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: