct word from the pair of similar terms. (If both words possibly can be correct, choose the more plausible one.) 1. Do you mean to __________ that I stole your cell phone? a) infer b) imply 2. The students are ___________ in learning algebra. a) disinterested b) uninterested 3. The … Read more

25 Confused Homonym Pairs

Dozens of homonyms, words that sound like other words but are spelled differently, are sometimes confused for their near doppelgängers. This post lists and defines twenty-five frequently confused word pairs, in which the first word is usually used mistakenly in place of the second one. (Definitions for words are simplified and not comprehensive.) 1. add: … Read more

Incomplete Parallels

In each of the following sentences, an associated pair of phrases are not optimally stated and organized to make their relationship clear. The discussion after each statement proposes a solution, which follows in each case. 1. Follow with user support and usage monitoring to ensure a smooth transition and an optimal user experience during and … Read more

12 Idioms Commonly Seen with Homonymic Spelling Errors

As, in time, idiomatic phrases become more isolated from their literal origins, writers are more likely to erroneously substitute a homonym (a word that sounds like another but is spelled differently and has a different meaning) for one of the words in the phrase. This post lists idioms that frequently appear with homonymic mistakes. 1. … Read more

Studios and Studies

The word study has a variety of meanings and a small but meaningful array of words based on it. This post lists those definitions and terms. Study derives from the Latin verb studere, meaning, “application” in the sense of applying one’s attention, especially to learning. From that word came studium, the term for an artist’s … Read more

Grammar Quiz #11: Restrictive and Nonrestrictive Constructions

In each of the following sentences, a lack of punctuation creates a mistaken impression about the relationship of a modifying word or phrase to the idea it modifies. Insert punctuation so that the relationship is clear. 1. The coach observed most of practice from a midfield tower where he could see all the action. 2. … Read more

15 French Words and Phrases That Don’t Mean That in French

This post lists a number of words and phrases used in English that are derived from French but are no longer employed with the same idiomatic sense in French (if they ever were). Each term is followed by the literal French translation, a brief definition, and a comment about its status in French and how … Read more

Top 10 Writing Apps for Android Smartphones

Today’s modern writer doesn’t always have time to sit down at his desktop and write. With more and more writers living the digital nomad style, there is a major demand for technology that can help. If you are an Android user, here are 13 writing apps that you should know about. 1. Dictionary.com App This … Read more