Punctuation Review #3: En Dashes

Dashes are not the same as hyphens. An en dash is wider than a hyphen, and an em dash is wider than an en dash: hyphen: – en dash: – em dash: — The terms en dash and em dash originated in the days when text to be printed was set in type by hand. … Read more

Punctuation Review #2: Honorifics

A reader wonders, Why on earth do we place a period after Ms? It’s not an abbreviation of anything I know of. Americans place a period after Ms. because style guides like The Chicago Manual of Style and The AP Stylebook tell us to. British speakers do not place a period (full stop) after Ms because … Read more

Verb Review #7: Noun Clauses

Clauses function as one of three parts of speech: adverb, adjective, or noun. This review is about noun clauses. Note: If you need to review the definition of a clause, go here. I have found that students have more difficulty in identifying noun clauses than either of the other two kinds because a noun clause … Read more

Verb Review #6: Adjectival Clauses

Clauses function as one of three parts of speech: adverb, adjective, or noun. This review is about adjectival clauses (also called “adjective clauses”). Adjective clauses are a little more difficult to identify than adverb clauses. An adverb clause is introduced by a subordinating conjunction whose only function is to link the adverb clause to the … Read more

Verb Review #5: Adverbial Clauses

Clauses function as one of three parts of speech: adverb, adjective, or noun. This review is about adverbial clauses (also called “adverb clauses”). Reminder: A clause is a group of words that contains a finite verb. A finite verb shows tense. For example: sing, walked, was thinking, is living, etc. Finite verbs are also called … Read more

Verb Review #4: Using Would to Talk About the Past

The modal would has numerous applications. Here are a few. One function is to express the idea of habitual action that took place in the past. For example, “When I was ten years old, I would go to the public library every week with my grandmother.” In conversation and informal writing, would is often expressed … Read more

Verb Review #3: Two Kinds of Infinitive

The English infinitive is the basic form of the verb. It has two parts, the particle to and the present form of the verb. Here are some infinitives: to go to sing to walk to want to believe The infinitive is used with and without the particle to. Used with the to, it’s called “the … Read more

Pronoun Review #2 Who’s vs. Whose

A common error with who’s and whose is to confuse one for the other: Incorrect: She loves an author who’s books have become hard to find. Correct : She loves an author whose books have become hard to find. Incorrect: That’s a regular whose who of Fataverse All-Stars if I do say so myself. Correct … Read more

Punctuation Review #1: Commas with Adjectives

Sometimes writers are not sure about where to put commas in a list of adjectives. Compare: They visited a beautiful, elaborate mansion. They visited a beautiful Victorian mansion. The adjectives in the first sentence are separated by a comma because they are coordinate adjectives. They’re “coordinate” because they are equal in the way they describe … Read more

Verb Review #2: Linking Verbs

Linking verbs, also called “copulative verbs,” “being verbs,” and “state of being verbs,” do not describe an action. This type of verb links a subject and the noun, pronoun or adjective that restates it or describes it. The verb most commonly used as a linking verb is the verb to be in its various forms. … Read more

Pronoun Review #1: Reflexive Pronouns

The English reflexive pronouns are: Singular: myself, yourself, himself/herself/itself Plural: ourselves, yourselves, themselves They are called “reflexive” because they reflect or restate another noun or pronoun that has already been stated. (In the case of an imperative sentence, the pronoun You is understood: “[You] Watch yourself on the ice!”) Reflexive pronouns are used as direct … Read more

Grammar Review #1: Particles and Phrasal Verbs

Generally speaking, a particle is a word that doesn’t belong to the usual classes of words like noun, verb, pronoun, etc. Authorities disagree as to which words to call “particles,” but most agree that the to of an infinitive and the words that look like adverbs or prepositions in a phrasal verb are particles. Compare: … Read more