Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Technology That Can Help You Write Better

Writing is a creative and magical process. There’s no telling when inspiration will strike—or what unique conditions will help us access our creativity.

Over the centuries, writers have discovered what worked best for them—no matter how unusual. Agatha Christie penned her murder mysteries in the bathtub while eating apples and drinking tea. Gertrude Stein was known for writing on the go, sitting in her Model T with a pencil and notepad while her wife drove her around running errands.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

How to Customize Your Writing in Job Applications

Writing job applications is a necessary evil that awaits most of us. On the plus side, applications allow us to reach for the stars—or at least for employers we would never be able to reach through recommendations or word of mouth. On the flip side, they offer the same opportunity to hundreds of other people who are also looking for a job. To make matters even worse, in this day and age you can’t use the same résumé and cover letter for every job post you see.

Comma Before Such As

The phrase such as requires a comma in front of it only if it’s part of a nonrestrictive clause.

When to Use a Comma Before Such As

Here’s an example of such as used correctly with a comma in a sentence:

In this forest, you’ll see many types of coniferous trees, such as pine and spruce.

The phrase such as pine and spruce is nonrestrictive, so you need a comma. How can you tell it’s nonrestrictive?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

How to Write Interesting Stories

April 27 is Tell a Story Day, a great time for writers at all levels to finally share the stories that they’ve been keeping to themselves. But, what if the story you want to tell isn’t quite ready for its debut?

We encourage you to find a different story to tell! How, you ask? Read on . . .

Famous writers approached their writing in different ways, but one commonality involved extracting stories from real life experiences.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Introducing the Diaeresis

The New Yorker is a quirky magazine. Sure, it’s a go-to when you’re looking to read high-quality writing, but the magazine’s style is full of peculiarities. There are the double consonants where you don’t expect them, as in the word “travelled.” There’s the spelling out of numbers, even the really long ones. And there are the words like “coöperate” and “reëlect,” which are written with two tiny dots over the second o and the second e.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Monday Motivation Hack: Avoid Negativity

Mondays induce negativity like no other day. After all, weekends are straight-up awesome. If we’re lucky, we get to sleep in, enjoy a breakfast that’s not rushed, and maybe savor a cup of coffee while laughing at YouTube videos of dogs failing at being dogs. Sometimes, we have exciting activities planned. Sometimes we get to enjoy leisure time. And sure, sometimes we work. But let’s not talk about that here, deal?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Writers, Get Ready for NaNoWriMo!

Every November, wordsmiths around the globe take on the ultimate writing challenge—to crank out a 50,000-word novel in just thirty days. The event is called NaNoWriMo (an acronym for National Novel Writing Month), and last year it drew 431,626 participants. Although the format is meant to encourage quick, seat-of-your-pants writing, the words writers churn out during the annual event aren’t necessarily for naught.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Spelling counts: make sure you use these words correctly

Do you know the answer? Read on to find out which one is correct!

There are many (perhaps countless) homophones in the English language. These are words and phrases that sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings. Here are three commonly confused homophones worth knowing:

1. A while vs. awhile A while refers to a period of time. In this construction, ‘while’ acts as a noun.

Monday, December 16, 2013

What’s the Difference Between Grammar Correction and Grammar Trolling?

Prescriptive English grammar seems to be one of those things that either impassions you or inspires some level of dread. Lovers of English grammar and usage are energized by mastering the rules of a messy and disorganized language. For the rest of us, our feelings run the gamut from indifference to loathing as we muddle through a seemingly arbitrary organizational system and apply it to something as individual as language.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Cool Things We Do With Words: Vows, Oaths, and Promises

What is more special than a promise? As children (and let’s be honest, as adults, too) we valued promises highly among our friends and family. The act of promising and the act of being worth promising something to elevates our relationships. It’s a perfect example of how beautiful and powerful words can be.

There are a lot of amazing activities we do with words and language. Few are as sacred or important as the vows or oaths that we make throughout our lives.

Learn Your Homophones: Pear, Pair, and Pare

Pair: two of something, usually that are similar or go together. For example:

I’m going to buy a new pair of shoes.
Johnny and Sally make a cute pair.

Pear: a fruit. For example:

Rufus is eating an apple, and I am eating a pear.
The pear was ripe and juicy.

Pare: trim (something) by cutting away its outer edges; cut the skin off of something; reduce (something) in size, extent, quantity, or number, usually in a number of small successive stages.

Friday, December 6, 2013

7 Noteworthy Tips for Your First Week at a New Job

Congratulations on landing a new job!

Do you feel nervous or anxious about your first week? Being prepared will not only help you avoid stress but will also set the tone for the rest of your tenure at your new company. Check out these seven useful tips!

1 Build rapport with your colleagues. Your coworkers will be your allies if you take the time to create positive relationships with them.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

3 Trends That Will Dominate English Writing in 2017

Any way you slice it, 2016 has been a tough year.

We lost beloved novelists like Harper Lee and Gloria Naylor; lyricists like David Bowie, Prince, and Leonard Cohen; and book-character-embodying actors like Alan Rickman and Gene Wilder.

We expressed a dip in mood in our writing online. One study by social media analytics company Crimson Hexagon showed that popular retail holidays like Black Friday experienced a rise in negative sentiment in 2016, despite rosy predictions.

21 Ways to Inspire Creativity When You’re Out of Ideas

Every creative person is subject to the whims of a fickle muse that doesn’t always show up when we need it to. Fortunately, there are ways to make our minds a more hospitable place for ideas. Read on for twenty-one easy tips that will help you make inspiration a more frequent guest.

1 Listen to music.

Multiple studies show that music can increase creativity and focus. Research indicates that listening to classical is only really beneficial if you actually like that style of music, so listen to something you enjoy that isn’t too novel or distracting.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

What’s the Worst Poem of all Time?

It was a Sunday evening, the 28th of December in the year 1879. A dire storm was hitting Scotland hard—in Glasgow, the wind speed was measured at 71 mph. In Dundee, the wind was pummeling the bridge over the Firth of Tay, the Tay Rail Bridge, blowing at a speed of 80 mph and at a right angle. The wind, along with questionable design and craftsmanship of the bridge, was blamed when the the bridge collapsed that night, taking with it a train that was passing over it and the lives of everyone aboard.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Gone vs. Went–Learn the Difference

Went is the past tense of go. Gone is the past participle of go.


I go to the store. (present tense)
I went to the store. (past tense)
I have gone to the store. (past participle)

If you aren’t sure whether to use gone or went, remember that gone always needs an auxiliary verb before it (has, have, had, is, am, are, was, were, be), but went doesn’t.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Grammar Basics: What Is Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement?

Pronouns need antecedents. That means that the thing (or person, or place) that the pronoun refers to needs to have been mentioned already by name somewhere earlier in the sentence or paragraph. If it’s not clear which thing the pronoun refers to, the reader can get quite confused.

Learn more about pronoun-antecedent agreement.

To learn more about grammar and to help us celebrate National Grammar Day this March, visit our new resource page.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

How to Get Organized During Your Job Search: 6 Helpful Tips

Job hunting is no one’s favorite activity. Customizing your resume and cover letter for each position (not to mention typing the same information found in the resume you just attached into various application systems) can be grueling work. Job hunting is a full-time job, and you’re not getting paid a dime for it.

Getting organized can save you time and make the process less frustrating.

Monday, November 25, 2013

5 Book-to-Movie Adaptations Worth Your Time

1. Great Expectations (1947) Book: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens Rotten Tomatoes: 100% Fresh This film adaptation of the literary classic immediately became the standard for Dickens adaptations. However, none have really been able to live up to the power of this version. The use of black and white film (despite the availability of color technology) lends a degree of austerity that reflects themes from the novel quite well on the screen.

Friday, November 22, 2013

4 Fictional Families We Wish We Were Born Into

Our favorite authors create worlds, characters, and relationships that feel real to us. Here are four groups of siblings from literature we wish we were related to:

The March sisters in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March show us what true sisterhood is all about. They make up each other’s worlds, acting as playmates, enemies, counselors, and friends. Like many sisters, they could be arguing over a pair of shoes one minute and bonding over a family tragedy the next.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

5 Overwatch Teamwork Tactics You Can Take to Work

This one’s for the gamer geeks. You know who you are. You’re the ones with thumbs permanently crooked from working analog sticks, or one hand formed into a palsied claw from clenching your [insert gaming mouse brand of choice here] in a death grip. You’re the ones whose parents said would never amount to anything if all you did was play video games all day. (To which you had to retort, “I’m building hand-eye coordination!”)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Who cares about her education? Our Scholarship Giveaway Winner, of course!

