Tuesday, January 31, 2017


What do you call three periods in a row? Take your time, we’ll wait . . .

The Ellipsis

Those three little dots are called an ellipsis (plural: ellipses). The term ellipsis comes from the Greek word meaning “omission,” and that’s just what an ellipsis does—it shows that something has been left out. When you’re quoting someone, you can use an ellipsis to show that you’ve omitted some of their words.

Monday, January 30, 2017

What’s the Difference Between Was and Were?

The key to understanding when to use was or were in a sentence is determining whether you need to use the subjunctive mood or not. A verb is in the subjunctive mood if it expresses an action or state that is not reality. For example, it might be hypothetical, wished for, or conditional.

“Was” and “Were” as Past and Subjunctive Verb Tenses

To better see what we are up against when deciding when to use was or were, let’s compare the past and subjunctive conjugations of to be side by side.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

How to Structure a Less Stressful Sunday

Do you know where the seven-day week came from?

Your first inclination may be to assume that the seven-day week is based on some celestial phenomenon, like the year (loosely based on the earth’s orbital period) or the month (which was supposedly invented to mimic lunar cycles). Unfortunately, you’d be wrong.

The seven-day week, like the five-day workweek it encompasses, is completely man-made.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

To vs. Too

  • To is a preposition with several meanings, including “toward” and “until.”
  • Too is an adverb that can mean “excessively” or “also.”
  • Just to be clear: two is pronounced the same as to and too, but it can’t be used instead of either of them because it’s a number.

In the hierarchy of things that drive grammar sticklers mad, to and too are near the top. It’s very common to see them confused, abused, and misused, and not just in YouTube comments or on Reddit.

Should You Send Them a Holiday Card?

There’s no doubt that electronic communication is fast and convenient, but there’s one time of year when we seem to prefer a more conventional approach. Americans send 1.6 billion holiday cards by postal mail annually, proving that we still favor tradition when the days get shorter and the year draws to a close.

A Little History Sir Henry Cole of London commissioned the first Christmas card in 1843 by having an artist create an image for a holiday greeting.

Monday, January 23, 2017

5 Smart Ways to Answer ‘Why Should We Hire You?’

Every employer has an ideal candidate in mind at the start of the hiring process. The “Why should we hire you?” question affords you the perfect opportunity to prove you are that candidate.

We all hate having to answer this question, but when you consider it from an employer’s perspective you can see why every interviewer asks it. You wouldn’t buy a new car without first doing your homework to ensure you’re getting the best value for your money.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

What Were the Most Common Email Mistakes of 2017?

How’s your email game? Are people happy to correspond with you, or are they leaving you hanging?

The quality of your email communication can significantly impact how you’re perceived by others (especially in business). And though we all do our best to write like a boss, grammatical errors still creep in.

Fortunately we can learn from our own (and others’) mistakes. So as the year wraps up, let’s take a moment to reflect on the fifteen most common email mistakes made by Grammarly users in 2017 and find out what we can all do to step up our email game in 2018.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

11 Tips to Clean Up Your Dirty, Wordy Writing

Get out the pruning shears: a big part of good writing is good editing. And a surefire way to give your writing a confidence boost is to eliminate words that weigh down your writing and make you sound uncertain.

We call these weasel words. Like weasels, they’re not necessarily bad on their own. In fact, they’re kind of cute. But weasels are known for escaping situations (ever heard of someone “weaseling out” of something?).

Monday, January 16, 2017

11 Words and Phrases to Use in Salary Negotiations if You Want to Succeed

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a magic word you could say in order to get people to agree with you? If, for example, a simple utterance of “abracadabra” could instantly convince your employer to see things your way, salary negotiations would be a whole lot easier.

Unfortunately, we live in the real world, and those magic words that guarantee instant success don’t quite exist — but the good news is, we’ve got the next best thing.

Friday, January 13, 2017

13 Professional Writers to Follow on Facebook

After a delightful meal, have you ever sent your compliments to the chef? Finishing a great novel can leave you with the same urge to congratulate the brilliant mind behind it. Did you know you can leave a message for your favorite author on Facebook? Besides messages, Facebook offers you the opportunity to discover a lot about your favorite writer. Let’s look at the pages of thirteen professional writers!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Compound Words

When two words are used together to yield a new meaning, a compound is formed. Compound words can be written in three ways: as open compounds (spelled as two words, e.g., ice cream), closed compounds (joined to form a single word, e.g., doorknob), or hyphenated compounds (two words joined by a hyphen, e.g., long-term). Sometimes, more than two words can form a compound (e.g., mother-in-law).

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Grammar Basics: What Are Antecedents?

When a pronoun replaces a noun, the noun is called an antecedent.

On Michael’s first day of work, he was a little nervous.

Michael is the antecedent and he is the pronoun. The antecedent doesn’t have to go before the pronoun, but putting the pronoun first can make long or complex sentences harder to follow.

On his first day of work, Michael was a little nervous.

Friday, January 6, 2017

How Do Creative People Overcome Imposter Syndrome?

Last night, I performed at a local open mike. I’ve been singing forever. Performing was even a legitimate side hustle for me for about seventeen years. But at the open mike, I was sitting at the piano in front of a group of talented fellow musicians, and I was nervous as hell.

Even so, I got up there under the lights, sat down at the piano, and surrendered to the music. When I stepped from the stage, the musicians and guests gathered in the little performance space murmured their approval, letting me know they thought my singing and playing had been solid.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Commonly Confused Word Pairs

By Laura Wallis for The Stir by CafeMom

Words that sound alike but have different meanings and spellings are called homophones, and especially for kids who are just learning to spell, they can cause trouble every time. There are some rules to help budding writers remember the trickiest homophones, but in many cases it’s just a matter of memory. There, their . . . they’ll get them in time.