Sometimes we slavishly follow the rules of writing, when we ought to focus on communicating. We try to never split an infinitive. (I just did!) We're put off by contractions. (Did you notice mine?) And we avoid starting a sentence with a conjunction. (Why?) Another "rule" people take too...
The correct places to use the words can and may are not as easily determined as we often imagine. I was reminded of the subtleties in my seminar with the Association of Legal Administrators last week, when an attendee questioned two of my uses. (Thanks, Jennifer! I appreciate your...
I was scrolling through the excellent Grammar Hell site today, when I came upon a bit of information that surprised me. It had to do with the use of "hone in" and "home in." Let's look at the issue. Which is correct in this sentence, "home in" or "hone...
Doubts about hyphens drive people nuts. In my business writing classes, people regularly raise anxious questions about hyphen/no hyphen and word open/word closed. I just got an email from a client who had three hyphen questions, so I am inspired to supply some Hyphenation Information. (I capitalized and bolded...
In a recent Better Business Writing class an attendee wrote a sentence like this one in a letter to a customer:You may be certain that I will appraise you as soon as I receive the investigator's report.  But the reader would want to be apprised--not appraised. Be sure to...
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...