On April 7, 2015 Grammarly partnered with Niche.com to launch the Grammarly $1000 Scholarship Giveaway. We know how difficult finding money for college can be which is why, this time around, we did away with the essay requirements — college is tough enough without the added stress of explaining why you need money to continue your studies. We get it.

Over 10,000 students entered our scholarship giveaway, and we’re pleased to announce that Miranda Fichter is our lucky winner.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Are you passionate about grammar? March forth with us on National Grammar Day!

March 4th is National Grammar Day in the United States. Each year we rally all the grammar-loving troops to raise awareness about the value of proper grammar and about good writing overall. This year we have some exciting initiatives to get everyone thinking about good grammar!

The Grammarly Grammar Nerd Personality Quiz

Every English language lover knows that not every grammar fiend is created equally.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

8 Phrases That Can Make Your Business Writing Seem Outdated

The workplace is constantly evolving, with new generations coming in as the older ones retire. For the many professionals caught in between these two age groups, it’s important to adapt to new work styles. The millennial generation has complicated this even further. There have been reports that some millennials aren’t as quick to adapt to new work environments, but rather sometimes expect businesses to change to meet their needs.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Does the U.S. need to invest more in English education?

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.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The 5 Most Famous Limericks and Their Histories

Edward Lear’s first influential limerick collection, A Book of Nonsense, hit bookstore shelves nearly 200 years ago. Lear didn’t invent the limerick, however; the snappy five-line poems probably sprang to life on the streets and in the taverns of 14th century Britain. Over time, people from all walks of life — children, scholars, drunks, beggars — have delighted in the witty limerick.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Holiday Gift Guide 2015: Get the Perfect Book for Everyone on Your List

You know what feels great? Getting your holiday shopping done and out of the way early. One way to accomplish that is by keeping your game plan simple. Need a present for Aunt Trish? Book. For your brother-in-law? Book. For a special someone who just might be the one? Two books! Read on to find Grammarly’s hand-picked recommendations for everyone on your list:

The History Buff

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States, Sarah Vowell Sarah Vowell, widely adored for her ability to make nearly any moment in history at once fascinating, hilarious, and startlingly relevant to the world of today, offers yet another gem: an insightful and unconventional account of George Washington’s trusted officer and friend, that swashbuckling teenage French aristocrat, the Marquis de Lafayette.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Everytime or Every Time?

Everytime should be written as two separate words: every time. While some compound words like everywhere, everyday, and everyone have become commonplace in the English language, everytime is not considered an acceptable compound word. Consider the examples below:

You don’t need to remind me to do the dishes everytime.
You don’t need to remind me to do the dishes every time.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Monday Motivation Hack: Coffee Alternatives

You’re jittery, sweaty, and unable to focus. What had seemed like the perfect dose of java to power all your feats of Monday superheroism has betrayed you.

In the throes of a caffeine come-down, as you blearily attempt to finish drafting your project update, you swear:

“I’m going to quit coffee.”

Though there are good reasons for healthy people to consume coffee in moderation, some individuals may find themselves overdoing it or may be simply too sensitive to the acidity or caffeine.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Q Without U: 9 Must-Know Words to Celebrate Scrabble Day!

This Monday, April 13, is Scrabble Day, and Grammarly is celebrating with our fellow word-lovers, Dictionary.com!

Guest post by Michele Turner, CEO at Dictionary.com

Can you play a Q without a U in Scrabble? Whether you’re playing Scrabble, Words With Friends, or any other fun word game, here is a list of nine high-scoring solutions for the “Q conundrum,” so that you can make winning words with the letter Q — without its traditional letter companion, the U.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

How to Troll-proof Your Writing

You’ve just read an interesting article online. It covered a subject you’re passionate about, so you dash off a brilliant comment. It begins:

Your right about most of your assessments, but I think you missed the big picture.

You go on to write a carefully-worded paragraph, and you’re certain everyone who reads it will be dazzled by your brilliant insights. And then the first reply to your comment rolls in and it’s simply:

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

“Beck and Call” or “Beckon Call”—Which Is Right?

  • Beck and call is the correct way to spell this phrase.
  • To be at someone’s beck and call means you are ready to obey their orders or commands.
  • Beckon call is not the correct way to spell the phrase.

Even though it’s not a phrase you’ll hear every day, it’s good to know whether beck and call is the correct way to say it, or if it should be beckon call.

Beck and Call vs. Beckon Call—Which Is Correct?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Prepositions of Direction

Prepositions of direction give readers a sense of place or location. The following chart lists different prepositions of direction, their definitions, and examples.

Preposition Meaning Example
above higher relative to something else The milk is above the soda in the refrigerator.
across on the other side of My friend lives across the street from me.
along beside The ducks are eating along the river.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

How to Take a Break Without Breaking Focus

We all procrastinate from time to time and struggle to get things done. For years, much of the dialogue around procrastination has been about how to fight it and, theoretically, win. However, that approach has left a whole lot of us—included me—feeling pretty pathetic when we just can’t kick the habit. Turns out, we’ve been duped. For the last several years, experts have made headway in transforming procrastination from an evil that must be vanquished to a tool worth embracing in all its paradoxical and oxymoronic glory.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

When Should I Use Inquire vs. Enquire?

  • Traditionally, enquire simply meant “ask,” while inquire was used for formal investigations.
  • In the UK, the two words are used interchangeably, although inquire is still the more commonly used word for formal or official investigations.
  • In the United States, inquire is the strongly preferred spelling in all uses.

For the most part, you can use either enquire or inquire and not make a mistake.

Monday, October 21, 2013

How To Keep Your Kids Writing During Holiday Break

Writing is like falling in love. Those who really succeed at the endeavor are those who are willing to put their hearts out there and risk being rejected. As you can imagine, this can be a wonderful experience–or it can be agonizing. At least for adults.

For children, falling in love with writing is less dramatic. It’s about learning to tell their stories and committing to paper all of the make-believe worlds they have created.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Ernest Hemingway Liked to “Do It” Standing Up

I know it’s dirty and unconventional, but I liked to do it outside in college.

The first time was spring semester of my freshman year, and once I started I just couldn’t stop. Because I went school in Wisconsin, the passing of the seasons limited when I could indulge in the grassy common areas around campus — but when the weather was right I’d do it outdoors for hours. As a young, open-minded philosophy student, it didn’t take much to turn me on — to writing.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

What to Write for Fathers’ Day

Like birthdays, Christmas, and Hanukkah, Father’s Day can be rough. Yes, it is a great opportunity to recognize our fathers (and father figures) for their profound impact in our lives, but it is also a time when many of us feel tongue-tied.

How can we tell dad exactly what he means to us in a simple card or letter? Here are five tips for writing the perfect note to dad in honor of Father’s Day:

Monday, October 14, 2013

Colour or Color—Which Is Correct?

  • When choosing between color and colour, keep in mind that both spellings are correct.
  • The shorter one, color, is the preferred spelling in the United States.
  • The rest of the English-speaking world uses the longer form, colour.

How do you spell color? You’ll see other writers do it two ways—the one we’ve already used in this sentence, and another one—colour. Neither of the spellings is wrong, and they both mean exactly the same thing.

Friday, October 11, 2013

8 Writing Tools Every Writer Should Know About

As a writer, you may be working harder than you need to if you are not using the available tools for your job. The old adage “there’s no need to reinvent the wheel” certainly applies to this situation. Have no fear, we’re here to help with eight writing tools that all writers should consider adding to their toolboxes.

1 LiveScribe Pen

Do you get writing inspiration from your daily life?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Resume Objective: Valuable to Have or Thing of the Past?

The average recruiter spends about six seconds looking at your resume, and you’ve got to make every one of them count. Do resume objectives help or hurt you?

A resume objective is a short statement that outlines your career direction. Objective statements were once the standard on every job-seeker’s resume. A decade or so ago, you wouldn’t have sent out a resume without one. But times change, and what recruiters look for in a standard CV has changed, too.

5 Memos That Went Terribly Wrong

In the world of digital communications, pretty much everyone can relate to an email experience going terribly wrong at work. Ever hit “reply all” and sprayed a private message to a group of co-workers and lived to regret it?

Writing internal business communications shouldn’t be fraught with peril, but for these unfortunate executives, things went terribly wrong. From the ridiculous to the tragic, take a look at these five truly terrible business memos.

Monday, October 7, 2013

What Are Personal Pronouns?

A personal pronoun is a short word we use as a simple substitute for the proper name of a person. Each of the English personal pronouns shows us the grammatical person, gender, number, and case of the noun it replaces. I, you, he, she, it, we they, me, him, her, us, and them are all personal pronouns.

