Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Correcting People’s Grammar: Just Don’t Do It

As grammar nerds, we care a lot about correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation. If you’re a grammar lover, maybe you’ve found yourself fighting the urge to correct a misspelled menu item at a restaurant. Perhaps you’ve even corrected a “who” to a “whom” when your friend used the wrong word in a story.

When it comes to grammar correction and education, where is the line between agitating and helping?

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Basics of Good Proofreading

After you finish writing something, do you read it over? Hopefully yes, but reading is not proofreading. The process of reading for enjoyment or information is significantly different from the process of proofreading. How so? To proofread is to examine a document with the express purpose of finding and correcting errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Let’s compare and contrast reading and proofreading.

Monday, December 29, 2014

6 Notable People Who Experienced Imposter Syndrome

An imposter is a fraud, someone who pretends to be something they aren’t. Often, their motive is to steal or take advantage of others. However, some people who feel like imposters aren’t guilty of any crime. They haven’t intentionally misled anyone.

According to psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes, imposter syndrome affects many high-achieving individuals. You’ll be surprised at how many successful people don’t feel they deserve the praise they receive.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Do you use tools to write better emails?

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

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Most Common GrammoWriMo Mistakes

In November, Grammarly worked with ~300 writers from 27 countries (and 44 U.S. states) to write a group novel for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). We called the project #GrammoWriMo; and, clocking in at a total of 130,927 unedited words, we are proud to say that our draft was among the 41,940 completed! The infographic below shows which mistakes were the most common in our writers’ first drafts.

Monday, December 22, 2014

10 Words Brits Use That Americans No Longer Do

A quick example of the bleeding obvious: people speak differently in the UK and the US. If you’re an American fan of British TV shows—the originals, not the American remakes—you’re probably very aware that once in a while, the characters will utter a word that you won’t hear on the streets of your hometown.

But you may be surprised to know that some of the words we consider distinctly British today were once fairly common in the United States.

Friday, December 19, 2014

10 Habits Today’s Writers Share

Whether you realize it or not, you’re a writer.

It’s hard not to be one in the information age, when writing is essential, if not inescapable. Maybe you’re keeping up with old friends and upcoming assignments. Or perhaps you’re trying to impress a hiring committee or a hot date. We’re constantly dashing off notes and status updates with a regularity that would’ve been the envy of anyone in the era of telegrams and typewriters, let alone the cloistered monks who hand-copied ancient scrolls by candlelight.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

This Is Why You Should Check Your Email in the Morning

Do not check your email! Plenty of people with fancy credentials will tell you to avoid your email at all costs in the morning. Time management consultant Julie Morgenstern wrote a whole book about it. She told The Huffington Post that if you give in to the temptation, “you will never recover.” Personal development writer Sid Savara gives seven reasons not to check it. For starters, the requests in your email aren’t on your agenda of “things to do” yet.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Not-So-Sweet 16: Early-Morning Chatters vs. Giant Group Chat

The Not-So-Sweet 16 round of March MADness has begun! So far, we’ve started the voting for work chat pet peeves, and these two contenders are both pretty atrocious. Which habit annoys you more? Vote below!

Early-Morning Chatters

These folks are up in the wee small hours of the morning, sending out updates to group chats—either pinging you awake as you catch your last few hours of sleep or inundating your mornings with messages to attend to.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Commas in Dates

When writing a date, a comma is used to separate the day from the month, and the date from the year.

July 4, 1776, was an important day in American history.

I was born on Sunday, May 12, 1968.

But if you’re writing the date in day-month-year format, you don’t need a comma.

The project will commence on 1 June 2018.

Do use a comma if you’re including a day of the week with the date.

Friday, December 12, 2014

5 Essays Every Student Needs to Know How to Write

An essay is a brief composition on a specific topic. The most common essay types are analytical, argumentative, critical, expository, and narrative.

Students write essays. You knew that already. But do you know what kinds of essays students write? Here are the basics of how to write five different types of essays.

Analytical Essays

To analyze means to examine carefully or critically.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

How to Write Dates Correctly in English

If writing dates has you stymied at times, it is probably for one of two reasons. The first is that date formats vary the world over, and we come across these different styles frequently in our reading. The second may be that you aren’t quite sure how to write dates with commas.

The key to overcoming your struggle with dates is to understand the prevailing conventions and then apply them clearly—and consistently.

Monday, December 8, 2014

This Is How to Properly Introduce Yourself in an Email

Meeting someone in person is pretty straightforward. You smile, shake their hand, tell them your name. But what if you’re not meeting face to face? What if you’re introducing yourself via email?

Maybe you’re reaching out to create a new connection, to ask for advice, or a collaboration, or a job. How do you compete with the other 700 emails in their inbox and convince them a response to you is worthwhile?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Naughty or Nice Grammar Quiz

To share this quiz with your readers, embed this in your blog post by pasting the following HTML snippet into your web editor:

Please attribute this content to

Thursday, December 4, 2014

“Which Celebrity Writer Is Just Like You?” Quiz

When it comes to writing and celebrity, most people assume all celebrities use ghostwriters. These stars—among others—prove that point wrong. We’ve analyzed a list of talented celebrities and built a quiz to help you find out which celebrity writer is just like you.

What do you think? Did we get it right? Share your reactions in the comments.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

300 Published Authors, One Great Novel

In November, Grammarly worked with around 300 writers from 27 countries (and 44 U.S. states) to write a group novel for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). We called the project #GrammoWriMo; and, clocking in at a total of 130,927 unedited words, we are proud to say that our draft was among the 41,940 completed!

We kicked off the editing process right away by running the text of the novel through our automated proofreader to check for spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Bear minimum vs. bare minimum

ESL TIP: This play on words intentionally misspells the phrase “bare minimum” as “bear minimum,” which, from the picture of this bear, looks to be quite relaxing.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Six Bookish Songs to Spread Holiday Cheer

Merry LitMas!

Just kidding, we’re only on the sixth day of LitMas, so we haven’t finished giving you gifts of well-read knowledge yet. Today, we’re departing from booklists and reading tips for something you can tap your toes to. That’s right, we’ve created a playlist of tunes inspired by famous works of literature. And we have to admit, we love the creativity behind all of these bookish songs.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Minuscule or Miniscule?

  • Minuscule means very small.
  • Miniscule is a newer spelling, probably derived from the prefix mini-.
  • Many feel that miniscule is a misspelling, but it occurs so frequently that it appears as a variant spelling in some dictionaries.

When talking about things that are small, people use the word mini. For example, a small, short skirt is a miniskirt. A minirecession is a recession with a lesser impact than a full recession.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Past Continuous Tense

The past continuous tense, also known as the past progressive tense, refers to a continuing action or state that was happening at some point in the past. The past continuous tense is formed by combining the past tense of to be (i.e., was/were) with the verb’s present participle (-ing word).

There are many situations in which this verb tense might be used in a sentence. For example, it is often used to describe conditions that existed in the past.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

13 Kinds of Grammar Trolls We Love to Hate

How many different rules of grammar and punctuation exist? For every rule, there exists a person eager to publicly expose any rulebreakers. These vigilante defenders of grammatical order are grammar trolls. Here are thirteen types to watch out for.

The Fish Throwers

In the world of writing, a red herring doesn’t refer to a fish. Instead, it’s misleading or distracting information.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Talk to vs. Talk with–Which Should I Use?

  • Talk to and talk with both mean to converse with someone.
  • In almost all cases, talk to and talk with can be used interchangeably.

If you are having a conversation, are you talking to or talking with someone? Is talking to someone different from talking with someone? Let’s settle the issue.

When to use Talk To

Some feel that talk to should be used only for one-sided conversations—when a television host addresses the viewers, perhaps, or when a boss reprimands an employee.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Nowadays or Now a Days?

  • Nowadays is the only correct spelling of this word.
  • Spelling the word as three words—now a days—is incorrect.

Nowadays means “at the present time.” It’s easy to use, but the spelling gives some people trouble.

How to Spell Nowadays

There’s only one way to spell nowadays—as one word. Even though this adverb evolved from the Middle English now adays, spelling it as more than one word today is a mistake.

Why Grammar Matters in Your Content Marketing

If you’re trying to market your brand or sell a product, a grammatical mistake or typo can hold you back from success. Find out how it can hinder you (with funny pictures for proof), why it matters, and what you can do to ensure clean copy.

What do typos do to your messaging?

A few spelling and grammatical errors won’t necessarily prevent people from buying your product. But a writing mistake, even a forgotten letter, can contradict what you’re trying to prove to your customers.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Tell us what you think about traditional language rules.

