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.