Personal pronouns are the stunt doubles of grammar; they stand in for the people (and perhaps animals) who star in our sentences.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Beyoncé Was Wrong About This Word

If you’ve ever played Dungeons & Dragons or listened to Destiny’s Child, chances are likely that you have heard the words bugbear and bugaboo. For the D&D players of the world, a bugbear is a hairy, giant-like goblin. For Destiny’s Child fans, a bugaboo is a particularly annoying boy who just won’t stop calling you (or paging you, or showing up to your house unannounced). These definitions aren’t exactly what the words were used for back when they first came into existence during the Middle Ages.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Present Continuous

The present continuous verb tense indicates that an action or condition is happening now, frequently, and may continue into the future.

The Present Continuous Formula: to be [am, is, are] + verb [present participle]

Aunt Christine is warming up the car while Scott looks for his new leather coat. They are eating at Scott’s favorite restaurant today, Polly’s Pancake Diner.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

What Does Imperative Mean?

Imperative can be one of the following:

  • An adjective meaning “completely necessary” or “very important,” but also “commanding.”
  • A noun meaning “a necessity” or “something that is not avoidable,” but also “a command.”
  • In grammar, imperative is also one of the four main verb moods.

Imperative is one of those words that shouldn’t be thrown around unless there’s a very good reason for it.

Friday, September 27, 2013

7 Fundamental Rules of Poetry

Some people let poetry intimidate them because they get the idea that poetry is all about rhyming, iambic pentameter, and obscure language. While it is true that some of the most beautiful poems are also difficult to understand, poetry in general isn’t that tough. By following some simple guidelines, you can pen verses that are poignant, pure, and easy on the ears.

Employ Imagery

Thursday, September 26, 2013

What Is Comradery?

  • Comradery is a spirit of friendship and community between two people or a group of people.
  • Camaraderie is the more popular spelling, but comradery is an acceptable alternate.

Comradery is easy to find among the members of a winning team. Victorious teammates might high-five each other and recount the highlights of the game. Success creates a bond for the players that often continues off the court.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

How Gaming Can Up-Level Your Communication at Work

The guild’s next raid will be a daring one: your small company is barely a month away from unveiling its new product. Everyone in your party will need to understand the plan and play their part in this perilous adventure.

Andrea, a level-thirty design mage, is worried there might be hidden traps en route to the treasure. Ben and Eduardo, both seasoned software paladins, are not certain the team can crank out enough rapid-fire damage to finish off the nefarious code lich in time.

Monday, September 23, 2013

This Week in Writing, 9/5-9/11

Do you ever worry that one day someone will invent a robot that puts you out of a job? If you happen to be a choose-your-own adventure novelist, that worry just might have become a little bit more real. Check out that story and a few other highlights from around the web this week. Have something you’d like to see us cover here? Let us know in the comment section!

Our Favorite Stories:

  1. Georgia Tech’s AI Is a Choose-Your-Own Adventure Author (Engadget)
  2. The Most Popular Books in U.S.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Typos: Should You Forgive or Forget?

Typos–we all hate them–but are some typos more unforgivable than others? That depends largely on what you are writing and for what audience. Below are several typo scenarios ranging from green light (no problem, speed on ahead) to yellow (caution) to red light (zero, and I do mean zero, typos allowed). A good general rule of thumb is the wider the audience and more formal the setting, the less “allowable” the typos.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Best Podcasts to Help Your Work Life

Some say you are what you eat. What about what you listen to? Edison Research found that people who listen to podcasts “often take action in direct response” to what they hear. If you have a career goal, it only makes sense that listening to an informational or motivational podcast on the subject will help you. Here are seven of the best podcasts for improving life at work.

Brain Training Podcast

According to its website, Brain Training Podcast is “the daily audio workout for your head.” Just as physical exercise strengthens your body, mental stimulation makes your brain stronger.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Ax vs. Axe–What’s the Difference?

Ax and axe are different spellings of the same word. There is no difference in meaning or pronunciation. However, you might be surprised by all the possible meanings these two spellings share. The Merriam-Webster lists three primary definitions besides the cutting tool. Axe also refers to a hammer with a sharp edge for dressing or spalling stone. Musical instruments, such as guitars and saxophones, are also axes.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Brought and Bought—Learn the Difference Quickly

Brought and bought are two words are often confused with each other, particularly when one first learns English. They are both irregular verbs with an -ough- construction—a combination that trips many up with both pronunciation and spelling.

The Difference between “Brought” and “Bought”

Brought is the past tense and past participle of the verb to bring, which means “to carry someone or something to a place or person.”

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Speak Like Yoda You Can

Whether you’re a diehard Star Wars fan or you’re still a newbie, chances are you know Yoda speak when you hear it. The Jedi master’s method of speaking includes quirky sentence structures, unusual words, and wise phrases. Read on for some theories of Yoda-speak and a guide to talking like Yoda on your own.

Yoda’s East African Roots

If you’ve ever thought that Yoda’s way of speaking sounds almost primeval, you’re not far off.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

What is the Most Maddening Writing Error? Misused Apostrophes

Grammarly’s cut-throat competition to determine the most “maddening” writing error concluded on April 6, 2014 with MISUSED APOSTROPHES crowned as the undisputed Grammar Madness bracket champion.

Tens of thousands of grammarians voted in 16 separate match-ups representing the most annoying errors in English writing.

According to one voter in the final match-up between YOUR/YOU’RE and MISUSED APOSTROPHES: “[I]t seems like there is a whole new wave of people who believe that you NEED an apostrophe and an ‘s’ to make a word plural.”

Monday, September 9, 2013

Modal Verbs–Definition and Usage

Modal verbs are auxiliary verbs (also called helping verbs) like can, will, could, shall, must, would, might, and should. After a modal verb, the root form of a verb is generally used. The word to should not appear after a modal verb. An exception is the phrase ought to, which is considered a modal verb.

Modal verbs add meaning to the main verb in a sentence by expressing possibility, ability, permission, or obligation.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Comparative and Superlative Adjectives: Rules and Examples

Adjectives can compare two things or more than two things. When we make these comparisons, we use comparative and superlative forms of adjectives.


One way to describe nouns (people, objects, animals, etc.) is by comparing them to something else. When comparing two things, you’re likely to use adjectives like smaller, bigger, taller, more interesting, and less expensive.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Grammar Basics: What Is the Perfect Form of “Be”?

Many of the most commonly used nouns have irregular conjugations in the past simple and perfect forms. “To be” is one of these. Learn more about perfect forms.

To learn more about grammar and to help us celebrate National Grammar Day this March, visit our new resource page.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Suppose vs. Supposed—Is There a Difference?

Supposed to is part of a modal verb phrase meaning expected to or required to. Although suppose to crops up frequently in casual speech and writing, it should not be used in that sense. Suppose (without the d) should only be used as the present tense of the verb meaning to assume (something to be true).

When to Use Supposed To

To be supposed to is a common phrase that functions the same way a modal verb does.

Friday, August 30, 2013

10 Interesting Facts About the English Language that You Didn’t Know

Guest Post by Rochelle Ceira

Did you know that enneacontakaienneagon is actually a word in the English language? (And you thought pronouncing supercalifragilisticexpialidocious was difficult?). In fact, the meaning of the word is just as bizarre as the word itself: it’s a shape with ninety-nine sides.


Compared to other languages, English may seem simple, but that is probably because most people don’t realize it is full of crazy inventions, misinterpretations, mistakes, strange words, and needless words!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Reddit Politics Writing Breakdown: The Right and Left Are Closer Than You Think

When it comes to language, it turns out that conservatives and liberals are more alike than you might think. The intrepid Grammarly team delved into the unfiltered political maelstrom on Reddit to get a look at how the Trump and Clinton subreddit communities write when they discuss the 2016 U.S. presidential election online. We used the Grammarly app’s powerful algorithms and new political correctness checks to find out not only how many spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors each camp made but also how often the software flagged their language as politically incorrect.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

10 Words That English Needs

A young man named John Koenig was trying to write poems. However, some emotions seemed difficult to express in words. He had the idea of creating words for these previously unnamed feelings in a dictionary. Thus, The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows was born. He began a website and a web series on Youtube that introduced his words to the world. Now, people everywhere can contribute to the dictionary.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Is Irregardless a Word?

  • Irregardless means the same thing as “regardless.”
  • Yes, it’s a word. But major dictionaries label it nonstandard.

Language is a living thing. No matter how many times we say it, it never gets any less true—language does resemble a living thing. It grows and changes, adapting to new circumstances, new words, new ways to use old words, and new combinations of letters and meaning. It’s a beautiful thing, the fact that language is alive.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?