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.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

How to Accept a Job Offer (Examples and Tips You Should See)

Accepting a job offer isn’t as simple as saying, “I’ll take it! When do I start?” It’s important to make sure you and your employer have covered all the bases and there’s no confusion. It’s best to accept a job offer with a letter of acceptance.

What to Look for in a Job Offer

Prior to the official offer, you may take part in a brief little dance (sometimes called a supposal) where your potential employer says something like, “Suppose we want to offer you a position.

Monday, November 10, 2014

How to Show Your Writing Chops on a Resume

If you’re a good writer, never miss a chance to show off your writing skills. Think of your resume as an opportunity to tell the story of your candidacy. Why are you the right person for the job? How did you develop your skills? Why will you benefit the company? Let’s talk about how you can reflect your writing skills on your resume and how these talents can land you your dream job.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Principle vs. Principal

  • A principle is a rule, a law, a guideline, or a fact.
  • A principal is the headmaster of a school or a person who’s in charge of certain things in a company.
  • Principal is also an adjective that means original, first, or most important.

Words with shared roots often end up with similar meanings in modern use. Principle and principal are two such words. Both of them entered English through Old French.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

How do spelling and grammar affect news credibility?

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.

3 Young Adult Series You Should Read before You See the Movies

We’ve all heard it before: The movie was great, but the book was so much better. No matter which version of the story you prefer, the great thing about book-to-movie adaptations is that you can enjoy the story twice: once on the page and again on the screen. Here are three young adult series we recommend you read before you see their on-screen counterparts:

The Divergent series by Veronica Roth

In the film version of Divergent, the first book in the trilogy by Veronica Roth, Shailene Woodley does a wonderful job of conveying protagonist Tris Prior’s determination and bravery as the world around her changes into something she barely recognizes.

Monday, November 3, 2014

5 Tips for Editing Your Own Work

No matter what type of writing you do, it can be easy to miss your own mistakes in the editing process. Since you wrote the words, you often read what you intended to write (and not what is actually written). You can’t see any flaws in your writing because you’re just too close to it.

Use these five tips to edit your own work more effectively — and to improve your writing.

1. Let Your Writing Rest for a Few Hours or Days

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Is textspeak a second language?

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.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Double Negatives: 3 Rules You Must Know

You probably have been told more than once that double negatives are wrong and that you shouldn’t use them. However, usually, it’s left at that — without any explanation of what exactly a double negative is or why it’s considered incorrect (in standard English). We want to fix that. Here is the essential list of things you must understand about double negatives.

1 In standard English, each subject-predicate construction should only have one negative form.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Between vs. Among—What’s the Difference?

  • Use between when referring to one-to-one relationships.
  • Use among when referring to indistinct or nonspecific relationships.

We already touched on the difference between between and among when we talked about the difference between among and amongst. But let’s take a closer look at these two commonly confused words. We might even dispel a grammar myth in the process.

When to Use Between

There’s a common and oddly persistent belief that between should be used only when there are two elements, and among should be used when there are more than two elements.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Emigrate vs. Immigrate–What’s the Difference?

  • Emigrate means to leave one location, such as one’s native country or region, to live in another.
  • Immigrate means to move into a non-native country or region to live.
  • Associate the I of immigrate with “in” to remember that the word means moving into a new country.

Is emigrate an alternative spelling of immigrate? If not, what’s the difference between immigrate and emigrate?

The Meaning of Emigrate

Emigrate is not an alternative spelling of immigrate.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Capital vs. Capitol

  • Capital can be a noun or an adjective. Capital can refer to uppercase letters, accumulated wealth, or the city that serves as the seat of a country’s or state’s government.
  • A capitol is a building in which the legislative body of government meets.
  • In the United States, the Capitol is a building in Washington in which the US Congress meets.
  • Capitol Hill is a metonym for the US Congress, but also a neighborhood in Washington DC.

Monday, October 20, 2014

These Books Will Help You Truly Relax on Vacation

“An adventure awaits,” “an escape from the ordinary”— travel ads often promise journeyers a chance to leave the ennui of their normal lives. But did you know that you don’t have to board a plane reach an exotic, remote location? In escapist literature, writers create a rich, absorbing environment for their characters. Readers live vicariously in a captivating alternative reality. While the characters in the novel run for their lives or fall head over heels in love, the readers unwind and enjoy the experience from the safety of the real world.

Friday, October 17, 2014

What Novel Are You? The Quiz

If you were a novel written during a special month, what novel would you be? Take this quiz and find out which classic novel corresponds with your personality!

In the quiz, you will be presented with multiple-choice questions. There are no right or wrong answers. Just choose the answer that most closely matches how you feel or what you think. Have fun!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

“Are You the Jedi Master or the Sith Lord of Your Office?” Quiz

There is a light and dark side to the balance of office life. Which way do you lean? Find out whether you’re an Office Jedi or Sith with our fun quiz!

What do you think, did we get it right? Share your reactions in the comments.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

How to Write Nowhere, Somewhere, and Anywhere?

There’s only one way to write nowhere, somewhere, and anywhere, and that is as one word. If you write them as no where, some where, and any where, you’re making a mistake.

He was no where to be found.
Tony tried to build his own business, but it went nowhere.

More Examples

Some where over the rainbow there’s candy waiting for you.
He lost his key somewhere on his route home.

Monday, October 13, 2014

How to Stay Focused on All Your Tasks

We’ve all found ourselves distracted from things we should be doing. A 2014 study found that a whopping 87 percent of high school and college students are self-professed procrastinators. Odds are good that you’ve found yourself distracted when you know you should be focused on a task. Is there a cure? Let’s take a look at how to avoid the pitfalls of common distractions.

When the Internet Interferes with Your Productivity

Distractions are everywhere, and the Internet doesn’t help.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

3 Cool Ways English Evolved in 2015

It’s hard to keep up with a language evolving as fast as English. Before you know it, a new turn of phrase has come and gone before you can say selfie. That’s so passé. Do try to keep up. Let’s have a look at some trends from 2015.

1 Portmanteaus, or word mashups

It’s been climbing the charts for a few years now, but in 2015, the portmanteau officially arrived. Portmanteaus are nothing new, but lately they’re “spiviralling” out of control.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Our GrammoWrimo Group Novel Is for Sale on Amazon!

When everything is about to change, the air becomes still. The sky turns a nondescript color of gray and people throw themselves into normalcy with a sense of purpose usually reserved for special occasions. They’ll walk through town and wave brightly to familiar faces, laugh a little too loudly, and buy a loaf of bread for dinner. All the while, they’ll readjust protective amulets and spend an extra minute in front of a household lararium, understanding that their reality will soon shift ever-so-slightly from its axis and life will never be the same again.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

5 Ways to Stop Having a Bad Day

Your alarm fails to go off and you wake up twenty minutes late. You take a hasty shower, and for some reason the water temperature will only fluctuate between tepid and truly frigid. Despite those setbacks, you manage to grab a cup of coffee for the ride in, which you promptly spill down the front of your shirt. Then, when you arrive at the office you learn that your partner on a critical project has called in sick.

Friday, October 3, 2014

10 Words and Phrases to Never, Ever Use at Work

Every industry has its jargon. But some words and phrases can be unclear, unnecessary, or even offensive. Maybe some of these are phrases you like building into your business vocab, but use them with caution. If you’re going to offend or annoy someone, or if there’s a clearer way to say something, why not go the easy way?

Our little caveat: every office has different protocol. If you’re buddies with your coworkers, it’s not so strange to talk to them about personal issues.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Cannot vs. Can Not vs. Can’t—What’s the Difference?

Can’t? Cannot? Can not? Find out the right way to use all three.

Can’t is a contraction of cannot, and as such it’s sometimes unsuitable for formal writing. In everyday writing and in speaking, it’s ubiquitous:

I can’t go out until I proofread my paper.

Peter can’t believe what’s happening in front of his eyes.

Cannot is better for formal writing:

I cannot wait until Friday to get the report.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Monday Motivation Hack: Manage Your Morning

If you win the morning, you win the day.

Mornings set the tone for your day. If your habits are bad or simply uninspiring, they’ll steamroll your productivity and focus for the whole day. This week, we looked at what a range of successful people do in the morning. Groups included up-and-coming millennials, productivity hackers, and various kinds of leaders. Here’s a sampling of what they had in common.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Present Perfect Tense

The present perfect tense refers to an action or state that either occurred at an indefinite time in the past (e.g., we have talked before) or began in the past and continued to the present time (e.g., he has grown impatient over the last hour). This tense is formed by have/has + the past participle.

