5 Problems with Parenthesis

Parenthesis is the strategy of setting a word, phrase, or clause off from a sentence to interject additional information into that statement. Despite the name, parenthesis can be accomplished with two commas or a pair of dashes as well as with a brace of parentheses. However, several problems can occur when writers attempt to parenthesize: … Read more

Indirect References to Questions

When referring to a paraphrased question, writers often introduce grammatical mistakes in the course of confusing the query for a quoted question. In the following sentences, errors are introduced in the course of posing an indirect question (or, in the case of the final example, a direct one). Discussion of the specific error, and a … Read more

3 Types of Spelling Challenges

Often, the English language appears to have been invented by a malicious entity. But although Noah Webster—the American lexicographer who complicated things, rather than simplifying them, by advocating for changes in spelling rules to differentiate American English from its British English parent—can take some of the blame, the idiosyncrasies of both forms of English are … Read more

5 Wordy Sentences Examples and Corrections

The careful writer always reviews their prose, and one of the qualities they aspire to demonstrate is conciseness, or brevity of expression. Revision of the following wordy sentences, accompanied by commentary about the revision, provides specific examples of the types of verbosities to eliminate. 1. There are seventy-seven industry-specific codified standards, launched in November 2018 … Read more

Parallel Structure Exercises

Previous posts on this website have discussed syntactical errors that result in a lack of grammatical balance between equivalent words and phrases; this post lists the various types of mistakes that lead to flawed parallel structure. You are invited to fix each sentence before reading the explanation. Absence of One Word Most sentences with faulty … Read more

Affect vs. Effect

Among the pairs of words writers often confuse, affect and effect might be the most perplexing, perhaps because their meanings are so similar. Affect, derived from affectus, from the Latin word afficere, “to do something to, act on,” is easily conflated with effect, borrowed from Anglo-French, ultimately stemming from the Latin word effectus, from efficere, … Read more

7 English Grammar Rules You Should Know

This post outlines seven general areas of grammar and syntax that writers must be familiar with to enable them to write effectively. 1. Subject-Verb Agreement Use singular verbs for singular subjects and plural verbs with plural subjects. A verb should agree with its subject, not with an intervening modifying phrase or clause: “The box of … Read more

Brand Identity and Content Quality

Every company is in the business of communication, and now that our society is well into the digital age, and businesses deliver their messages across multiple forms of media, it behooves them to do so with high professional standards. Two significant factors are brand identity and content quality, which are discussed in this post. The … Read more

10 Misplaced Modifier Examples

Misplaced modifier is the syntactical error of misplacing nonessential but supplemental information within a sentence. It is so common among professional writers as well as those who are not paid to write (or for whom writing is not a primary job responsibility) that it is easy to find multiple examples of such a mistake during … Read more

10 Tips to Improve Your Writing Skills

1. Prepare Absorb information about writing, but don’t overwhelm yourself. I’ve been known to read a writing handbook or editing manual cover to cover, but I recommend reading one chapter or section at a time and absorbing information from online resources in similarly small doses as well. Our website is a good starting point, as … Read more

List of Prefixes and Suffixes and their Meanings

This post lists prefixes, suffixes, and their meanings. (Many scientific and mathematical prefixes have been omitted.) Groups of one or more definitions after a prefix that are separated by a semicolon stem from different senses of the prefix. Note, too, that some prefixes share the spelling of distinct words (for example, under) or have been … Read more

How to Check Cross-References

A word, phrase, or sentence that directs the reader to related information in the same document (or, in the case of online content, perhaps a different document), whether said document is an article or a book, is called a cross-reference. This post discusses best practices in employing cross-references. In printed or online content, a cross-reference … Read more