It’s that time of year again. The days grow longer and the sunshine is determined to scorch. The parks fill up with children while picnics spread out in red and white gingham patches. The dog begs to go outside as we put away our heavy coats, hanging them neatly in closets. Long pants give way to shorts as coconut-scented oils fill the air with their perfume. It’s summer.

What phrases and books best evoke those fiery months?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Do You Understand the True Bard or the False? Some Shakespeare Etymologies

Guest post by Annie Martirosyan

There are a number of words in Shakespeare’s plays and poems which are deceptive to modern ears. They may seem familiar words but, in fact, camouflage a quite different meaning lost to modern English. In Linguistics, these words are called False Friends. A False Friend is a word which has kept its form but has strayed from its original sense (or was a completely different word) so that the modern English word is false when compared to the original sense or word.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Comma with Nonrestrictive Clause

A nonrestrictive clause offers extra information about something you have mentioned in a sentence, but the information isn’t essential to identify the thing you’re talking about. Nonrestrictive clauses are usually introduced by which or who and should be set off by commas.

Posey’s Cafe, which Chester recommended, is a fantastic restaurant.

The clause “which Chester recommended” is nonrestrictive because “Posey’s Cafe” is already specific.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Meet the Dictionary’s New Words

From Merriam-Webster’s Peter Sokolowski, here’s the full list of words

(we added a few notations about why certain words were added, via the m-w.com press release):

aha moment n (1939) : a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension [Oprah Winfrey’s signature phrase]

brain cramp n (1982) : an instance of temporary mental confusion resulting in an error or lapse of judgment

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Spelled or Spelt?

The verb spell commonly means to write or name the letters making up a word in the right order. Spell is a verb with irregular and regular forms. Spelled and spelt are both common forms of the past tense and the past participle of spell, though with geographical differences.

Learn more about the details of this difference, as well as additional uses for spelt, below.

Spelled or Spelt—Which Is Correct?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

How to Use the Word Ought

You ought to learn to use the word “ought.”

What you see above is a usage example of the verb “ought,” which has two different meanings.

1 “Ought” can indicate correctness or duty, often when criticizing the actions of another.

She ought to slow down so she doesn’t get a ticket.

2 “Ought” can indicate that something is probable.

Three minutes ought to be long enough.

Friday, August 9, 2013

In Between or In-between–What’s the Difference?

In between should always appear as two words. Although inbetween is common, it is a misspelling and does not appear in any English dictionary. Unnecessarily adding in to between is also a common grammatical mistake. As a compound adjective, in-between should be hyphenated.

Between, On Its Own, Is Often the Correct Choice

When we speak, we often add in before between when it isn’t needed.

Is It Favorite or Favourite?

It is sometimes said that the United States and the United Kingdom are two countries separated by a common language. Despite the fact that English is the most widely used language in both countries, a distinction is often made between the English used in the United States—American English—and the English used in the United Kingdom—British English. The differences between the two varieties of English are usually subtle, but they exist nonetheless, particularly around spelling.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What Is Verbing?

  • To verb a noun means to use an ordinary noun as a verb in a sentence.
  • English is flexible about the grammatical function of individual words. If you use a noun in the verb slot of a sentence, most people will understand what you mean.
  • Be careful about verbing in very formal contexts, especially when there is already a common verb that would convey your meaning. Some people find verbing annoying.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

What Is a Generic Noun?

Generic nouns are nouns that refer to all members of a class or group. They are often used when making generalizations or talking about universal truths. Generic nouns can be singular or plural, and be used with or without articles.

Let’s take, for example, the very simple noun book. When writing a sentence, we might have a certain book in mind.

My book fell in a puddle when I got off the bus.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Learn the Types of Writing: Expository, Descriptive, Persuasive, and Narrative

Whether you write essays, business materials, fiction, articles, letters, or even just notes in your journal, your writing will be at its best if you stay focused on your purpose. While there are many reasons why you might be putting pen to paper or tapping away on the keyboard, there are really only four main types of writing: expository, descriptive, persuasive, and narrative.

Each of these four writing genres has a distinct aim, and they all require different types of writing skills.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

What Is a Relative Pronoun and How Does It Work?

A relative pronoun is a word that introduces a dependent (or relative) clause and connects it to an independent clause. A clause beginning with a relative pronoun is poised to answer questions such as Which one? How many? or What kind? Who, whom, what, which, and that are all relative pronouns.

Relative clauses are also sometimes referred to as adjective clauses, because they identify or give us additional information about the subject of the independent clause they relate to.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Great Indentation Debate

Writers have a lot on their plates. They have to fend off writer’s block, perform meticulous research, and ensure the content they produce captivates their target audiences. They must pay close attention to catch grammatical errors, misspellings, punctuation mistakes, and typos. Formatting often takes a backseat on a writer’s priority list–especially when it involves something so seemingly trivial as indentation.

Monday, July 29, 2013

“Make Yourself At Home” with Good Grammar

Believe it or not, the quality of your writing significantly influences some of the most important milestones in your life.

In school, good grammar helps students to achieve higher grades. On the job, professionals with fewer grammar errors tend to achieve higher positions; their writing is demonstrative of the credibility, professionalism, and accuracy observable in their work. And in your personal life, better spelling and grammar can even earn you a date!

Friday, July 26, 2013

#GrammoWriMo FAQ

What is #GrammoWriMo?

In November 2013, in honor of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), Grammarly has organized the largest group of authors to collaborate on a single novel—we’re calling the project #GrammoWriMo.

How many people are participating?

More than 750 people have signed up to participate in #GrammoWriMo. We’ve divided the novel into 30 chapters—between 25 and 26 writers have been assigned to contribute to each chapter.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Presume vs. Assume

  • Presume is a verb that means to suppose, to take for granted, or to dare.
  • Assume is a verb that means to suppose, to take for granted, to take upon, to don, or to undertake.
  • In the shared meaning of “to suppose,” presume is usually used when you suppose based on probability, while assume is used when you suppose without any evidence.

What’s the difference between “assume” and “presume”?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

6 Email Etiquette Tips that May Surprise You

Email correspondence makes it simple, easy, and convenient to quickly contact coworkers and family members across the world. However, it isn’t all roses with email. If you don’t follow proper etiquette, you can end up annoying your recipients. You’ve probably already heard about basic email etiquette tips, like using a specific subject line and replying as quickly as you can, but there is more you can do to ensure that your emails resonate with the people you send them to.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Vaccum, Vacuum, or Vacume—Which Is Right?

  • Vacuum (spelled like so), means a complete lack of matter, or a device used for sucking up dirt or particles, or to use that device for cleaning.
  • Vaccum and vacume are misspellings of vacuum.

Physicists often talk about vacuums, but the rest of us also use this word when talking about cleaning devices. Spelling the word can be a bit tricky because of the two consecutive u’s, which aren’t often seen in English.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Is vs. Are

  • Use is with singular subjects and are with plural subjects.
  • Collective nouns usually take is, but you can use are if you need to emphasize the individuals who belong to the group.
  • Phrases like a number of… usually take a plural verb.

When deciding whether to use is or are, look at whether the noun is plural or singular. If the noun is singular, use is. If it is plural or there is more than one noun, use are.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Grammar Basics: What is Subjunctive?

Isn’t the imagination a wonderful thing? In English, the subjunctive mood expresses hypothetical and conditional expressions. Let’s explore.

How to Recognize the Subjunctive

Most of the time, the subjunctive mood of a verb looks exactly like the indicative form. The only way to know the difference between the two is by the context of the sentence. However, you can recognize third person singular verbs in the subjunctive mood because there is no S on the end of the them.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

5 Authors Who You May Not Know Were Women

Let’s say you’ve written your very first novel, and you’re shopping it around to various publishers. And they generally like it, or at least one of them does, but they have a weird request—you need to change your name before they’ll publish the book. Not legally, of course. That would be silly. Just, you know, assume a pen name or use your initials instead of your full name because it might help you reach certain segments of the market.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Would you text your boss?

What do you think about the state of writing in the workplace? Share your thoughts in our weekly poll!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Can You Pass This Difficult Spelling Quiz?

Quiz written by FutureTVWriter (link: https://www.playbuzz.com/futuretvwriter10)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Basics on Subject and Object Pronouns

Odds are good that the words “subjective and objective cases” mean nothing to you. “Case” is grammarian and linguistic jargon for categories of nouns based on the function of the noun in relation to the verbs and prepositions in a sentence.