The construction of this verb tense is straightforward. The first element is have or has, depending on the subject the verb is conjugated with.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

10 (More) Words That English Needs

You can’t leave the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows after reading only ten entries, and you can’t spread the word about one of the best websites on the Internet in just one article. So here we go, ten more words from the great fictional dictionary describing feelings and sensations you’ll recognize as soon as you read their descriptions.

Ambedo is the melancholic, almost hypnotic state you get into when you focus on sensory details like the flickering of a candle or tall trees swaying in the wind and you start thinking about the frailty of life.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Looking to “Get Lucky” this Saint Patrick’s Day? These Idioms May Help

It’s Saint Patrick’s Day! Walk into any department or grocery store at this time of year, and you may find yourself surrounded by leprechaun hats, green shirts, rainbow banners, shamrock-shaped candy, and other Irish-themed paraphernalia. Embedded in these symbols of Irish tradition is the idea of luck (good, bad, and uncertain) and the language associated with luck.

With that, here are some luck-related idioms commonly used in the English language:

Monday, September 22, 2014

As Well As Comma

The phrase as well as creates one of those situations where you may have to make a judgment call about comma usage. As a general rule, you don’t need a comma before as well as.

As Well As

As well as means “in addition to.”

Please proofread for spelling mistakes as well as grammatical errors.

The sentence above means that you should proofread for both spelling and grammatical errors.

Friday, September 19, 2014

There Is vs. There Are: How to Choose?

  • The choice between the phrases there is and there are at the beginning of a sentence is determined by the noun that follows it.
  • Use there is when the noun is singular (“There is a cat”). Use there are when the noun is plural (“There are two cats”).

There Is vs. There Are

You probably know that the choice between is vs. are depends on a noun. In most sentences, the noun comes before the verb.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

How to Use “Complement”

Here’s a tip: A complement is related to completion, while a compliment relates to flattering words or acts.

Everybody loves a compliment. Or is it a complement they love? If there is a published list of commonly confused words, complement and compliment are almost certain to appear. However, these two terms don’t have to be on your personal list of befuddling vocabulary! Here’s the breakdown.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

8 Mistakes to Avoid on Your Return from Vacation

What follows a fantastic vacation? For many, it’s the post-vacation blues. What you might not realize is that small, correctable mistakes may be the cause of your slump. Let’s learn the eight most avoidable of these errors so you can return from your next vacation on a high note.

1 Staying Gone Too Long

How can you guarantee yourself a horrifically stressful Monday? Arrive home from vacation late Sunday night!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Here Are the Top 10 Writing Mistakes of 2016

Of the three billion or so people on Earth who enjoy web access, roughly half speak – and write – mainly in English. If they’re at all like a typical Grammarly user, they crank out around a thousand words each week, mainly in email, social media, blogs, and the like.

One other thing folks writing on the Internet do a good bit of is make mistakes. We routinely mangle proper spellings, savage the rules of punctuation, email sensitive details to the wrong person, and mix up words – say by referring to an ambidextrous baseball pitcher as “amphibious” while hurriedly dashing off a newspaper headline.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Would Have or Would of?

When spoken aloud, would of and its fellows should of and could of sound exactly like would’ve, could’ve and should’ve. But even if no one can tell the difference when you’re speaking, the mistake becomes obvious as soon as you write it down.

The Right Way to Spell Would of, Should of, and Could of

When people write would of, should of, could of, will of or might of, they are usually confusing the verb have with the preposition of.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Mistake of the Month—Unnecessary Modifiers

As Mark Twain once wrote, “Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very’; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”

Unnecessary modifiers make your writing weak and bloated, burying your message in a deluge of quites and rathers. These modifiers add no value to the sentences in which they appear. The first step to fixing the problem is identifying the filler words in your writing.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

How to Navigate Political Talk at Work

You’re at your desk, writing an email and minding your own business, when you overhear your officemates chatting nearby. They’re casually discussing climate change, a topic you’re passionate about. You could weigh in and drop some serious knowledge on them, but if you do, you’re likely to be engaged in a debate. Should you resist the urge or jump into the fray? It’s a tricky question.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Stop Making Contraction Mistakes Now. Here’s How.


Contractions. Everyone has messed up a contraction at one time or another. Sometimes these errors happen because a writer misunderstands the purpose of contractions, but most of the time they’re simply typos. Whatever the reason for your mistakes, we’ve got you covered.

If you don’t quite know the rules for contractions, you can brush up with our handbook.

If typos are your problem, try our free browser extension for help catching those keyboard slips (plus many other  types of writing errors).

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Which Grammar Rules Are Dying?

We all make mistakes. Sometimes, we even embrace them.

Such is the case with language. The words you’re reading right now are the product of centuries of slang, corruption, amalgamation, and lazy habits. The writers of today gently nudge future evolutions of English by choosing which mistakes will be acceptable tomorrow. (For instance, where you use verbs like “stung” and “stunk,” experts believe future writers may instead opt for “stinged” and “stinked.”)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Here’s the Real History of Mother’s Day

Did moms come up with Mother’s Day as an easy way to get pancakes in bed? Did activists fight for its adoption as a way to get folks to focus on peace? Or did card companies invent it as a way to make a few (billion) bucks?

If you answered all of the above, you’re right. Well, at least partially. Peace activists did play a role in early versions of Mother’s Day, and makers of cards and candy (not to mention florists) do get to rake in the rewards the second week of May every year.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Each and Every–What’s the difference?

Each vs. every is a common grammar issue, even for proficient writers, because let’s face it—they’re very similar words. Although both words refer to something that is singular, each refers to an individual object or person, while the term every refers to a group of objects or people lumped together as one. For example, consider the following sentences:

Every artist is sensitive.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Here’s How to Get out of Meetings with Grace

I once worked remotely for a company that had a regular content editor meeting every Friday. That meeting was the bane of my working existence. We’d all gather on a conference call line starting at 10 a.m. We’d arrive with good intentions, but inevitably no one had an agenda and we’d walk away (sometimes hours later) without having reached any actionable conclusions. The only thing anyone would act on would be to take a few minutes at the start of next week’s meeting to bemoan the lack of things we accomplished with the previous one.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

It’s vs. Its: How Should You Use Them?

When you’re in a hurry, you might write “it’s” when you really mean “its,” or the other way around. You need to be aware of this mistake and know when to use which.

It’s is a contraction of “it is” or “it has.” Its is a possessive determiner we use to say that something belongs to or refers to something.

It’s and its are among the most commonly confused words. They are pronounced the same, there’s a very small difference in how they’re written, and it’s also easy to mistake the contraction in it’s for a possessive.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

8 Weird Techniques to Beat Writer’s Block

You’ve already taken ten deep breaths, made coffee, gone on a walk, had a snooze, made more coffee, looked at colossal lists of inspiring ideas, and made another cup of coffee for good measure. It’s time to break out the big guns—er, pens.

Everyone has their way to push through mental blocks and get things done . . . but what are the weirdest strategies? Here are eight odd but useful ways to reset your brain.

Monday, August 25, 2014

All the Wondrous Ways We Express Wonder in English

As we get nearer to the end of December, we are reminded of why it’s called the most wonderful time of the year. It’s the season of holidays, with Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Mawlid usually celebrated within a month of one another. And then there’s the New Year, a great opportunity to commit ourselves to plans and resolutions we’ll never actually make good on. This time of year is a great opportunity to remind ourselves of some of the words we have at our disposal to express all the wonder that’s going on.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

4 Infuriating Work Habits and How to Avoid Them

Considering all the time you spend at the office, it’s no surprise that your workspace, coworkers, and overall approach to everyday tasks have a big influence on your morale. We’ve all been there: you’re chatting with colleagues and you get a little heavy-handed with the emojis, or you’ve got an update most of your team will enjoy so you pop it into the general chat. It seems innocuous enough, but as it turns out, these—and other—little tendencies can really get under others’ skin.

Whose vs. Who’s

Who’s is a contraction linking the words who is or who has, and whose is the possessive form of who. They may sound the same, but spelling them correctly can be tricky. To get into the difference between who’s and whose, read on.

Who’s vs. Whose

  • Both who’s and whose come from the pronoun who (shocking, right?).
  • Who’s is a contraction, meaning it’s two words stuck together. The formula: who + is, or who + has.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Comma Between Correlative Conjunction Sets

Correlative pairs of conjunctions include words like neither…nor, not…but, and both…and. For this punctuation rule, we can also consider sets of words like not only…but also. When pairs or sets of conjunctions are being used, they do not need to be separated from each other by a comma. However, a comma may be used between the conjunctions to accommodate another grammar rule (see Exceptions).

