It’s no secret that the English language is a confusing beast full of nuances, inconsistent rules, and usage that is constantly evolving. While many run screaming rather than face it head-on, there are some who bravely charge ahead, embracing the beast. These grammar geeks strive to commit those rules–even the ones that aren’t consistent–to memory and even find enjoyment in learning more about the words they love. Whether you count yourself among the proud grammarians or are just a college student who has to write a paper for class, these blog posts are full of fun and informative tidbits about grammar that will promise to make your writing stronger.
Parts of Speech
These posts examine nouns, verbs, adverbs, and other parts of speech.
- Do I Hate Your Singing or You Singing?. Learn how to use the correct form of the possessive in a gerund.
- All-Purpose Pronoun. The link in this post leads to an article that tells about the evolution of the word "he" to represent both men and women. Surprisingly, a woman with strong feminist ideals was probably the first to use "he" for both genders.
- Agreement: Pronouns that ALWAYS Take a Singular Verb. Make sure you correctly use singular verbs with these pronouns.
- When smart people use bad grammar. While a little harsh on those making mistakes, this blogger does make an excellent point about the correct usage of "I" and "me."
- Prepositions on the Loose. Make sure you are putting your prepositional phrases in the correct place so you don’t run into these types of mistakes.
- Subject, Meet Verb. When the subject of a sentence is a collective, it can be confusing to know which form of the verb to use. This post will help clarify the issue.
- Adverbs Ending in -ly. Learn how to properly use adverbs ending in -ly and how to avoid misusing words ending in -ly.
- Phrasal Verbs. Find out about these challenging verbs and what makes them so difficult.
- Handy Hint: Was vs. Were. Discover a hint to help you remember when to use "I was" and "I were" correctly.
- Handy Hint: Joint and Separate Possession. Learn how to correctly indicate possession when two or more nouns are involved in the sentence structure.
- Me, Myself, and I. The word "myself" is often misused. Find out which pronouns to use in which circumstance.
- Types of Adjectives: #1 Descriptive. The first of a three-part blogging series, this post covers adjectives that detail to the noun.
- Types of Adjectives: #2 Limiting. These adjectives move beyond description and actually add details that are essential to completely understanding the noun.
- Types of Adjectives: #3 Predicate Adjective. The final post in this series takes a look at adjectives that occur after the verb.
Learn how to properly use punctuation with this information.
- Colons, Dashes and Troubles. Find out why colons and dashes should be used sparingly as well as some common mistakes with them both.
- Serial Commas on the Loose. This blogger advocates using the serial comma and explains why you should use it–unless you are a newspaper journalist or live outside the US.
- Commas in nouns of address. Learn about off-setting nouns of direct address with commas with this birthday cake story.
- Editing Comma Splice. Learn about the dreaded comma splice and how to correct sentences containing one.
- 14 English Punctuation Marks–What Are They?. Get a complete run-down of all fourteen of the punctuation marks used in English grammar.
- How About It, Hyphen Haters?. This post illustrates why hyphens are sometimes necessary.
- You’ve Been Punc’d. Here are seven common punctuation mistakes you should take care to avoid.
- How to Punctuate a Sentence. This post offers an excellent guide to the basics of correctly punctuating a sentence.
- The Apostrophe Explained. Understand how to use the apostrophe, or more commonly, not to use it.
- Mother’s Little Helper. If you think you have a good understanding of using apostrophes, then you should read this post on more advanced apostrophe usage.
- Semi-tough. Learn how to use a semi-colon here.
- I (heart) ;. This post links to a New York Times article about semi-colon usage in New York.
- R.I.P.. Discover why hyphens have gone out of style.
- Handy Hint: Periods and Parentheses. Find out whether the period goes inside or outside the parentheses.
- Handy Hint: Quotation Marks with Question Marks and Exclamation Points. Discover where these punctuation marks belong in reference to quotation marks.
If you have ever selected the wrong word in your writing, then peruse this list to ensure you don’t do so again.
- The real difference between “between” and “among”. Examine the difference between these two prepositions and how they should be used properly.