It is even more confusing in English language because many cases have disappeared. Modern Ukrainian language has seven cases. Finnish has fifteen cases.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Five Golden Gags to Use at Your Holiday Party

We’ve hit the fifth day of LitMas, and we’re still going strong! If you’ve missed any of our previous LitMas gifts, here’s a quick summary:

On the fifth day of LitMas, Grammarly gave to (you) . . . Five golden gags, Four reading tips. Three French phrases, Two Christmas stories, And a poem that is wintery.

For our fifth installment, here are five games, jokes, and memes you can use at your office holiday party.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Need a Pick-Me-Up? 5 Best Short Stories of All Time

Short stories often go underappreciated, but they represent an art form few authors truly master. For readers, the short story is the perfect literary snack, a choice morsel that fills a spare hour, refreshes the brain, and gives a moment of escape from daily routines. When you need something to nibble and lack the time for a novel, feast your eyes on these tiny tomes with outsized impact.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Typos on Resumes: Should You Hire a Job Applicant Anyway?

Typos on Resumes: Should You Hire a Job Applicant Anyway?

Most hiring managers say they’d rule out a candidate for resume typos, but is that a good practice for your business? There are a few reasons it might not be.

Job applicants are urged to review their resumes more than a few times to ensure there are no misspellings or grammatical errors. To be safe, they should even have a friend or associate review it.

Monday, July 1, 2013

OMG, LOL!: 5 Communication Faux Pas You’re Making at Work

Is it okay to text in the office bathroom? Should you use emoticons in your cover letter? In this age of enhanced communication, it’s hard to avoid the occasional faux pas. Consider these five unfortunate souls whose poor communication etiquette undermined their professional authority.

Tia the Texter

Tia is a twenty-something working in a firm of baby boomers. She waltzes through life with her smartphone glued to her hand.

Friday, June 28, 2013

5 Ways to Write Concisely

Nobody writes a perfect first draft. Whether you love the red pen or hate it with a passion, your first draft will require some polishing. The trick is to write prose that’s brilliant yet brief, colorful yet concise. Here are five tips for writing concisely.

Cut Weasel Words

Even the best writers fall prey to weasel words. These pesky critters sneak into your writing, take up space, and contribute nothing.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

13 Common Distractions at Work and How to Fight Them

Whether you work in a busy office or a busy home, there’s plenty to distract you. Besides preventing you from getting things done, distractions can negatively impact your work relationships. For example, careless errors and forgotten appointments can damage your reputation in the eyes of your clients and colleagues. Don’t let it happen to you! Let’s identify strategies to fight thirteen common work distractions.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Monday Motivation Hack: Tame Your To-Do List

Whether it’s a to-do list that never seems to get done, a less-than-inspired morning routine, or a tendency to get distracted (damn you, social media!), we’ve all got a hole in our productivity armor somewhere. Every Monday, we’re going to be analyzing common bad habits that could be holding you back, and we’ll offer a hack or two to help you get more quality output from your time.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Top International Productivity Books

As a company striving to make people more productive and successful, we know a thing or two about the importance of having the right tools when there’s a job to be done. But even though Grammarly will help speed up your proofreading, you also need to know how to manage your time if you want to be more productive. That means prioritizing and fighting the urge to procrastinate. Our product can’t teach you those skills, but we can recommend some books that might help.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Where Do Ninjas, Zombies, and Robots Come From?

English is a language made up almost entirely of other languages. Between the fifth and seventh centuries, tribes from lands that would become Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands showed up in Britain. The languages they spoke developed into Middle English, butted heads with Old Norman (pre-French), and, in Shakespeare’s time, got a dose of Latin and Ancient Greek. Along the way, individual words from a host of other languages were added to the mix.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Right Way to Procrastinate, According to Productivity Experts

Just about everyone I know is a procrastinator on some level. Going by Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000-Hour Rule”, basically every college student is an expert procrastinator. But procrastination doesn’t mean putting off work forever and never doing it. For most people (even college students!), work that gets put off must eventually get done. From this perspective, the real masters of putting off work are those who still manage to get everything done and done well.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Monday Motivation Hack: Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

About three years ago, I decided to take a huge leap of faith. I sold almost everything I owned, packed my Toyota Sienna from floor to headliner with the stuff too precious to part with, and headed 2,000 miles west across rivers and mountains to an apartment I’d rented sight-unseen in a city I’d only ever driven past on vacation once. It’s the single scariest and best thing I’ve ever done.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

GRAMMARLY RESEARCH: Good Grammar Will Get You The Job

The informality of email, texting, and tweeting has crept into company communication–embarrassing management and leaving bad impressions with clients. Kyle Wiens, of iFixit and Dozuki, said in a July 2012 post on the Harvard Business Review blog, “I have a ‘zero tolerance approach’ to grammar mistakes that make people look stupid.” He requires job applicants to pass a grammar test before hiring them because writing is his business.

Business Advice from CEOs You Should Consider

Do you like avocado enough to trade your house for it?

Some people face this choice every day, according to one prosperous CEO, Tim Gurner. In an interview with an Australian news show, the thirty-something millionaire blamed avocado toast and fancy coffee for this generation’s lack of funds.

“When I was trying to buy my first home, I wasn’t buying smashed avocado for $19 and four coffees at $4 each,” Gurner said.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Political Correction: How “PC” and “Reclaimed” Words Got Their Start

Any Google News search for “political correctness” will yield three general groups of results: pieces slamming one public figure or another for their lack of politically correct discourse, thinkpieces describing why the “PC police” are ruining free speech, and articles debating whether certain actions or speech patterns are “politically correct.”

While online pundits and thinkpiece authors spend a lot of energy debating whether terms or usages are PC, or condemning certain figures for their use or avoidance of PC language, there aren’t as many discussions about the history of politically correct language.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Speak Like a Scientist: 4 Words to Try Using Differently

Scientific writing is known for its precision and accuracy. Other forms of written and spoken communication, however, are often filled with confusing and ambiguous vocabulary. Here are four words we’ve poached from the scientific world that should be adopted in non-scientific communication.

Abstract In scientific writing, an abstract summarizes the key points of a presentation or paper.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Despite vs. In Spite Of

What’s the difference between despite and in spite of?

The easy answer: none. Despite and in spite of, despite what you may have heard, work identically in a sentence.

In other words, these two prepositions, in spite of what you may have heard, are basically identical.

In most cases, both mean “notwithstanding,” “even though,” or “regardless of.”

Despite their similarities, keep these things in mind to make sure your usage gives no cause for complaint.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

7 Novels to Read for a Better Vocabulary

People read for a variety of reasons: entertainment, knowledge, understanding. There’s no better way to gain a larger vocabulary than by reading novels of all types and genres. Your high school teachers might have considered the classics the only true literature with educational value, but there are plenty of modern tales that can help you pick up new words to fling around at cocktail parties.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Present Perfect Continuous Tense

The present perfect continuous tense (also known as the present perfect progressive tense) shows that something started in the past and is continuing at the present time. The present perfect continuous is formed using the construction has/have been + the present participle (root + -ing).

I have been reading War and Peace for a month now.

In this sentence, using the present perfect continuous verb tense conveys that reading War and Peace is an activity that began sometime in the past and is not yet finished in the present (which is understandable in this case, given the length of Tolstoy’s weighty tome).

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Anymore vs. Any More

Is anymore one word or two? It depends on how you’re using it. We’re here to set the record straight.

Any more and anymore have related meanings, but they’re not interchangeable. Whether you make anymore one word or two depends on how you’re using it. Any more refers to quantities (Would you like any more tea?). Anymore is an adverb that refers to time (I don’t like tea anymore.).

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

7 Truly Horrifying Grammar Rules

Places with strict and unforgiving rules make great settings for spooky stories. Think about all the books and movies set against the backdrop of a strict school, a rigid convent, or an oppressive family home. The unyielding rules contribute to an atmosphere that invites creepiness. The same is true for grammar—when rules are enforced arbitrarily, sometimes horror ensues. Especially when it’s Halloween and the moon is full.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Mexican Novels to Help You Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Guest Post by Alice E.M. Underwood

No matter where you are, Cinco de Mayo is a day to celebrate Mexico’s country, culture, and misunderstood military history. The holiday doesn’t mark Mexican Independence, as is commonly thought in other countries that break out the margaritas in honor of May 5—instead, it recognizes Mexico’s unlikely victory over the French in 1862.

But this isn’t a history lesson: it’s a literature lesson.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Scrabble Day the Writers’ Way

Scrabble enthusiasts have a lot to look forward to as April 13 – Scrabble Day – approaches. Scrabble, which involves forming words with a set number of lettered tiles on a grid-like game board, is one of the most popular word games in the world. It is available in 29 languages, and has become a household name for families and word enthusiasts everywhere.