Friday, August 15, 2014

“Barking up the wrong tree” and Other Funny Idioms

Have you heard the expression “barking up the wrong tree?” According to North Carolina State University, there are 23,000 different kinds of trees. What type of tree is incorrect? Idioms can be puzzling, but perhaps less so when you learn more about the phrases. Let’s delve into six interesting idiomatic expressions.

Barking up the wrong tree

Hunters sometimes use scent hounds to locate and pursue animals.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Disinterested vs. Uninterested—Are They the Same?

  • Disinterested means “without a vested interest.”
  • Uninterested means “not showing interest.”

The words disinterested and uninterested are sometimes used as if they have the same meaning. But there is a difference, and to avoid confusion, you should be aware of what that difference is.

What Does Disinterested Mean?

When someone doesn’t have a vested interest in a matter, or doesn’t have a horse in that race, we can say that this person is disinterested.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

This Is How to Effectively Plan for Second Interview Questions

You’ve been invited to a second interview—well done! But don’t get too comfortable just yet. If you’ve been asked to interview a second time, you’re likely up against the company’s top few candidates. That means the stakes are higher than ever, and you need to prepare to give the interview all you’ve got.

Why Second Interviews Are So Important

Think of the first interview as the getting-to-know-you phase.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Grammar Snob App Allows You to Correct Your Friends’ Texts

If you’ve ever fantasized about wielding a red pencil that could correct grammatical mistakes in the text messages you receive, you’re in for a treat. There’s a new app on iTunes called Grammar Snob, and it gives you the ability to correct grammatical mistakes in texts. All you need to do is download it, wait until you receive a text message containing one of the mistakes covered by the app, place a corresponding sticker over the mistake, and hit send.

No-one, Noone, or No One—Which Is Right?

  • No one is right.
  • No-one is an uncommon variant form. It’s best to stick to the two-word version.
  • Noone is wrong.

Too many choices can sometimes confuse you, but with no one, it’s easy to learn which should be your go-to spelling.

No-one, Noone, or No One—Which Should I Use?

The correct way to spell no one is as two words, without the hyphen:

No one warned us about the incoming storm.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Bad vs. Badly—What’s the Difference?

Misusing bad and badly is a common grammatical mistake. The word bad is an adjective and should be used to modify nouns and pronouns. Badly, like most words ending in -ly, is an adverb and is used to modify verbs. The thing that trips most people up is that linking verbs such a to be and to feel take adjectives rather than adverbs.

Why do people use bad and badly incorrectly so often in their writing?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Continuously vs. Continually—What’s the Difference?

The adverbs continuously and continually (and their corresponding adjectives, continuous and continual) are words that are confused easily and often. Continuously describes an action that happens without ceasing. Continually, on the other hand, describes an action that recurs frequently or regularly.

The confusion about whether to use continually or continuously is understandable, because both words share the same Latin root, continuare, meaning “to join together or connect.” Only the endings of the words are different, and over time, the two words have evolved with subtly distinct meanings.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Celebrate Mom with Proper Punctuation!

Happy Mother’s Day! How are you celebrating? Breakfast in bed? A handmade card? For many people, an even bigger question than what to do for Mother’s Day is where to place the apostrophe in Mother’s Day.

Some people write “Mothers’ Day,” based on the logic that it is the day to celebrate all mothers. Others simply write “Mothers Day,” leaving out the apostrophe altogether, possibly because they’re unsure of where to place it.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Good vs. Well–How Should I Use Them?

A common English error is to misuse the words good and well. The rule of thumb is that good is an adjective and well is an adverb. Good modifies a noun; something can be or seem good. Well modifies a verb; an action can be done well. However, when you’re talking about health, well can be used as an adjective.

All you need to remember when you are pondering whether good or well is best for your sentence is that good modifies a person, place, or thing, whereas well modifies an action.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Know Your Homophones: Feint and Faint

Faint: Lacking strength; inclined to swoon; lacking in courage, spirit, or energy; lacking distinctness; hardly perceptible. For example: Due to the summer heat, she began to feel dizzy and faint. In the early morning hours, the sunlight is faint on the horizon. The music in the background was faint and hardly perceptible.

Feint: A movement made to confuse the opponent, a dummy; that which is feigned; an assumed or false appearance; an offensive movement resembling an attack in all but its continuance.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Fascinating New Languages

Despite all our smarts and scientific advancements, there is still a lot we don’t know about the phenomenon of human language. We don’t know what the first human language sounded like. We don’t know exactly where, how, or when it came to be. We may never be able to find out—there’s an overwhelming lack of data to work with. What we can say, however, is that once we figured out how to create language, we went ahead and created a bunch of them.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Say What?! Meet the Interrobang.

Few punctuation marks have as exciting a name as the interrobang. But what does the interrobang do?

The interrobang combines the question mark (?) and the exclamation point (!) into a single punctuation mark. It conveys a question asked in an excited way. For example:

Are you really coming over to my house on Friday
You can’t be serious! You’ve never seen an episode of Friends
He said what

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

4 Interview Tips for Introverts That Will Make You Comfortable in Any Setting

Introverts are energized by solitude rather than social activities. We value deep connections. We’re better listeners than we are talkers, at least where chatty small talk is concerned. Unfortunately, job interviews require us to be gregarious, make only a superficial connection, and chit-chat. About ourselves. The horror!

I was well into adulthood before my extroverted dad admitted that, despite my preferring solitude and books over people, I turned out pretty okay.

Monday, July 21, 2014

6 Ways to Celebrate National Teacher Day

May 5 is National Teacher Day. In advance of the holiday, it’s important to remember that you wouldn’t be where you are today without the teachers who influenced you throughout your life. Whether your favorite educators are from elementary school, high school, or college, make sure to tell them what a positive effect they’ve had on your life. Here are six ways to celebrate National Teacher Day.

Friday, July 18, 2014

E.g. vs. I.e.–What’s the Difference?

I.e. and e.g. are both Latin abbreviations. E.g. stands for exempli gratia and means “for example.” I.e. is the abbreviation for id est and means “in other words.” Remember that E is for example (e.g.) and that I and E are the first letters of in essence, an alternative English translation of i.e.

But why bother with all this Latin? Don’t we have enough abbreviations in English?

Think about it.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sometime, Sometimes, and Some Time

  • Sometime means “at some point.”
  • As an adjective, sometime also means “former.”
  • Some time means “a period of time”—usually a long period of time.
  • Sometimes means “occasionally.”

What is the difference between sometime and some time? And where does sometimes fit into the equation? Don’t worry, the answer is simpler than you might think.

Sometime: One Word

There are two ways to use sometime as one word.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What Is an En Dash, and How Do I Use It?

An en dash is a mid-sized dash (longer than a hyphen but shorter than an em dash) that is mostly used to show ranges in numbers and dates. It can also be used for clarity in forming complex compound adjectives. The en dash derives its name from the fact that it is meant to be the same width as the letter N.

Using an En Dash with Number and Date Ranges

A properly executed en dash is especially important in scientific and mathematical writing because it is used between numbers to represent the wordto.

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Parallel Love Letter to Grammar

In honor of National Poetry Month, writer Antonella Gazzardi has contributed a poem about grammar for your reading pleasure!

Every weekday in April, we will be sharing a poem, an excerpt of poetry, or a feature on a poet. Our celebration will feature poetry from every era, and we ask our friends to join us throughout the month by sharing their favorite poetry under the tag #PoetryMonth.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Why Text Messaging is Butchering Grammar

Guest post from Emily Green

Well, it took a decade, but it’s finally happened. People text so much that they’ve forgotten how to use proper grammar. What’s worse, it seems like the general population is accommodating them. This needs to stop. Let’s look at why text messaging is butchering grammar and what we can do to stop it.

Typing Shorthand is the Popular Style

You may not know what shorthand is by its name, but you’ve definitely seen it.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Funny Phrases: Whet Your Appetite

It’s no wonder that many people misspell the phrase “whet your appetite.” After all, your mouth waters when your appetite is stirred, so why wouldn’t the phrase be spelled as “wet your appetite”?

In its most literal sense, “whet” means to sharpen like you would a knife or blade. When used in the phrase “whet your appetite,” it means to arouse interest or eagerness, to metaphorically sharpen your appetite.

Monday, July 7, 2014

It’s Time to End Grammar Snobbery

“Actually, it’s fewer.”

