Friday, November 30, 2012

Finding a Rhyme and Reason for National Poetry Month

Academia teaches us to use proper nouns, pronouns, and punctuation, but what about other types of writing? What about types of writing, like fiction or poetry, which capture a reader in ways beyond the period or comma?

April is National Poetry Month, and a great time to help writers to answer these questions — even if in an intangible way. For example, to strict grammarians, poetry may seem as though it has no rules.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

You Can Bet Your Bottom Dollar That We Love Idioms!

In the United States, April 15 is Tax Day, the Internal Revenue Service’s tax filing deadline. While filing taxes can cause stress and frustration, language lovers can find some solace in these creative idioms about money. Here are three of our favorites:

Bet one’s bottom dollar Your “bottom dollar” is the last dollar you have. If you’re betting your bottom dollar, you’re probably very sure that what you’re betting on will turn out the way you think it will.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

6 Quick Tips for Writing Emails That Actually Get Things Done

How many emails do you send per day? With over 200 billion emails going out every single day, there’s a good chance at least a couple of them are coming from you. But if you’re not structuring your emails properly, you may be making both your and your recipient’s lives more difficult than they need to be.

Whether you’re asking for customer support, planning a party, or sending a work email, the following tips will help you craft efficient and effective emails that actually get things done.

Monday, November 26, 2012

According to our Facebook friends, learning grammar in school is important

It seems that people not only care about using grammar, but also about using it correctly. 

(Photo source:

On Monday, we ran an informal poll on our Facebook page. After a recent article in the Huffington post discussing an increased demand for grammar study in education, we asked our followers: “Do you think studying grammar in school is important?” The results were unsurprising, but overwhelmingly one-sided.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Separate vs. Seperate

Along with loose and definitely, separate is one of the most commonly misspelled words in the English language. Separate can be an adjective or a verb. As an adjective, it means set apart, distinct, or not related. As a verb, it means to to set apart, to distinguish, or to divide. Separate is often misspelled as seperate, a word that has no meaning and is simply a misspelling:

They took two separate rooms.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Gist or Jist?

  • Gist means “essence” or “the main point.”
  • In a legal context, gist is the grounds of a legal action.
  • Jist is a common misspelling of gist.

If you’ve only heard the word gist aloud, you might not know how to spell it. Both gist and jist might seem like good choices, but one of them is not.

Definition of Gist

When we say we want to get the gist of something, we’re talking about its essence or main point:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

5 More Endangered Words

New words come into use, old words slowly fade away. It’s a natural, all-too-familiar cycle. We’ve already covered words that may be headed toward extinction. Here are five more words in various stages of endangerment. But, who knows? Maybe some of them can still be saved—but should we save all of them?

Tag isn’t a word that’ll disappear anytime soon, as long as things still cost money and come with price tags.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Whilst vs. While—Which Is Correct?

Whilst and while are two words with identical meanings—usually. But you can’t always use whilst instead of while.

Typically, Brits use whilst and Americans use while. That’s the main difference. When used as a conjunction or an adverb, while and whilst are interchangeable:

There wasn’t much Stanley could do while he waited.

There wasn’t much Stanley could do whilst he waited.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

What is a Reflexive Pronoun?

Reflexive pronouns are words ending in -self or -selves that are used when the subject and the object of a sentence are the same (e.g., I believe in myself). They can act as either objects or indirect objects. The nine English reflexive pronouns are myself, yourself, himself, herself, oneself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, and themselves.

Grammatical terms might seem complicated and a bit arbitrary when you first hear them, but they really aren’t, once you get to know them.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Freelancers–You Can Move Past Burnout. Here’s How.

It might start out resembling a normal workday.

Being a freelance writer is easy, and nothing ever goes wrong, you tell yourself.

You’re there. The requisite coffee is there. The well-worn keyboard sits just below the screen, which pulses steadily with notifications of various tasks, deadlines, and expectations. You’re used to this. Some part of you might even feed on it.

But then, something abnormal happens.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Comma Before Which

  • Use a comma before which when it introduces a nonrestrictive phrase.
  • Don’t use a comma before which when it’s part of a prepositional phrase, such as “in which.”
  • Don’t use a comma before which when it introduces an indirect question.

Comma Before Which in Nonrestrictive Phrases

A nonrestrictive phrase adds a little bit of extra (but not essential) information about a noun phrase that you’ve already mentioned in your sentence.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

What Is the Singular They, and Why Should I Use It?

Last year, Grammarly polled our social audiences to see if they supported gender-neutral pronoun usage. The results were a bit surprising: more than half of the audience polled felt that the idea of gender-neutral pronouns was a nonstarter.

With this knowledge, I’d like to make an appeal to our audience: consider the singular they. Language has changed a lot in the last year, with the singular they being voted the most important word of the year, and numerous dictionaries adding gender-neutral usage notes.

3 Poems You Can Memorize and Recite (to Impress Your Friends)

Reading poetry is a wonderful experience, but have you ever memorized and recited a poem? Saying the words aloud gives the poem new life and highlights some of the nuances in the language. Here are three short poems you can memorize and recite for your friends and family.

“First Fig” by Edna St. Vincent Millay My candle burns at both ends; It will not last the night; But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends— It gives a lovely light.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

“Which World Leader Do You Write Like?” Quiz

You have greatness in you. Cultivating it often takes role models, mentors, and loads of hard work. This fun quiz will help you find out which famous world leader you most resemble in your writing and may help you find an inspiring role model.

What world leader did you get? What others do you look up to?

Monday, November 5, 2012

What’s your opinion about academic writing standards?

Academic writing is the epitome of formality and requires generally strict adherence to various style guides—usually a different standard for each subject. Should academic writing and English remain strict and formal, or is it time to relax the rules a bit?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

How Grammar Influences Legal Interpretations

Grammar is important, but it’s not a matter of life or death. Or is it? How does grammar influence the legal system? Researchers decided to find out by conducting an experiment. Does the wording of the description of a murder affect whether jurors classify a crime as first- or second-degree murder? According to their findings, “legal judgments can be affected by grammatical aspect but [most significantly] limited to temporal dynamics… In addition, findings demonstrate that the influence of grammatical aspect on situation model construction and evaluation is dependent upon the larger linguistic and semantic context.” In other words, grammar plays a part, but the study participants also paid attention to context when making their decisions.