For grammarians, playing Scrabble can be a fun way to enhance creativity and polish your spelling.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

5 Amazing Library Facts

We know that libraries are portals to amazing knowledge and insight, but libraries themselves are also pretty amazing. Here are 5 facts about libraries that will amaze you.

1. According to the American Library Association, 58% of adults in the United States have a library card.

2. The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library. It contains over 160 million items!

3. According to the American Library Association, students in the United States make 1.5 billion visits to school libraries during the school year.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

14 Expressions with Crazy Origins that You Would Never Have Guessed

Guest post by Anais John

You probably use tons of expressions, idioms, and slang phrases every day that don’t make literal sense. If you ever thought long and hard about why you say something a certain way, you could probably make a guess. However, some English expressions are so crazy and unusual that it is impossible to guess where on earth it originated from — unless you know the history.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Let Your Love of Poetry Bloom: 3 Poems about Spring

It’s spring, a season of hope and renewal! Celebrate spring with these three poems about the beauty of the season.

“Flower God, God of the Spring” by Robert Louis Stevenson

Flower god, god of the spring, beautiful, bountiful,

Cold-dyed shield in the sky, lover of versicles,

Here I wander in April

Cold, grey-headed; and still to my

Heart, Spring comes with a bound, Spring the deliverer,

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Words to Use When You’re Upset at Work

If work conflicts stress you out, you may be tempted to express your frustration with a few expletives. According to CareerBuilder.com, more than 80% of workers believe that “the use of curse words brings the employee’s professionalism into question.” What might this mean for you? If you are the employee, you could damage your chances of a promotion and seem less than mature in the eyes of your coworkers.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Not-So-Sweet 16: Emoji Overload vs. The One-Word Line

Welcome to the Not-So-Sweet 16 round of March MADness! In our quest to find the most annoying work pet peeve, we’ve had some real battles. Some were obvious choices, while others were more evenly matched. And now, we’re out to determine the winners of each of our “conferences:” chat, email, phone calls, and old-fashioned, in-person talking. Which horrible habit will reign supreme?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Where to Find The Answers to Your Grammar Questions

How the Grammar Girl Team Answers All Those Grammar Questions

Guest post by Ashley Dodge

English is a complex, complicated, and often confusing language. It seems as if everyone, at one time or another, needs help with grammar. As Grammar Girl’s assistant, I’m lucky enough to help people find the answers to their grammar questions sent in by e-mail, whether it’s how to remember “affect” or “effect,” or how to use the semicolon.

Friday, May 10, 2013

When someone makes a writing mistake, what do you do?

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.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

7 Intelligent Tips on How to Quit Your Job Properly

As life changes go, quitting a job ranks among the most exhilarating and terrifying. It’s a leap into the unknown, regardless of whether you’ve got a new position all lined up or you’re leaving to begin the hunt for new opportunities. Here are seven expert tips to take a little of the stress out of your transition and help you quit your job with class.

1Weigh the pros and cons.

Job stress can cause us to make impulsive decisions.

Monday, May 6, 2013

5 Famous Cats in Literature

Cats make frequent literary appearances as fascinating, thought-provoking, and sometimes sneaky characters. From early nursery rhymes to contemporary tales, cats are omnipresent stars and sidekicks. To celebrate Adopt-a-Cat month in June, here are five famous cats that feature prominently in some much-loved books.

The Cat in the Hat

One of the best-known title characters in children’s literature, readers can easily identify the Cat in the Hat by his elongated body, striped hat, and red bow tie.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Dragged or Drug—Which Is Correct?

The recognized and correct past tense form of the verb drag is dragged. Drug can still sometimes be heard, but only in certain dialects within the United States.

Sometimes, a group of people have a way of speaking that’s particular to them. It can be a phrase they’ve coined. It can be a bending of the generally accepted linguistic norms. It can be pronunciation, spelling, or grammar misinterpretations.

Not-So-Sweet 16 Game 8: Close Talkers vs. “Well, actually . . .”

March MADness has been long. It has been frustrating. It has reminded us all of those things we don’t like about our office-mates. But, take heart! We are one poll away from exiting the Not-So-Sweet 16 and choosing the Final (Infuriating) Four!

Our last poll of the Not-So-Sweet 16 is a doozy, pitting a classic Seinfeld gripe against the world’s most irritating interjection. Help us determine the fate of office rage by voting below.

Monday, April 29, 2013

How would you like to learn grammar?

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.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Grammar Basics: What Is Grammar Case?

Do you enjoy team sports? Some team positions carry special responsibilities. In hockey, the goalie’s job is to block the other team from scoring. In American football, the place holder steadies the football for the field goal kicker. If you imagine language as a team sport, you can think of grammatical cases as team positions. They tell you the special roles of pronouns. Only three cases are common in modern English—subjective, objective, and possessive.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Not-So-Sweet 16: Email Autonotification Hell vs. Should’ve Messaged

The Not-So-Sweet 16 rages on with this set of obnoxious inbox-stuffers. Which bothers you more, autonotification emails, or emails from coworkers who should have messaged you elsewhere? Honestly, we don’t love either.

Ready to vote to determine the next round of March MADness? We know we are!

Autonotification Email Hell

Autonotifications are sent automatically when someone updates a task, project, or chat.

Monday, April 22, 2013

How to Consistently Write Better and Faster

In this article, here’s what you’ll discover:

  • why distractions are more debilitating than you think (and what to do about them)
  • a simple four-step formula to dramatically improve your writing
  • how to crank out high-quality content in half the time by optimizing every step of the writing process from first draft to formatting
  • So let’s get started, shall we?

    Why distractions are more debilitating than you think (and what to do about it)

    Just how bad are distractions for your productivity?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Offence vs. Offense—What Is the Difference?

  • Offence and offense are both correct.
  • Offence is the spelling more commonly used outside of the United States.
  • Offense is the spelling more commonly used in the United States.

Offense is spelled differently based on where you, or your audience, are. But neither offense nor offence are wrong.

Offence vs. Offense—Which Is Correct?

In one sense, offense means an attack. But it also means an affront or insult.

This Is Why It’s Important to Track Your Writing Stats

Writing is like going to the gym—you’re excited for the end results, but it takes a lot of hard work to get there! You know daydreaming won’t get you the perfect beach bod or the next New York Times bestseller, so how do you reach your goals?

Just as tracking your fitness progress is a healthy way to stay focused and motivated to work out, tracking your writing stats is a fantastic way to take your writing to the next level!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Limericks: The Lowest Form of Poetry?

There is a well-known line, often attributed to Samuel Johnson, but preceded and followed by myriad others, that the pun is the lowest form of humor. If so, the limerick, a form of verse that depends on clever assonance and double entendre, is certainly the lowest form of poetry. In this post, we will shine a spotlight on the limerick, and see if the cockroaches scurry.

To the best of anyone’s knowledge, the limerick originated in England sometime before the fifteenth century.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Congradulations or Congratulations—Which Is Right?

  • Congratulations is correct.
  • Congradulations is a common misspelling.

When something important and meaningful happens to someone, it’s nice to acknowledge it. But before we do, we need to double-check our spelling.

Congradulations vs. Congratulations—Which Is Correct?

There’s just one way to spell it, and that’s congratulations, with a T. This word came into English from Latin, where it was formed by combining the prefix com-, meaning “with,” to the root gratulari, meaning “give thanks” or “show joy.”

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Why Grammar Still Matters in Today’s Digital Age

Guest post by Matt Banner

Today’s digital age has brought back the craft of writing, but at a cost. With the rising popularity of hashtags, tweets, emoticons, and shorthand phrases like the ever-present “LOL,” it seems like good grammar has gone out the window. At the end of the day, does grammar still matter in this digital age?

For the foreseeable future, the answer is yes. While you can’t take ten steps on the Internet these days without running into a typo-ridden blog post or a social media post that looks like Freddy Krueger took his clawed hands to the language, there’s still a place for those who hold grammar in high regard.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Scrabble Champion?

April 13 is National Scrabble Day! How can a board game become so popular that it actually has its own holiday? Those who have played Scrabble know that it’s an addictive, brain-busting game that delights word nerds and language lovers. There’s even an annual US National Scrabble Championship and World Scrabble Championship!

Conrad Bassett-Bouchard, last year’s winner of the National Scrabble Championship, won $10,000 after beating a five-time champion.

Monday, April 8, 2013

What Is a Coordinating Conjunction?

A coordinating conjunction is a word that joins two elements of equal grammatical rank and syntactic importance. They can join two verbs, two nouns, two adjectives, two phrases, or two independent clauses. The seven coordinating conjunctions are for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so.