As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I wanted to take them back. An acquaintance had just made the dreaded less-fewer slipup in casual conversation, and I had begun to correct him before I realized two things: I didn’t know this person well enough to correct his grammar in an email, let alone in a quip uttered on a Friday night. My correction could easily come off as patronizing advice, or worse, a jab at his intelligence.

Friday, July 4, 2014

How to Spring Clean Your Writing

Does your writing feel cluttered?

Over winter, you fell into the habit of drafting dense paragraphs that feel stuffy and humid, like a cramped apartment with a wheezing, determined radiator. Or your structure fell into madness, like a closet seething with mysterious solvents, loathsome sporting gear, and drawers of mismatched screws.

Now’s the time to dust off your style, haul out the verbiage, and ready your next project for sunshine and daffodils.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

J.K. Rowling’s Top Tricks for Working Magic With Your Writing

One of the most miraculous aspects of J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world is that it’s just so darn big. If you’re an aspiring author, you may wonder just how Rowling managed to crank out so many books, use so much imagination, and keep the ideas flowing.

Here’s a secret: she didn’t just wave a magic wand. She wrote every single one of the 1,084,170 words in the Harry Potter series (and lots more in her other books, plays, and movies).

The Internet Can Cultivate Writing. Good Writing.

Image from

Almost anyone who cares about language and knows about or uses the Internet has been guilty at one time or another of demonizing the world wide web for its effects on the English language. “The Internet makes it easy for people, including professional writers, to publish writing publicly without editing.” “The Internet encourages casual writing and doesn’t reinforce proper writing skills.” “Students would write better if they weren’t on Facebook all the time.” It’s easy to blame the Internet and say that if it didn’t exist, written English would be on solid ground.

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Rise of the Helping Verb

You hire a fashion consultant to help you redesign your wardrobe. He tells you to get rid of your most recently acquired shoes. You gasp in surprise because you bought the shoes only a couple of days ago. All the celebrities are wearing them. How can they not be fashionable? You may ask the same thing about helping verbs. Aren’t they always in fashion? The short answer is no. New words are always emerging.

Toward or Towards

  • Toward and towards are two acceptable ways of spelling the same preposition.
  • Toward is the preferred spelling in the United States and Canada.
  • Towards is the preferred spelling in the United Kingdom and Australia.

Some words have multiple correct spellings. You probably already know this is true for certain verbs (e.g., spell vs. spelt) and several nouns (e.g., color, favor, neighbor); prepositions aren’t immune to it either.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Comma Before Parenthesis or After?

Commas may be placed after the closing parenthesis but not before either the opening or the closing parenthesis. If the sentence would not require any commas if the parentheses were removed, the sentence should not have any commas when the parentheses are present.

You’ve likely seen writers use parentheses to set apart information from the main sentence. But do you know how to use them correctly?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Is Using “As Soon As Possible” Rude?

Your co-worker just sent you a message on Slack:

Bossy McBosserpants

I need the report as soon as possible

What runs through your head? Along with potential anxiety about a looming deadline (looks like you’re eating lunch at your desk again) you may feel annoyance. After all, that demand sounded pretty darn pushy.


Requests that include “as soon as possible” (or the ubiquitous acronym ASAP) can come across as rude.

Friday, June 20, 2014

MLB Fans and Grammar: A Whole New Ball Game

As Major League Baseball gears up for the All-Star Game, Grammarly teamed up with The Wall Street Journal once again to see which team has the most grammatically correct fans. We looked at all 30 official MLB team sites and analyzed the top 150 comments for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. Each team had an average of over 10,000 words.

The Cleveland Indians hit a home run making the fewest mistakes (just 3.6 mistakes per 100 words) while the New York Mets strike out making 13.9 mistakes per 100 words.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Uses of Verbs–Grammar

Verbs tell you what the subject of a sentence or clause is doing (or being). Verbs are conjugated according to person, number, gender, tense, aspect, mood, or voice.

Verbs are at the heart of sentences and clauses; they are indispensable to the formation of a complete thought. A verb can express a thought by itself (with the subject implied) and be understood.



Tuesday, June 17, 2014

It’s a Barnyard Full of Animal Idioms

These idioms about animals are the cat’s meow. Here’s a short list of animal-related idioms and what they mean:

  • Curiosity Killed the Cat: asking a lot of questions can get you into trouble.

I’d be careful with your investigation. Curiosity killed the cat, after all.

  • Cry Wolf: give a cry for help or alarm when there is no danger.

He cried wolf so many times before that when he was attacked, no one came to his rescue.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Do you proofread your emails?

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

Friday, June 13, 2014

How Do I Show Emphasis in a Sentence

If you need to emphasize a word or a particular fact in a sentence, you can use italics to stress it. That said, italics and other font changes lose their impact if overused. It is best to use such devices sparingly and rely on strong writing and strategic word placement to get your point across.

Before the advent of word processing, it was common to underline words to show emphasis.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

English Words from Around the World

The vocabulary of modern English owes a lot of its richness to borrowing words from other languages, but it borrows from some languages much more than others. We have only one word of Finnish origin in common use, but it’s a good one. Sauna, a direct import from Finland, pulls double-duty as our word for a relaxing steam bath and as the perfect way to describe gloriously hot, humid summer days.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Aid vs. Aide—What Is the Difference?

  • Aid (as a noun) means “help” or “assistance.” As a verb it means “to help” or “to assist.”
  • An aide is an assistant.

Even though the words aid and aide have similar meanings, are written similarly, and are pronounced the same, they cannot be used interchangeably.

What Does Aid Mean?

Aid can be a verb, a noun, or an adjective. It is synonymous with the words “help” or “assist” when used as a verb, and again “help” and “assistance” when used as a noun:

Thursday, June 5, 2014

7 Writing Tips That Will Help You at Work

Let’s get the bad news over with first: no matter how much you write, it will probably never become the kind of mindlessly automatic task for which you’re fully free to zone out.

In other words, writing steadily for an afternoon will never be as meditative as a long drive down an empty highway. You have to keep filling the progress bar yourself. Seated at the keyboard, every moment a writer spends mentally compiling a grocery list or critiquing the coffee shop’s playlist is a moment that zero writing is done.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

What is the official language of the U.S.?

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

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

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

Monday, June 2, 2014

Conditional Verbs

Conditional verbs are used to create conditional sentences, which express hypothetical or unlikely situations. Conditional verbs can be used in the past, present, or future tense, and auxiliary verbs like can/could, will/would, and may/might are important in forming conditionals.

Consider the following conditional sentences, and pay close attention to the conditional verbs in each of them:

Friday, May 30, 2014

#GrammarDay Celebrity Personality Quiz: Is Your Grammar Like a Pop Star or a Comedian?

To share this quiz with your readers, embed this in your blog post by pasting the following HTML snippet into your web editor:

Are you curious how all the celebrities did? Learn more about our #GrammarDay MVPs in our recent study.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

9 Things You Need to Give up to Be a Successful Writer

Written communication isn’t easy. If it was, there would be no misunderstandings on social media, and we would never have to go back and clarify something we’d written after the fact. But that’s not the world we live in.

The need to improve one’s writing skills isn’t reserved only for those who want to be published novelists or award-winning journalists—there are endless benefits to being able to communicate through the written word.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Countable and Uncountable Nouns: Rules and Examples

Countable Nouns

Countable nouns refer to items that can be counted, even if the number might be extraordinarily high (like counting all the people in the world, for example). Countable nouns can be used with articles such as a/an and the or quantifiers such as a few and many. Look at the sentence below and pay particular attention to the countable noun:

Here is a cat.

Cat is singular and countable.

Monday, May 26, 2014

How to Spell 40: Forty or Fourty?

40 (forty) is the number that follows 39 and precedes 41. Though it’s related to the number “four” (4), the modern spelling of 40 is “forty.” The older form, “fourty,” is treated as a misspelling today. The modern spelling could reflect a historical pronunciation change.

If you catch yourself misspelling the name of this number as fourty, you’re not alone. It’s a common mistake, both in print and online:

Friday, May 23, 2014

Grammar Basics: What Are Commonly Confused Phrases in English?

Are there certain phrases in English that you can never quite remember? Chances are, others have the same difficulty. Here are some of the most commonly confused expressions in English.

I couldn’t care less So you do care! That’s what you’ll be saying if you say what many others mistakenly do: I could care less.

By accident If you say this wrong, you might have learned it from a native speaker.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Grammar Basics: What Are Defining Clauses?

Sentences may contain many different types of clauses. Defining clauses, also called restrictive clauses, serve an important function. What role do they play in sentences and how does it relate to the name of these clauses?

First, let’s lay some groundwork. A subject, verb, and a relative pronoun (who, whose, where, when, which, or that) distinguish relative clauses from other types of clauses, though not all three are needed.

