In writing classes, participants often ask about the abbreviation i.e. They want to know how to capitalize and punctuate it. But my response goes beyond those questions. I recommend not even using it. Here is my explanation: Almost no one knows what i.e. means. I can say this because in...
A friend of mine asked me to write about how to choose the correct form of its, and I am happy to comply. Those three little letters cause a lot of confusion, but once you master a couple of basic rules, the choice becomes simple. Here goes: Its' is...
In the last hour of reading my email, I have read three sentences whose subjects and verbs do not agree. In each example, the verb is is. Attached is the evaluations. Your insight and feedback is very important to me and my team. Computer languages is very definitive. Here is the...
Dangling modifiers--these are the phrases that appear at the beginning of a sentence (usually) that give people a chuckle because of what follows them. Here is an illustration:Chewing contentedly on our rose bushes, Aunt Amy saw a doe and a small deer. Because the name Aunt Amy follows the opening...
Lately people have been visiting this site looking for the answer to this question:"What is the difference between grammar and usage?"Here is my answer: Grammar has to do with the correct placement of words in a sentence. Usage involves using the proper word. These are grammatical errors: Me and...
Are contractions sloppy? That question came to me today when a writing class participant told me she would never use a contraction. And here's the reason she wouldn't: A teacher had drilled into her head that their use is wrong. In fact, the participant called contractions "sloppy," and a...
This week in a Better Business Writing class, an attendee named Carmen told me how important it was to her to avoid splitting an infinitive. Why? Because an excellent teacher had drilled into Carmen's head that an infinitive should not be split! Because of Carmen's high regard for this...
This week my 11-year-old daughter had an assignment on writing numbers. One of the rules on her assignment sheet stated, "Numbers that are expressed in fewer than four words are spelled out." That rule sounded like trouble to me. After all, do we really want to write seventeen thousand...
This morning I received an email from a friend who knows a lot about grammar and punctuation. I was surprised that her message included the phrase "a MS word specialist." It should have been "an MS word specialist" because "MS" is pronounced "em ess." Words that begin with a...
"I would feel bad if I treated you badly." That's an illustration of the correct use of the words bad and badly. Bad/badly is a grammar point that trips up many of us. Even people who are very careful about their speech and writing are confused about those two words....