Monday, December 31, 2012

Grammar Shaming: “Who’s” Fault Is It?

There are very few things more annoying than a glaring grammar error in an otherwise acceptable piece of writing.

As lovers of language, you and I have a natural instinct to fix these errors. How do we deal, for example, with declarations that tweak our nose?

“I like her to.

Its a cold day.”

Seriously, people?!

Sometimes these grammar hiccups seem engineered to drive us up a wall, and they begin to take on a sinister quality.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Nauseous vs. Nauseated: What’s the Difference?

Even though nauseous and nauseated are often used to mean feeling unwell, many purists insist that nauseous means “causing nausea” while nauseated means “feeling sick.” Casually, it is probably OK to use both words to mean feeling ill. However, in more formal situations, use each word correctly.

Find helpful usage tips, clarifying examples, and spelling tricks below.

Usage Tips

  • Nauseating is a good substitute for nauseous when you’re talking about something that causes nausea.

Stop saying St. Patty’s Day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! While you’re drinking green beer and counting shamrock leaves, you might end up debating a popular St. Patrick’s Day question: is it St. Patty’s Day or St. Paddy’s Day?

It’s easy to think that Patrick ought to be shortened to “Patty.” The name contains a T rather than a D, after all. However, “Paddy” comes from the Irish name Padraig, which is the reason St.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

What kind of writer are you?

This poll is part of a series that Grammarly is running aimed at better understanding how the public feels about writing, language learning, and grammar.

Please take the poll and share your thoughts in the comments. We can’t wait to hear from you!

If you are interested in more, check out last week’s poll.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Nobel Prize, Modern Shakespeare, and Tweeting Your Way to Better Writing

This week, Svetlana Alexievich broke new ground in the literary world by becoming the first journalist to win the Nobel Prize for her nonfiction writing. In other news, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival has commissioned a rewrite of Shakespeare’s plays and the Internet can be both a friend and foe when it comes to your writing. Check out the full stories below:

Our Favorite Stories:

  1. 2015 Nobel Prize for Literature Winner Svetlana Alexievich’s Life and Writing, Explained (Vox)
  2. Shakespeare in Modern English? (The New York Times)
  3. How Twitter’s 140-Character Limit Made Me a Better Writer (Life Hacker)
  4. Internet Distraction: The Writer’s Main Dilemma (The Huffington Post)

Staff Book Picks of the Week:

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms (A Song of Ice and Fire) (Fiction) George R.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Neat-O! Vintage Slang Words to Add to Your Modern Vocabulary

Language changes over time. The popularity of words, especially slang or words related to technology or trends, ebbs and flows. Some long-forgotten words, however, are worth resurrecting. If you’re looking to add a retro update to your vocabulary, here are a few words and phrases from the last hundred years to try out.

1920s: The cat’s meow: The best or greatest. Your iPhone case is the cat’s meow!

What Is a Common Noun?

A common noun is the generic name for a person, place, or thing in a class or group. Unlike proper nouns, a common noun is not capitalized unless it either begins a sentence or appears in a title. Common nouns can be concrete (perceptible to the senses), abstract (involving general ideas or qualities), or collective (referring to a group or collection).

All nouns can be classified as either common or proper.

Monday, December 17, 2012

POLL: What is the “scariest” writing issue that you see in professional emails?

All of us know that business emails should be professional, meaning they should be free of basic spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors. Often, however, business emails are filled with errors. For better or worse, those errors make the writer seem not only unprofessional, but often also unqualified.

What do you think? 

Let us know and cast your vote!

Friday, December 14, 2012

This Week in Writing, 8/29-9/4

Happy Friday! Once again it’s time for our weekly roundup of stories about writing, books, and authors. Have something you’d like to see us cover here? Let us know in the comment section!

Our Favorite Stories:

1 Tips for Aspiring Writers in 12 Infographics (Ebook Friendly)

2 Writing Tips from a Supreme Court Justice (Time)

3 J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Trivia Tweets (Salon)

4 Good Grammar Can Keep You Out of Trouble (Grammarly)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What Is a Protagonist?

  • Protagonist comes from a Greek word for the principal actor in a drama.
  • In modern literature, the protagonist drives the story forward by pursuing a goal.
  • The protagonist of a story is sometimes called the main character.
  • The protagonist of a story is opposed by an antagonist.

If you have ever taken a writing or literature class, you probably heard someone refer to a protagonist.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Celebrities on Twitter: Who makes more mistakes?

Grammarly recently compiled a list of the 25 most recent tweets from each of the top 150+ celebrities on Twitter, based on number of followers. Our team of proofreaders then corrected these tweets for spelling and grammar errors. Here’s a general overview of what we found:

  • Female celebrities make fewer overall writing errors (11.1 mistakes per 100 words) than male celebrities (13.0 mistakes per 100 words) on Twitter
  • Musicians are the worst writers in any category of celebrity, including politician, actor, athlete, and business leader, with an average of 14.5 mistakes per 100 words.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Thrusted? The Past Tense of Thrust

  • Thrust is the standard past tense form of the verb thrust.
  • Thrusted exists, but it is rare.

Have you ever flown in an airplane? Thrust is one of the things that makes the aircraft move in the sky. According to HowStuffWorkst, thrust is “the aerodynamic force that pushes or pulls the airplane forward through space.” Planes use jet engines or propellers to create thrust. Why the lesson in aerodynamics?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Top Student Writing Mistakes: The Real “Madness” in Higher Education

According to some estimates, March Madness costs companies up to $134 million in lost productivity — with employees streaming the tournament online, updating brackets, participating in office pools, and more.

Imagine if the United States cared as much about the quality of a school’s curriculum as we do about the caliber of its basketball team?

In keeping with the competitive spirit of the NCAA basketball championship, the Grammarly team created a “tournament” of our own.

Are gender-neutral pronouns the wave of the future?

The reader must understand that they are at the mercy of the author’s imagination.

What’s wrong with the sentence above? Some might say there is nothing at all is wrong with it. Others, however, will take issue with the use of ‘they,’ a plural pronoun, in place of the singular ‘reader.’ How can this sentence be corrected? Some would use ‘he’ in place of ‘they,’ with the understanding that masculine pronouns are a stand-in for proper nouns of either gender.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Declaration of Independence: A Lesson in Language History

Language is constantly evolving – a fact made especially clear when we take a look at historical documents and note how writing norms have shifted over the years. The further back we go, the bigger the shift. The Declaration of Independence, for example, represents a version of English that is noticeably different than that which we use to communicate today.

What are the main grammatical differences between Thomas Jefferson’s version of English and our own?