Clauses that need companionship

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Independent clauses can stand on their own, even if they are joined together in one sentence. Subordinate clauses, on the other hand, aren’t supposed to stand on their own. Because they depend on another clause in the sentence, an independent clause. That last sentence, beginning with because, was a subordinate clause that I forced to stand on its own. It would have fallen flat on its face if you hadn’t automatically connected it to the sentence before it.

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Using “a” and “an” Before Words

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Raphael asks: When should I use “a” and when should I use “an” before the different words? For example, should I say “a hour” or “an hour?” I stumble over this everytime and dont’t know if I’m getting it right, as I’m not speaking and writing English natively.

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Beware of “Whom”

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I just read a mystery by Sue Grafton in which her character Kinsey Millhone mentally corrects a maid who responds to her phone call by asking “Who may I say is calling?”

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Homonyms, Homophones, Homographs and Heteronyms

There is some confusion and controversy around the definition of homonyms, homophones, homographs and heteronyms. In this article we will explore the difference between those terms. Homonym comes from the Greek homo which means “same” and onym which means “name.” When we talk about words, however, what should we use to define their names? The … Read more

Compound Modifiers

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The compound modifier is my very favorite piece of the English language. It’s a hobby of mine to go around hyphenating word groupings that are modifying unbeknownst to them. Once you learn what it’s all about, you’ll do the same. But, what is a compound modifier, you ask. Well, let me tell you…

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The apostrophe is a possessive kind of punctuation mark, but it’s also used in another way. When we leave something out of a word or phrase, the apostrophe marks the place where it was left out. We use this in everyday speech without even thinking about it.

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It’s or Its?

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Most people know that the short version of it is is spelled it’s. After all, an apostrophe replaces a missing letter, which in this case is the i in is. And we know how to spell he’s and she’s. So we write, “It’s going to rain,” not “Its going to rain,” unless we’re typing too fast and leave out the apostrophe accidentally.

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