Monday, May 19, 2014

5 Ways League of Legends Helps You Communicate Better Under Pressure

You are battling toward the nexus in a 5v5-ranked game late on a Wednesday night. You have to work the next day and know you are not going to get enough sleep. But fear not! Your dedication to League of Legends is helping more than just your online rep. It’s helping you to be a better team player by teaching you these five valuable lessons in communicating under pressure.

1 You’re ready to fill the gaps

Friday, May 16, 2014

Nine Novellas Dancing Onto Your Reading List

On the ninth day of LitMas . . .

. . . you get nine wonderful novellas!

Novellas tend to fly under the radar. Readers know what to expect from short stories, and they know what they’re getting into with novels, but novellas fall into an ill-defined space somewhere between short story and novel. Some people think of them simply as very short novels—others have more specific criteria.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Monday Motivation Hack: Keep Moving Forward

Some people spring out of bed on Monday feeling fresh, relaxed, and eager to get back to work. But I’m not convinced those with boundless energy and enthusiasm are of this world. I woke this morning, dragged myself out of bed, showered in a half-dead daze, and made a beeline for my French press to brew some Sumatra roast. For most of us, getting back into the work week can be rough.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Not-So-Sweet 16: Boss CC Sneak Attack vs. Over-Forwarding

Welcome back to the Not-So-Sweet 16! Today, we have two powerhouse email competitors that vie for the enviable title of “most annoying email habit.” Which do you think is worse, sneaky CCs or mass forwards?

Boss CC Sneak Attack:

Occasionally, there is a reason to CC your manager on an email about a project or issue you’re working on. This is not one of those times. The “sneak attack” occurs when someone adds your boss to a thread in order to intimidate you or encourage a specific outcome.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

5 LGBT Authors Who Have Made an Impact

It’s no secret that some of the finest pieces of literature ever written were authored by members of the LGBT community. From the poetry of Walt Whitman to the landmark plays of Tony Kushner, it’s impossible to overstate the impact LGBT authors have had in American literature. In honor of Pride Month, here are five of the most important and influential LGBT writers of all time.

Oscar Wilde

Are Dictionaries Still Important?

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 6, 2014

Words for Peace Around the World

We invent words all the time: movie, jeggings, Internet . . . Did you know underwhelmed has only been around since the 1950s? Of course, we drop words just as often. When was the last time you met a cordwainer? But important words tend to stick around and influence other words in all kinds of interesting ways. Let’s take a look at one of these words, which also happens to be one we hear a lot this time of year: peace.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Linking Verbs

Linking verbs are verbs that serve as a connection between a subject and further information about that subject. They do not show any action; rather, they “link” the subject with the rest of the sentence. The verb to be is the most common linking verb, but there are many others, including all the sense verbs.

A handful—a very frequently used handful—of verbs are always linking verbs:

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

All the Sports Words Only Americans Use

To many Americans, Super Bowl Sunday is synonymous with junk food, cheering, the best new commercials, and possibly the sensation of winning (or losing) a war. People in other countries sometimes wonder if the prize is a very large bowl.

It’s not just the fascination with football that befuddles non-Americans—it’s the very words we use to describe it. That goes for sports-related words in general, especially when we compare certain terms in American English to their British counterparts.

Monday, April 28, 2014

How to Read Between the Lines of a Job Description

Guest post from Jennifer Parris, Career Writer for FlexJobs

On the surface, a job description might seem fairly straightforward. It lists the job title, a smattering of responsibilities, and contact info by which you can apply for the position. But upon a second reading, you’re sure to find many layers to the posting, full of nuances and hidden messages that a seasoned job seeker might be able to pick up.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mistaking a dangling participle, laughter was heard anyway.

If the title of this post doesn’t make any sense, it shouldn’t.

This is going somewhere, I promise! Bear with me.

Today, while scouring Tumblr and various forums for “The Best Picture on the Internet,” I came across the following:

I am certain that most people read to the last frame and, caught up in Johnny Carson’s joke, didn’t think twice about whether or not Dean Martin knew what a dangling participle is.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

5 Reasons You Should Read a Damn Book

Watching too much TV is bad for your health. According to some sources, being a couch potato will make you less smart. It will consume your time, influence your social relationships, affect your physical health in a very bad way, affect your emotional well-being, and skew your worldview. And the list goes on.

But this isn’t an article about the perils of TV watching. It’s an article about why books might be a better pastime (or passion, if you get to that level) for you to pick up.

Five Books that Will Make You a Better Communicator

How do you feel when you can’t communicate your ideas or emotions? If you find it frustrating, why not make a study of communication skills? Learning to communicate is like learning to swim. You progress from breathing exercises in a few feet of water to practicing laps in deeper water. Before you know it, you’re ready for the diving board. Let’s review some books, starting with some simple fixes based on personal experiences.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Punctuation Standards in British English

There are certain punctuation standards in British English that are important for a writer to understand. Even the most insightful article might be dismissed by readers because of punctuation errors, even if they have nothing to do with the merit of the content. Some mistakes crop up time and time again, making them understandable, but all the harder to excuse. Consider these punctuation pitfalls in British English that often trap the unwary.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Hyphens: The Punctuation Mark That Even Editors Can’t Get Right

It stalks the thick jungles of prose, confounding even the most experienced grammar explorer or navigator, yet it’s a gentle, mistaken, and forlorn creature. What am I talking about? The hyphen—the piece of punctuation that not even seasoned editors can seem to get right.

Super high-profile ad agencies and industry giants, despite large budgets and an intelligent workforce, are known to make hyphen mistake after mistake, unable to get a handle on correct hyphen usage.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

That’s How You Say It? 9 Words with Tricky Pronunciations

If you read a lot, you probably have an excellent vocabulary. But it also means that you may know a lot of words that you’ve only seen in writing and never heard spoken aloud. Sometimes even common words are easy to misread. Language enthusiasts have coined the term “misle” for a word that leads you to incorrect assumptions about its pronunciation. It comes from the word misled (as in, the past tense of mislead), which many language lovers admit to misreading at one time or another as the past tense of some imaginary verb along the lines of “to misle.”

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Advice on Positive Thinking From Winnie the Pooh

1 The simplest things in life are the ones you should appreciate the most.

“What I like best in the whole world is Me and Piglet going to see You, and You saying ‘What about a little something?’ and Me saying, ‘Well, I shouldn’t mind a little something, should you, Piglet,’ and it being a hummy sort of day outside, and birds singing.”

2 Bad things are less bad if you have friends to help you.

Friday, April 11, 2014

10 Wonderful Words to Learn for Dictionary Day

Happy Dictionary Day!

October 16, 1758, was the birthdate of the American lexicographer Noah Webster. If you’ve ever wondered who decided that Americans should write color while the British write colour, Noah Webster is your guy.

To celebrate our love of lexicography, here are ten wonderful words to add to your vocabulary today:

Antipode n. A direct or extreme opposite. Angelica often gets into heated conversations with Duane, her ideological antipode.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Farther vs. Further

People use both further and farther to mean “more distant.” However, American English speakers favor farther for physical distances and further for figurative distances.

Ray LeBlond once said “You learn something every day if you pay attention.” Today is the day to learn the difference between further and farther.


Unsurprisingly, farther means “at or to a greater distance.” In Salt to the Sea, Ruta Sepetys uses this adverb to describe the activity of some sea vessels: Some boats eventually floated ashore.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

When Do You Use a Comma Before “Because”?

Most of the time, you should not use a comma before because when it connects two clauses in a sentence. Because is a subordinating conjunction, which means that it connects a subordinate clause to an independent clause; good style dictates that there should be no comma between these two clauses. An exception can and should be made when the lack of a comma would cause ambiguity.

Because has a straightforward job to do in the English language.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Four Types of Book Editing

Four Types of Book Editing


Friday, April 4, 2014

Does spelling accuracy influence your opinion?

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.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Monday, March 31, 2014

5 Retro Games that Made Us Better People

You’re having an average morning at the office, when suddenly word ripples out from the corner suite: the boss is going to visit a major potential client this afternoon, and she wants the latest version of the demo ready to show off. A wave of adrenaline sweeps the room—this is all hands on deck.

The copywriter and designers launch into vetting every scrap of text and making sure every element on the screen will be pixel-perfect.

Friday, March 28, 2014

What do you think about gender-neutral pronouns? Take our weekly poll!

