Thursday, July 30, 2015

“Seasonal” Words: Do They Exist?

Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language,

Henry James once wrote.

With the start of spring and the promise of summer, now is a good time to think about seasonal words. Writers, by nature, are collectors of words and catchy turns of phrase, but are there some that should be retired when they fall out of season?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Republican Primary Candidates Grammar Power Rankings

At Grammarly, we believe that every time we write, we make a statement. Technology encourages fast-paced typing and textspeak—and while we don’t think that’s always bad—we do think it can fuel misconceptions and get out of hand.

In the interest of fun and a little gamesmanship, we’ve started a series of studies to award Grammar Power Rankings to different categories of commenters across the web.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Early Bird Catches the Word: Analysis Shows We Write Better by Day

“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

So says the old proverb, often attributed to Benjamin Franklin. Of course, Franklin lived in a time before electric lighting, when staying up late meant burning the midnight oil and people had good reason to be productive during the daylight hours. Even so, at least when it comes to writing well, he may have been onto something.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Who Is Your Literary “Father Figure?”

What does it mean to be a father? Dads approach fatherhood in a variety of ways, from overbearing to “wrapped around your little finger,” and everything in between. There’s no formula for the perfect father, but there are some commonalities among father figures in literature that make the concept of fatherhood a powerful one.

In honor of Father’s Day, here are six father figures in literature.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

26 Words and Phrases to Never Use in a Resume

Resumes are tricky things. The tried-and-true resume tropes of old no longer make the cut in today’s competitive market.

Odds are good that your resume will go through an applicant tracking system scan to determine whether it contains the right keywords before it even hits a hiring manager’s desk. But let’s assume you’ve passed that test and your resume is awaiting review. The difference between getting an interview and getting a thanks-but-no-thanks email (or no acknowledgement at all) could come down to the words or phrases you used in your resume.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Capitalization: Periods and Events

Specific periods, eras, historical events, etc.: these should all be capitalized as proper nouns. Why? Since there are many periods, eras, wars, etc., the capital will differentiate the specific from the common. Consider the examples below:

Most of the World War I veterans are now deceased.
In the Middle Ages, poor hygiene was partly responsible for the spreading of bubonic plague.

Monday, July 20, 2015

What Do Adjectives Modify?

Adjectives are words that modify nouns. They are often called “describing words” because they give us further details about a noun, such as what it looks like (the white horse), how many there are (the three boys) or which one it is (the last house). Adjectives do not modify verbs or other adjectives.

Most often, adjectives are easy to identify in a sentence because they fall right before the nouns they modify.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Beside vs. Besides—How to Use Each

Beside and besides are quite commonly confused with one another despite their different definitions. Even though they are spelled almost the same, they are not used in the same way.

The Basic Difference Between “Beside” and “Besides”

Beside, without the s, tells us the location of something. Besides, on the other hand, means “in addition,” “in addition to,” “moreover,” or “as well,” depending on context.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

10 Amazing Books That Will Improve Your Writing Skills

Here are two simple truths—writing skills can be taught, and all good writers are also readers. What better way to accomplish two things at once than to read books about writing?

Back in the late ’90s, I owned and managed one of the first websites to offer online workshops especially for writers. Nearly every week, some publishing house would send me one of their latest books for writers hoping for a glowing review.

Monday, July 13, 2015

“Was” or “Were” in the “If” Clause/Conditional

If you find yourself debating whether to use “was” or “were” in a sentence, it’s likely that you’re dealing with an unreal conditional sentence. As a refresher, an unreal conditional sentence expresses events that are hypothetical or improbable.

Typically, an unreal conditional sentence begins with an if clause containing the past tense or past perfect tense of a verb followed by a conditional clause containing a modal verb such as “would.” Consider the following sentences:

If I had told you the answer, I would have been cheating.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Small Talk 101 for Shy People in the Office

Small Talk 101 Syllabus

Course Description

Getting to know others in your office by striking up small talk conversations is an anxiety-inducing social activity, coming in right behind team-building exercises like the trust fall and that relay thing where you have to race around with a raw egg on a spoon. That goes double for introverted or shy people. This course will provide the student with five no-fail tips for striking up a conversation and sample scripts to demonstrate good small talk in action.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Monday Motivation Hack: Set Your Work Boundaries

We’re not going to advise you to just “deal with it” when a coworker talks too much, listens to music too loudly, wears too much perfume, doesn’t meet deadlines, or does just about any other irritating thing people do at work.

This is about understanding your personal tolerance level at work and clearly communicating it to those around you without burning bridges.

Why Is Boundary-Setting So Hard?

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Which kind of writing mistakes most reduce news articles’ 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.

Friday, July 3, 2015

What’s the Most Irritating, Enraging Work Communication Habit?

Ah, March Madness. Every year, this season reminds college basketball lovers to root for the underdog, try their hand at predicting tournament results, and believe in their team. Similarly, our March MADness tournament to choose the worst work habit has had some upsets, a few underdogs, and ultimately, one champion. If you voted in one or more of the polls, thank you! Your voice has been heard.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Persons vs. People vs. Peoples—What’s the Difference?

Most of the time, people is the correct word to choose as a plural for person. Persons is archaic, and it is safe to avoid using it, except in legal writing, which has its own traditional language. Peoples is only necessary when you refer to distinct ethnic groups (for example, within the same region).

“People” vs. “Persons” as Plurals

Person and people both derive from Latin, but from different words.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Three French Phrases English Loves to Borrow

For the third day of LitMas, we’re offering you three French phrases English speakers love to borrow. There’s something kind of glamorous about sprinkling foreign phrases into your conversations every now and then, don’t you think?

1 Joyeux Noël

’Tis the season of wondering what noel means. In French, Noël simply means Christmas. If you’re not sure about joyeux, go ahead and take a guess—you’re probably right.