Meet the Key Players: FANBOYS

The best way to remember the seven coordinating conjunctions is by using the acronym FANBOYS:

Thursday, April 4, 2013

3 Charles Dickens Characters You Don’t Want to Meet

The great English writer Charles Dickens is known for his well-crafted characters. While some of the characters we meet in Dickens’ novels are endearing heroes, others are sinister villains. Here are three Dickens characters you would never want to meet.

Bill Sikes in Oliver Twist A career criminal, violent abuser, and murderer, Bill Sikes is at the top of the list of characters to avoid.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

5 Best Children’s Books of All Time

Every child grows up with a certain book that resonates with him or her, but there are some books that have a reached a level of such popularity that they become staples in the childhoods of people everywhere. Reading is an important experience as a kid; it fuels the imagination and implants moral suggestions for how to deal with the world from a young age. That makes children’s books powerfully suggestive and entirely important in the life of a child.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

8 Ways to Show Gratitude at Work

As published in Glamour magazine, a little thankfulness can make you more successful at work. How so? The article reports that a study by the email scheduling app Boomerang identified three email sign-offs that result in the best response rates—thanks in advance, thanks, and thank you. If a simple email signature has such a profound effect, just think of what you can achieve with a genuine act of appreciation!

Monday, April 1, 2013

“Dear Sir or Madam”—Learn When to Use It and Some Alternatives

How do you know when to use Dear Sir or Madam or something else? When writing a business letter or email, it can be a real challenge to get the salutation right—especially for someone you don’t know or an organization you’ve never worked with. In such situations, you should err on the side of formality, but even then there are good reasons to avoid Dear Sir or Madam. Luckily, there are a number of alternatives for Dear Sir or Madam that will help you remain professional.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Which TV Boss Do You Work For?

There are many types of bosses, from serious, commanding types like Claire Underwood to fun, friendly types like Michael Scott. Find out which famous TV boss is your manager’s personality twin!

Did we get it right? Which TV boss do you work for? Share your stories in the comments.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Remember When? 6 Grammar Rules From the Past

Merriam-Webster defines grammar quite simply as the set of rules explaining how we use words in the English language. And as language itself has evolved over time, so have the rules of grammar. Given the speed with which written communication has adapted to life in the Internet era, even the strictest style mavens understand that some grammar conventions may no longer apply. Here are some grammar rules today’s writers can usually safely ignore.

What Is a Subordinating Conjunction?

A subordinating conjunction is a word or phrase that links a dependent clause to an independent clause. This word or phrase indicates that a clause has informative value to add to the sentence’s main idea, signaling a cause-and-effect relationship or a shift in time and place between the two clauses.

Sound complicated? Let’s break it down.

A dependent clause, also known as a subordinate clause, is a clause with two specific qualities.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Not-So-Sweet 16 Game 6: Total Tardiness vs. The Interrupter

It’s better late than . . . wait, wait, wait. See how annoying that was?

Delaying meetings because of careless tardiness is never fun, but interrupting your coworkers is likely to make you pretty unpopular as well. But which is the most frustrating? Vote below, and leave your stories of rudeness in the comments.

Total Tardiness

Having to stall a meeting or punt other tasks because you’re waiting on another person is the pits.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Funny Phrases: The Hair of the Dog

The morning after a long night out, a friend might recommend you start your day with ‘the hair of the dog.’ No, she doesn’t want you to rub your face up against her pet golden retriever. According to dictionary.com, to offer someone ‘the hair of the dog’ is to recommend that they consume a small amount of whatever caused their ailment. If you drank a lot of alcohol last night and you’re feeling hungover, the ‘hair of the dog’ might be something like a bloody mary or mimosa—a drink that has a little alcohol in it.

5 Creative Ways to Celebrate Mother’s Day

“It’s not how much we give,” said Mother Teresa, “but how much love we put into giving.” This statement is liberating and beautiful, but it sets a high standard on Mother’s Day. Buying Mom a blouse at the mall might be convenient, but creating a heartfelt gift with your own hands means more.

Mother’s Day is May 10. Check out these five creative ways to help Mom understand just what she means on her special day.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Why Do We Call April 1 April Fools’ Day?

A day for fools? People around the world, and especially in North America and Europe, celebrate April 1 by playing practical jokes and trying to convince each other of outlandish false stories. But how did these customs evolve and why on the first day of April?

To answer that, we have to journey back in time to the reign of Constantine, a Roman emperor in the fourth century. The rulers of that period entertained themselves and their guests with “fools,” court jesters proficient in music, storytelling, acrobatics, or other skills.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Stop Confusing These Words: Immigrate and Emigrate

The difference between these two words is all about coming and going. When you immigrate, you’re coming to a new country. When you emigrate, you’re leaving your home country.

Immigrate: to move into a country from another one to stay permanently.

My ancestors immigrated to the United States sometime in the 1800s.

Emigrate: to leave the country in which one lives, especially one’s native country, to reside elsewhere.

Past Perfect Tense

The past perfect, also called the pluperfect, is a verb tense used to talk about actions that were completed before some point in the past.

We were shocked to discover that someone had graffitied “Tootles was here” on our front door. We were relieved that Tootles had used washable paint.

The past perfect tense is for talking about something that happened before something else.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Brand Imposters: 7 Funniest Misspelled Product Knock-Offs

One of the best things about language is its malleability. You can switch around a few letters, relocate a comma, or replace a pronoun, and you’ve suddenly changed the meaning of a sentence. The same principle applies to product logos. A small change can make a big — and hilarious — difference. Here is a short list of some side-splittingly funny product knock-offs from around the world.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Robots and English

There’s a harsh reality we need to face—a robotic, AI-driven Shakespeare is nowhere in sight. No robot will write verse that influences English the way Bard’s did anytime soon. You won’t find an AI spitting rhymes like Rakim or Nas, either.

But if your standards aren’t too high, there is some AI-constructed poetry you can read today. Take an AI that uses the recurrent neural network language model technique, feed it thousands of romantic novels to learn language from, give it a starting sentence and an ending sentence, instruct it to fill the gap between them, and you’ll get something like this:

Commas with Interrupters

Interrupters are little thoughts in the middle of a thought, added to show emotion, tone or emphasis. When we use an interrupter in the middle of a sentence, it should be emphasized with commas. This is because without the use of commas, the flow of the sentence may be awkward for the reader.

Interrupters are easily identified by saying the sentence out loud; you’ll naturally pause where the commas should be.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

What is the Subjunctive Mood?

In most cases, the subjunctive form of a verb is usually the third-person form of the verb with the ‑s dropped, but the verb to be is a special case. The subjunctive is used after certain expressions that contain an order or a request, a hypothetical, or a wish.

It Is Recommended That…

Here’s an example of the subjunctive mood in action:

It is recommended that she prepare a short speech before the ceremony.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Why “the Internet” Shouldn’t Be Stripped of Its Proper Noun Status

Breaking news! Read all about it—The Associated Press, one of the most widely followed authorities on written style, has lowercased the word “internet” in their 2016 style guide.

Starting today, AP uses lowercase internet and web in all instances. #APStyleChat

The decision has sparked much debate in the editorial and technology industries and beyond, but this isn’t the first time that an AP Stylebook change has caused some ripples . . .

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Our Favorite Words in the English Language

Whether you are a logophile (word lover) or not, you probably can think of one or two words that you really enjoy using. These words don’t have to be rare or exotic. In fact, sometimes it’s far better if they aren’t. Some of my personal favorites are demure, frank, and stalwart. Why are they my favorites? Well, besides being fun to say, they are concrete and clear.

I’ve decided to run a poll on our Facebook page seeking out the top five favorite words in the English language.

6 Ways to Celebrate Tell a Fairy Tale Day

Every year on February 26th, Tell a Fairy Tale Day celebrates the art of storytelling. Though you may not read traditional fairy tales very often any more, chances are that many of the story threads throughout your favorite books and movies have their roots in fairy tales. Here are six ways to have fun with storytelling on Tell a Fairy Tale Day.

Take a Trip to Your Local Library

Friday, February 22, 2013

Check Your Answers for Grammar Skills Test—Starter

So, you want to know what your English grammar level is? You’ve come to the right place. This post will cover the answers and additional learning resources for “Grammar Skills Test—Starter.” The Starter test covers Question formation, verb tense, prepositions, subject-verb agreement, and word order.

