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.