- To Google, or Not?. Learn why trademarked names should be capitalized and why they shouldn’t be used as verbs.
- "Which" Versus "That". Find out about restrictive and non-restrictive clauses and whether to use "which" or "that" in your sentences.
- Affect Versus Effect. These two words trip up many people, so read this post to learn one way to remember when to use the correct version.
- Who Versus Whom. Get an easy trick to remember how to keep these two words straight.
- Discombobulated. Some people use the words "disc" and "disk" interchangeably, but they actually refer to different types of objects.
- Not-Coms. Learn the difference between a Web address and the company’s name, which may be similar.
- Those Pesky Homophones. This post provides a list of commonly confused homophones that will certainly slip past the spellcheck.
- Words to Watch Out For. Here is another list of words that are often misused by people and will not show up on the spellcheck.
- The Bad Phrase(s) List. This extensive list provides both the "bad" phrases and what writers likely intend.
- Words to Retire. Discover plenty of overused words in this post.
- Has Your Curiosity Been Peaked–or Piqued?. Make sure your curiosity is treated with the proper respect by reading this post.
- Ordinal Numbers: First, not Firstly. Find out why you need to omit the -ly when using ordinal numbers.
The way you write can make a big difference in how your writing is understood. Read these posts for tips on ways to improve your style.
- Style Tips: Avoiding Over-Nominalization. Learn how to streamline your sentences by avoiding overusage of nominalizations.
- Nicer than the Nicest. Look at some adjectives that might cause confusion over whether to use "more" or "-er" with them.
- All Too General. Using more specific words instead of relying on more general ones will add more meaning to your writing.
- Active Voice Versus Passive Voice. Many writing teachers dislike the use of the passive voice. Learn the difference between passive and active voice here to help avoid awkward or vague sentences.
- Notes on Style. See what eight professional writers have to say about style in this post.
- Compound and Complex Sentences. This post provides a reminder to writers about varying their writing style by incorporating compound and complex sentences.
- Capital Punishment 😉. Not only will you find a list of rules for capitalization, but you will also get a short primer on using a few specific trademarked names.
- Writing for the web: making a (bulleted) list. Learn about the art of making a list, especially as it pertains to writers whose work appears on the Web.
- A Quick Sentence Revision Tip: Subordinate "IT". Discover a way to tighten your sentence structure by eliminating an unnecessary participial phrase.
- Advice for students: How to unstuff a sentence. Removing redundancy and eliminating over-inflated words are just a few of the tips in this post on streamlining writing.
- Starting a Sentence with "However". Find out if and when it is acceptable to start a sentence with "however."
Make sure you are using words correctly with the information these posts share.
- Criminal Sentence 303: Who is a member?. This post shows an example of why you should pay attention to the subject of your sentence.
- Modify your misplaced and dangling modifiers. Read funny examples of misplaced and dangling modifiers as well as how to fix them.
- Myriad: How Does This One Work?. Learn how myriad can be used as both an adjective and a noun.
- Do’s and Dont’s. Find out how to correctly use the apostrophe with words such as "to-dos."
- literally flying down the road. This post highlights a misusage of the word "literally."
- Guestimate. Using words that aren’t valid words can weaken your writing, as this post illustrates.
- Jill Came Tumbling After. There are many ways to express the act of falling. Explore the nuances of some here.
- Usage Thursday: Top Nine Misused Words. Take a look at this list and see if you have been misusing some of these words.
- 25 Tips for Saving Money When Working With Your Editor. Follow these tips (whether you use an editor or not) to ensure you are using correct grammar.
- Mixed metaphors are not like mixed nuts. This is a fun reminder of keeping the same theme when using metaphors.
- Scotch. The correct usage for "Scots," "Scotch," "whiskey," and "whisky" is the feature in this post.
- Grammar: Slips, Trips, and Falls. This list provides quite a few grammar tips to help ensure you are using the correct word, have proper predicate agreement, and a few other fun tips.
It appears that the most common grammar myth is that you can’t end a sentence with a preposition. Find out what other myths are busted in these blog posts.
- Never Say Never: Five Bogus Rules of Grammar. Read about these five rules of grammar that really aren’t rules.
