Consistent Use of “That” in Parallel Constructions

As a conjunction, that is often optional. But when two or more corresponding phrases are involved, employ it consistently or omit it altogether, as explained in the discussion and shown in the revision following each of these examples.

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  • Mark Nichol on
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“They” As a Nonbinary Pronoun

A few weeks ago, an acquaintance visited me, and as my visitor exited the parked car, I saw that it was still occupied. My visitor, standing before me, made a reference to “they,” but only one person sat in the vehicle, and I was momentarily puzzled.

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  • Mark Nichol on
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Prices and Prizes

It may not surprise you that price and prize are cognates, but two other common words pertaining to value, and additional words derived from them, share their common ancestor.

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Punctuation Quiz #22: Introductory Phrases

An introductory adverbial phrase is often set off by a comma, but the comma can be omitted if no misreading will result. Short adverbial phrases do not always need a comma. The following sentences are written without punctuation. Insert a comma if you think one is needed.

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70 “Home” Idioms and Expressions

1. A man’s home is his castle: a sentiment that a man should have freedom to do what he wants in his home (originally “An Englishman’s home is his castle”) 2. A woman’s place is in the home: a largely outdated notion that a woman’s activities should be limited to child-rearing and housekeeping 3. At […]

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Top 11 Writing Apps for iOS (iPhone and iPad)

Finding the best writing apps for iOS can be challenging. Arguably the best word processor in existence, Microsoft Word, was designed with Windows in mind. Still, developers have answered the call and diehard Apple fans can still find several high-quality writing apps to help them write down their ideas.

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3 Sentences That Require a Tense Shift

Many writers seem to assume that all verbs in a sentence must be in the same tense, but the tense for each verb should be appropriate to the context. Here are three examples of sentences in which a statement about a past event should reflect a continuous state. Discussion after each sentence explains the reasoning, and revisions illustrate it.

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Patron and Matron

As Latin scholars may recognize, patron and matron are cognate with the Latin words for “mother” and “father.” However, their senses, and those of inflectional forms of these words, extend beyond the immediately family.

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3 Cases of Incomplete Parallel Structure

In each of the sentences below, an action or result is described in comparison or contrast to another, but the phrasing that expresses the parallel between the two phenomena is faulty. Discussion after each example explains the problem, and revisions illustrate solutions.

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  • Mark Nichol on
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