Gender-neutral pronouns are nouns that stand in for one’s name but do not reflect the sex of the referenced person. In contrast, he, she, him, her, his, hers, etc. are gendered pronouns, reflecting the sex of the referenced person. Many gender activists and even some linguists argue that plural gender-neutral pronouns — like they, them, their — are not acceptable substitutes for the unwieldy ‘his or her’, ‘he or she’ and ‘himself or herself’ constructions.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Quick Tips: Using Contractions Correctly

Contractions are useful in both spoken and written language. They save time, use fewer letters than full words, and help us to sound less formal when the situation calls for it. Contractions are combinations of two words and, in most cases, the apostrophe indicates where letters are omitted. Here’s a handy list of contractions.

Common contractions Do + not = Don’t (The apostrophe tells us that a letter, O, has been removed.) Are/is + not = Aren’t/isn’t They + are = They’re It + is/has = It’s Could/Would/Should + have = Could’ve/Would’ve/Should’ve Could/Would/Should + not = Couldn’t/Wouldn’t/Shouldn’t We + are = We’re Will + not = Won’t (This is the slight exception to the rule that the apostrophe replaces the dropped letters.

Make Up Your Mind, English! Conscious vs. Conscience and Unconscious vs. Unconscionable

English is anything but a straightforward language. Words that look alike but actually mean something slightly different are a common source of confusion. Take conscious, conscience, unconscious, and unconscionable. All are derived from the same root, so it’s natural to assume that the first two are the opposite of the last two. But use them interchangeably like this and you are likely to confuse (and possibly amuse) your listeners.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Monday Motivation Hack: Set an Intention

“Set your intention.”

How does that make you feel? Inspired? Or did the flash of a pseudo-spiritual yoga sesh make you cringe?

You will be happy to know that intention-setting isn’t just for yoga buffs and the meditative among you. Observationally, psychologists have found evidence of greater levels of achievement when daily intentions are set and revisited.

Likewise, it’s important to understand that intentions are different things for different people.

The Basics of Clauses in English

Clauses are groups of words that contain a subject and a verb. Why should you care about them? Have you ever told someone you loved them? Or written a letter to a friend? Likely, you did it with the help of clauses. You would find your ability to communicate severely limited if you had to express your thoughts without these serviceable units of speech. Why, even asking why you should care about clauses would be impossible!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

How to Use “-Esque”?

  • The suffix -esque means “like” or “resembling.”
  • You can add -esque to almost any noun, including proper nouns.
  • Use restraint. Too many -esque words in the same passage may seem clumsy and repetitive.
  • Don’t pile on redundant suffixes that mean the same thing as -esque (e.g., “picturesque-like”).

If someone called you a statue, you might not find it so flattering. However, if someone called you statuesque, you would probably thank them for the compliment.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Not-So-Sweet Game 5: Background Noise Nuisances vs. Should’ve Spoken IRL

In the battle for the worst call habits, we’ve had some solid contenders. Our followers overwhelmingly agreed that background noise and calling instead of chatting in person are two of the worst. Do you agree? Vote for the absolute worst below.

Background Noise Nuisances

We’ve all joined a call where the other participants sounded like they were either in an echo chamber, a wind tunnel, or the middle of Times Square.

Friday, March 14, 2014

You Better Watch Out: Christmas Carols Aren’t as Grammatically Correct as You Might Think

To hear some people tell it, one of the great hallmarks of the holiday season is singing carols–think Jingle Bell Rock, Silent Night, and Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer. But interestingly, many carolers don’t actually stop to consider the words of these popular holiday songs.

Commonly misunderstood song lyrics can be hilarious or downright confusing–so as word nerds, the Grammarly team decided to take a closer look.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Is It Flier or Flyer?

  • A flyer can be one of several things: a pamphlet, something that flies, or a device you’d use to twist yarn.
  • Flier is a also an accepted spelling of the word.
  • Keep in mind, though, that the guidelines for the usage of flyer and flier vary from one style guide to another.

A flyer, a circular, a leaflet, a pamphlet, a handbill—so many words for one simple thing. A piece of paper with words and images printed on it that gets handed out on a street.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Mother of All Blog Posts

According to, a woman named Anna Jarvis created the American version of the holiday in 1908, prompted by the passing of her own mother. It became an official holiday in 1914. Jarvis later denounced the commercialization of the holiday and tried to have it removed from the calendar!

Here are some fascinating facts about Mother’s Day:

  • More phones calls are made on Mother’s Day than any other day of the year, with a spike in traffic of as much as 37 percent.

Monday, March 10, 2014

How to Quote a Quote?

  • In American English, use double quotation marks for quotations and single quotation marks for quotations within quotations.
  • In British English, use single quotation marks for quotations and double quotation marks for quotations within quotations.

The rules for using quotation marks can seem complicated, but once you understand the basic principles, it’s not so bad. But what do you do when you’ve got a quote within a quote?

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Battle of the Brands (INFOGRAPHIC)

In these social-media driven times, a company’s image depends increasingly on its words. From blog posts, tweets, and Facebook status updates, to good ol’ fashioned billboards, a brand’s ability to deliver error-free copy is key. While only a handful of people might notice a minor grammatical blunder in a corporate LinkedIn page, major errors undermine the brand’s credibility. After all, if a company can’t even spell correctly, why would consumers trust them to deliver a quality product?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Office Snacks that Will Lead to Better Writing

You may not think about it much, but having a brain and using it requires a lot of energy.

Despite making up just 2 percent of the average adult’s body weight, the brain uses more than 20 percent of the body’s total energy. There’s no 80/20 rule at work here; the human brain is far and away the most energy-consumptive organ in the body.

And that’s not all.

According to brain studies, the amount of fuel needed for your brain is constant, meaning your brain is always hungry.

Why You Should Learn Roots

Have you ever noticed how, in the English language, some small words sometimes appear in a lot of bigger words? Take the word “friend,” for example. If you notice someone who is acting friendly toward you, you might want to start a friendship, so you befriend her. You don’t want to be friendless, after all, but you also probably don’t want to befriend unfriendly people, so you save your friendliness for those who really deserve it.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Embrace Your Geekness With the Character Sketch

You are a writer. You enjoy what you do, and you do it well. So, what do you love most about writing? Could you pick one specific thing? Are we speaking of fiction, nonfiction or poetry? Essays maybe? Where does editing fit in here? Be careful, it quickly becomes a complicated question.

If we parse out all of the elements of writing, there are literally thousands of specific mechanics from which we could choose.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

10 Jargon Phrases to Avoid in Business Writing

Business-speak. The fact that the jargon of the business world is often annoying is the least of its problems. If there’s one trait business writing needs to have, it’s clarity—which is the trait most business jargon phrases completely lack. They’re neither precise nor informative. They’re not even professional. They’re just vague, even though some of them sound awesome and trendy.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Essentials of Conditionals

You only have to observe a dog rooting around in the trash can to realize that dogs don’t understand what could happen if they eat spoiled food. Humans, on the other hand, have the power of reason. Rotten meat is dangerous. They can imagine various possible consequences—a tummyache, a trip to the hospital, expensive prescriptions, and so on. Conditional sentences reflect humans’ capacity to hypothesize.

Monday, February 24, 2014

English can be tough, but what part of grammar is the most confusing?

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, February 21, 2014

How to Use “Former” vs. “Latter”

The terms former and latter are words used to distinguish between two things. Former directs us to the first of these two things, and latter directs us to the second (or last) of them. Do not use former or latter when you are writing about more than two things.

Former and latter are words that sound old-fashioned to some people, and indeed they are very old words.

According to the Online Etymological Dictionary, former derives from the Old English word forma, meaning “first.” By the 12th century, former was used to mean “first, earliest in time or order,” and by the 1580s, it arrived at its present meaning, “the first of two.”Latter has a similar history.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Top #SummerReads for 2013

Summer has simmered down and school is back in session. What better way to keep the summer spirit alive a little bit longer than by encouraging you to pick up some of the top #summerreads from the Grammarly community?

In early September, we asked our Facebook, Google+, and Twitter communities which books they would most recommend from their summer reading lists. We simultaneously ran a survey to get more information about summer reading.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Possessive Pronouns: Rules and Examples

Possessive pronouns show that something belongs to someone. The possessive pronouns are my, our, your, his, her, its, and their. There’s also an “independent” form of each of these pronouns: mine, ours, yours, his, hers, its, and theirs. Possessive pronouns are never spelled with apostrophes.

Possessive pronouns simplify constructions that show possession of a noun.

Jane takes pride in Jane’s outfits.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Is ‘Ginormous’ a Word?

  • Ginormous is a non-standard word.
  • Ginormous is an adjective that means very big.