- Ending a Sentence with a Preposition. You may be surprised to discover that sometimes it actually is okay to end a sentence with a preposition.
- Five Grammar Myths Exploded. Find out which five myths are exploded when you read this blog post.
- Debunking Grammar Myths. Split infinitives, conjunctions, and the word "none" all figure into these myths.
- Debunking Etymological Myths. Five common beliefs about the origin of these words are debunked here.
- Grammar Myths. These ten myths are laid to rest–complete with tombstones.
- Top Ten Grammar Myths. Check out these ten myths, including one that features the much-maligned "irregardless."
- 5 Writing Myths. From needing perfect grammar to submitting work with grammatical errors, these five myths are particularly relevant for new writers.
- Top 10 English Grammar Myths and Superstitions in Essay Writing. From use of contractions to first-person pronouns, find out if you are still buying into these myths.
- Five Grammar "Rules" That Beg To Be Broken. While most of these have already been included above, there is still new information here you can appreciate.
Many words in the English language have fascinating beginnings. Here is just a sampling of word origins that grammar geeks may find interesting.
- Oh, doggone it!. Learn the origins of the phrase "doggone it" in this post.
- Yes, we can. In America, people use cans, and in Britain they use tins. Find out why the same thing goes by two different names and where both words originated.
- A Ghost Word for Halloween. Learn the origin of the word "phantomnation" and how it achieved its status as a ghost word.
- A phrase that might sound dirty but isn’t. You might be surprised to find out where the phrase "balls to the wall" originated.
- Would You Dismantle the Mantle?. "Dismantle" and "mantle" seem like they should be antonyms, but this post explains how they came from the same Latin root and went their own separate ways.
- Boning up on deBoning. Find out how "bone" and "debone" evolved with the information here.
- Word of the Day: "Eliminate". Learn the interesting history of this word here.
- Word of the Day: "Flamingo". These brightly-colored birds got their name from a pretty predictable word–but not one usually associated with the bird.
- Word of the Day: "Serendipity". Discover the literary origins of this magical word.
- Going to the ball. This post includes the etymology of the word ball (as in "dance") as well as the origins of several dance-related words.
- ‘Great Recession’: A Brief Etymology. Most word origins happened so long ago, their stories seem almost other-worldly. This post delves into the more recent birth of the phrase "great recession," with an aside into the origin of "great depression" as well.
- Days of the Week Word Origins. If you’ve ever wondered where the days of the week got their names, then you should check out this post.
- Unusual Word Origins. Learn about the beginnings of three common words that originated from unusual circumstances.
Just for Fun
While there isn’t too much edification coming out of these posts, they do offer a fun look at grammar use and misuse.
- Diagramming Obama’s Sentences. This blog post takes a detailed look at a lengthy, yet balanced, sentence spoken by President Obama.
- Personification Wants to Make You Happy. Take a look at popular products that are made to seem like real people.
- Church Bulletin Funnies. Taken from actual church bulletins, these news announcements could have used a little editing prior to publication.
- Do not go punctuating on a lark. Using Dylan Thomas’ poem as inspiration, this short piece urges writers to take care with their apostrophe usage.
- 5 Typos That Broke the Bank. Read this post to learn how expensive these typos were.
- A Poem of Plurals and Pronouns. This fun poem details some of the irregularities in the English language.
- Eight rules for business writing. These eight rules are actually Kurt Vonnegut’s rules for fiction writing and are a fun reminder for any writer.
- The English Blog’s Top Ten Words of 2009. Take a look at these ten words that got plenty of use over the past year.
- Dork, dork, geek.If you’ve ever wondered about the difference between a geek, dork, dweeb, and nerd, then check out this post.
- The dash isn’t silent, it’s a myth. Try to overlook the comma splice in the title to find out about a mythical trend in the baby-naming community that relies on a punctuation mark.
- how about we don’t have ANYBODY blow up?. This sign is a great example of why you should pay attention to style.
- Rhyming ‘orange’. If you grew up with teachers telling you there was no rhyming word for the word "orange," then you may like this post.