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 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.