Correct answers are highlighted. Links go to additional learning resources to help you continue improving.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Spelling Words With EI and IE: “I Before E Except After C” Rule

I Before E, Except After C

Have you ever memorized the chorus of a song? You may sing a few lines over and over, but you can’t remember what comes after the section you know. Many people recite the mnemonic “I before E, except after C.” They either don’t remember or never learned the rest of the rhyme. Here are two additional lines that reveal some exceptions to the spelling rule:

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

5 Tips On How to Choose Your Blog Name

Guest post by Yohana Petrovic

So, you’ve decided to start your own blog! But before you can start writing and engaging with your readers, there is one hurdle that you have to jump: giving your blog a name. Choosing the best title for your blog is a very tricky thing.

Your blog’s name is its first claim to fame. As a starting blogger, your blog’s name is the make-or-break, the read or no-read, the click or no-click.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What’s Your Grammar Level and How Can You Improve?

Test your grammar with our linguist-developed quiz series.

If you’re not sure where to start, try the beginning!

Grammar Skills Test: Starter

Grammar Skills Test: Intermediate

Grammar Skills Test: Master

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Why Self-Publish Instead of Using a Conventional Publisher

Guest Post by Richard McMunn from How2become.com

The world of book publishing has evolved over the past few decades so much so that a publishing expert 20 years ago would struggle to get an entry level job in today’s market with their skill set from that time. There are varying opinions in the industry on some pivotal elements but one thing is certain, the accessibility for individuals to self-publish is more open and transparent than it has ever been.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

6 Wonderful Tips on How to Catch Up on Emails After a Vacation

Inbox dread is real.

The last time I took a vacation, I almost didn’t want to leave for fear of what my inbox would look like when I got back. (Hint: it wasn’t pretty.) There’s nothing more groan-inducing on your first day back at work than opening your email client to see you have 1,487 emails waiting.

I’ve worked in jobs where getting a flurry of daily email was the norm, which meant that being away for a week resulted in a digital avalanche.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

How to Silence Your Internal Editor

I just wrote this sentence three times—twice to change the direction of my opening monologue, and once to fix some structural errors. I did all that picking and all those rewrites before I even wrote another sentence. It took me about five minutes.

Why did I fiddle so long with one sentence? I have a hard time getting my internal editor to quiet down, so I developed the habit of self-editing as I write.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Into or In To—How Do I Use Them?

A common error is to confuse into, spelled as one word, with the two words in to. When deciding which is right for your sentence, remember that into is a preposition that shows what something is within or inside. As separate words, in and to sometimes simply wind up next to each other.

A preposition is a word that shows a relationship, usually in terms of space or time, between words in a clause or phrase.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Simple Past Tense–Grammar Rules

The simple past is a verb tense that is used to talk about things that happened or existed before now. Imagine someone asks what your brother Wolfgang did while he was in town last weekend.

Wolfgang entered a hula hoop contest.
He won the silver medal.

The simple past tense shows that you are talking about something that has already happened. Unlike the past continuous tense, which is used to talk about past events that happened over a period of time, the simple past tense emphasizes that the action is finished.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

8 Things We Can All Learn From Elizabeth Kolbert

If you’re looking for an inspiring female author from whose work you might glean a few writerly pointers, you needn’t search far. Whether you’re a hardcore fiction buff or always hungry for a fresh memoir, the world of words is suffering no shortage of brilliant women.

Recent fiction luminaires include Hanya Yanagihara—a longtime writer by trade but a relative newcomer to the realm of novels.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Conditional Sentences—Rules You Need to Know

  • There are four types of conditional sentences.
  • It’s important to use the correct structure for each of these different conditional sentences because they express varying meanings.
  • Pay attention to verb tense when using different conditional modes.
  • Use a comma after the if-clause when the if-clause precedes the main clause.

Conditional sentences are statements discussing known factors or hypothetical situations and their consequences.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

What’s the Problem with Passive Voice?

If you’re a grammar nerd, chances are you have an opinion about the passive voice. Whether you think it’s acceptable or should be completely avoided, it’s important to understand what passive voice is and how it’s used.

Passive voice occurs when the object of the action in the sentence becomes the subject of the sentence. The opposite of passive voice is active voice, in which the subject simply performs the action.

How Do You Spell Donut?

Donut is an alternate spelling of doughnut. Some dictionaries point out that donut is rarely used outside the United States. All of them recognize doughnut as the main spelling, as do some of the more popular style guides. Doughnut might be the spelling you should use if you want to be sure you’re not making a mistake.

Doughnuts: the thing no stereotypical law enforcement officer can be seen without.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

BRB, I’m learning these grammar rules for texting!

Post written by Hadiyah Dache

Keeping up with grammar rules when you’re texting and tweeting can be difficult. We get it—your characters are limited and you’ve got to keep things brief—but the challenge with typing in shorthand is the risk of getting things lost in translation (and autocorrect misinterpreting what you’re trying to say entirely). Communicating a clear message through texts and tweets can be even trickier now that emoji use is replacing words altogether.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Comma Between Subject and Verb

With few exceptions, a comma should not separate a subject from its verb.

My friend Cleo, is a wonderful singer.

Writers are often tempted to insert a comma between a subject and verb this way because speakers sometimes pause at that point in a sentence. But in writing, the comma only makes the sentence seem stilted.

My friend Cleo is a wonderful singer.

Be especially careful with long or complex subjects:

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Stay Away From These 5 Cliché Endings

Writing a book is difficult, but trying to pick an ending that is both impactful and wraps the plot up beautifully is even more difficult. Beginning your book is important, but ending it can be equally so. Relying on clichés won’t get the job done. As an author, you’ll only leave your readers feeling disappointed and dissatisfied.

Make sure to stay away from these five cliché endings:

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

6 Plagiarism Gaffes That Will Make You Gasp

With the revelation of Melania Trump’s alleged plagiarism of a 2008 Michelle Obama speech, plagiarism is suddenly front-page news. Although this may be the most talked-about instance of plagiarism at the moment, it’s far from the first. Plagiarism has existed as long as intellectual property has, and there have been numerous public figures accused of this academic transgression, including the United States’ current president and vice president.

Monday, January 21, 2013

What Is the Difference Between Acknowledgement and Acknowledgment?

This post acknowledges the pesky spelling of acknowledg(e)ment. If the verb ends in -e, where does that letter go when you add the -ment?

For the most part, folks in the United States or Canada will ditch the E, while people outside North America tend to keep it. But that’s far from a hard-and-fast rule, so chances are you’ll see both spellings regardless of where you’re reading.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Why You NEED to Write Every Day

Alzheimer’s, dementia, and severe memory loss affect memory, thinking, language, and behavior—even beyond expected decreases in function from the typical aging process. But according to a recent study by the Medical Journal of the American Academy of Neurology, there are some strategies to help you avoid this type of cognitive decline that you can begin working on now. First and foremost: Be a bookworm!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Concrete Nouns vs. Abstract Nouns

All nouns fall into one of two categories: concrete nouns and abstract nouns.

What Is a Concrete Noun?

A concrete noun is a noun that can be identified through one of the five senses (taste, touch, sight, hearing, or smell). Consider the examples below:

Would someone please answer the phone?

In the sentence above, the noun phone is a concrete noun: you can touch it, see it, hear it, and maybe even smell it or taste it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

5 Children’s Books You Should Read As an Adult

Many of us have special memories of books that changed our worlds as children. I’ll never forget snuggling up next to my dad while he read a section of C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia to my brother and me each night before bed. Here are five books and series for kids that we recommend re-reading as an adult:

The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder Based on Wilder’s experiences growing up on the American frontier, the Little House series paints an intimate portrait of an exciting time in American history.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Should I Use Will or Would in an If-Clause?

Many writers wonder if it’s equally correct to use “will” or “would” in an if-clause. The short answer is no, but there are exceptions to the rule. An if- or when-clause (often used to form conditional sentences) generally does not contain “will,” which is the simple future tense of the verb “to be.” One exception is when the action in the if- or when-clause takes place after that in the main clause.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Primary Differences Among Major International English Dialects

The British Empire hasn’t been in existence for almost three-quarters of a century. At the peak of its might, it covered close to a quarter of the world’s land area and ruled a fifth of its population. But the empire changed, transformed, and passed as all things pass. When the territories Britain had conquered gained freedom, there was one thing that remained as evidence of how grand the empire once was—the English language.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

7 Easy Phone Interview Tips That Will Help You Get The Job

The job hunting process can be long and stressful. You’ve crafted the perfect resume, sent out countless cover letters, and now you’ve finally heard back that you’ve got a phone interview. This should be a walk in the park, right? An obligatory step to confirm you’re a real human.

Until you find yourself on the phone with the interviewer and they’re not just chatting you up. They’re asking you real questions, some of them tough questions, and your throat is going dry and you’re talking a million miles a minute and then it’s all over and you’re wondering what just happened.