In the murky territory of words you’ve heard people use but you’re not really sure whether you could call them words, ginormous takes up a lot of space.

What Does Ginormous Mean?

Ginormous originated during the World War II as a slang word among British soldiers. Its first official appearance in written form was in the 1948 A Dictionary of Forces’ Slang, 1939-1945.

Friday, February 14, 2014

7 Ways to Motivate Yourself When You’re Exhausted

Romeo and Juliet, peanut butter and jelly. . . some combinations just seem to go together. Deadlines and exhaustion, on the other hand, are a pair that no one likes to experience. What do you do when you are confronted with that undesirable duo? Put up a fight with these seven motivating tactics.

Break your task into smaller steps.

If someone told you to do an online search for a blueprint for a house, you would skip off to your computer without a care in the world.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Welcome to LitMas, the Bookish Holiday Season

’Tis the season . . . to read! The holiday season means colder nights and more time inside for some, so why not spend it with your nose buried in a book?

We know the winter season can be tough for many people, with its short days and long nights. We also know bibiliotherapy is both real and wonderful. So, in the spirit of the holidays and bookishness, we’ve decided to create a new holiday focused on bibliophiles, bookworms, and jokesters of all sorts.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Monday Motivation Hack: Use Your PTO

You think you’re locking in your career by never missing a day.

You’re not alone.

Research shows that more than a quarter of workers fear that taking time off will make them seem less dedicated. Others think that vacation-time martyrdom will boost their chances for a raise or a promotion (it doesn’t).

But, this (very American) cultural phenomenon of rarely taking time off and almost never using all of one’s vacation days is bad news for employers and employees alike.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

These 4 Tips Will Save You Time in Meetings

Sick of unfocused, unproductive meetings? The average office meeting is a modern-day implement of torture, dragging on forever while everyone talks in circles and your annoying coworker (yeah, there’s one in every crowd) hijacks the meeting with his ramblings.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. A well-run meeting will last a bearable amount of time, get everyone aligned and on the same page, and develop clear next steps for what you’re trying to achieve together.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Altogether vs. All Together

  • Altogether means “completely,” “all things considered,” or “on the whole.”
  • All together means “everyone together” or “everything together.”

It’s often said that the whole isn’t necessarily the sum of its parts. That maxim applies when you turn “every day” into “everyday,” and it’s the same when you turn all together into altogether—you get something completely different.

The Difference Between All Together and Altogether

All together refers to all the members of a group.

Monday, February 3, 2014

These words may sound similar, but they have very different meanings.

Conscience and conscious sound very similar and are often misused. For example, you might have heard someone say that they have something “on their conscious” when they actually mean “on their conscience.”

Conscience is a moral sense of right and wrong: My conscience is telling me that I must confess to the crime.

Conscious means aware, alert, or awake: I was conscious of a change in the weather.

Grammar Basics: How to Use Singular “They”

You probably learned about “they” and other pronouns in the first grade. “They” is the third-person plural pronoun, used for talking about groups of things or people.

Henry and Lucy want to go to the movies, but they (Henry and Lucy) don’t have enough money.

“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they (people in general) will surprise you with their ingenuity.” —George S.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

12 Essential Books to Read on LitMas

Merry LitMas!

Joy to the world, the bookish holiday has arrived! How will you celebrate?

We will be cracking the spines of a few of our favorite reads from this year (which, incidentally, make great last-minute gifts for that other holiday that rhymes with LitMas). We may curl up with a book and some tea, stretch out with cocoa and a sweater, or bring a book to a favorite literary haunt.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

How to Stop Procrastinating and Take Control of Your Life

Are you procrastinating? Is there an essay or a blog post you just can’t seem to get done? We could suggest:

Don’t put off until tomorrow what can be done today.

Though, it won’t likely help.

Why not? Professionals, students, educators, writers, and so on have all heard this advice, and we all feel compelled to follow it, but—let’s be frank—it’s not easy to just “stop procrastinating.” We don’t procrastinate for the sake of procrastination or laziness.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Watch Your Words in the Job Search!

The Grammarly team collected 500 active job postings, including marketing and engineering jobs, from the top 100 most profitable companies in the United States. We then assessed how each company used language in these listings to express hiring priorities.

    • Hiring companies do not want someone who views a “job” as “work”
    • “Experience” is more highly valued by hiring companies than “skills”
    • Job seekers should use their cover letter and resume to talk about instances of teamwork vs.

Friday, January 24, 2014

How Tina Fey Gets Things Done


On the heels of our breakdown of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s writing habits, we’re serving up more writing wisdom from none other than the fabulous Tina Fey! The award-winning comedian-screenwriter-actress-producer-author has spent the past twenty years blazing trails as one of the great comic geniuses of our time.

And just in case you’ve been hiking the Amazon or watching only C-SPAN for the past twenty years, here’s a quick recap of her career . . .

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Eight Christmas Grammar Mistakes That Will Make You Think

How many times have you seen “Happy Holidays from the Jones’s” or “Mary Christmas” in a Christmas card?

When you’re working through a stack of Christmas cards, it can be difficult to cross your t’s and dot your i’s, let alone remember a series of seemingly random holiday-related grammar rules. So, in the spirit of holiday giving, we’re giving you eight Christmas grammar tips for LitMas.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Entitled vs. Titled

You can say that a book is entitled “so and so,” but to say that it’s titled might be a more elegant and middle-of-the-road solution.

It doesn’t take a large leap of imagination to see how this blog might be read by someone who is working on his or her first book. To those of you who are working on novels, we wish the best of luck, offer some advice, and present you with a conundrum—will you title your book, or will you entitle it?

Friday, January 17, 2014

There is no official language of the United States. Should that change?

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.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Learned or Learnt?

There are many perks to speaking the lingua franca of your time, but one of the downsides is that you’ll always doubt whether you’re using it right. English has almost as many variants as there are countries that use it as their official language. A great example of that is the past tense of the verb learn—is it learnt? Or is it learned?

Learnt and learned are both used as the past participle and past tense of the verb to learn.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Famous Friendships in Children’s Literature

Everyone knows you can’t get good at grammar without friendship. Children’s literature has some great models of friendship at its finest.

In growing-up order, here are five such examples of best friends through the ages.

Frog and Toad

“We will skip through the meadows and run through the woods and swim in the river. In the evenings we will sit right here on this front porch and count the stars.”

Monday, January 13, 2014

How Gaming Makes You a Better (Yes, Better) Communicator

The stereotype of gamers as abysmal communicators is familiar.

It’s easy to picture an anti-social type sitting alone in his unkempt room with the blinds drawn, swilling energy drinks and grinding levels past dawn. Or worse yet, the kind who racks up kills online while wearing a headset and emitting a nonstop stream of cringeworthy recriminations. There is also that timeworn trope of the dungeon crawlers—those chortling weird-beards in the back room of the comic shop, forever rolling dice of peculiar geometries and blurting shrill inanities about critical fumbles: “This is preposterous!”

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Empower Your Writing: Transform the Passive Voice

Tell a writer that he should avoid the passive voice in writing, and he’ll usually agree – although the passive voice is perfectly acceptable grammatically.

Most writers know that the sentence, “The cow jumped over the moon” is better than “The moon was jumped over by the cow.” However, if you check a few documents with Grammarly’s Add-in for Microsoft Office Suite, you’ll see that this ghost continues to haunt.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

5 Must-Visit Museums for Literature Lovers

May 18 is International Museum Day. Some of the world’s greatest treasures and most valuable art are housed in museums, but you can also find smaller museums that cater to nearly every taste and interest. Here are five museums literature lovers might want to visit:

Monroe County Museum in Alabama

Located just down the street from the childhood home of Harper Lee, the author of the famous novel To Kill a Mockingbird, the Monroe County Museum is the home of the famous courtroom in which part of the novel was set.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Strategies to Deal With Chronic Interrupters

Getting interrupted is no fun. Whether it’s at work or with a friend or family member, being the interruptee can make you feel disrespected and unheard. The good news: there are strategies for dealing with interrupters.

First, approach the situation differently based on the context and kind of interrupting. Here are some examples:

  • You’re giving a presentation and your boss interrupts with a question
  • You’re in a brainstorm session and a colleague interrupts your idea with a different idea
  • In a chat with a friend, he or she keeps interrupting to give advice, or change the subject
  • In an argument with a significant other, you both interrupt each other to make your point
  • In a panel on gender and diversity and business, a male executive repeatedly interrupts a female executive (and doesn’t seem to notice until someone calls him out)
  • In an award ceremony, Kanye West interrupts Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech to say Beyoncé made a better video than Tay Tay.