Category: Grammar and Mechanics

Semicolons

Kurt Vonnegut once wrote that writers should “not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.” He might have been right. It seems...

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How to Fix Comma Splices

You cannot link two independent clauses (which can stand on their own as sentences) with a comma. Fixing a splice is easy and these examples will show you the way.

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Adverbs

Few things do more to distinguish skilled writers from amateurs than the way in which they use adverbs (words that modify verbs and usually end with -ly). The following examples demonstrate why: Example 1: Jane ran quickly past...

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Run-On Sentences

Understanding sentence boundaries is essential to writing. A sentence (at its most basic) requires a subject (a noun) and a verb (an action). Example: He ran. The subject here (he) did an action (ran) and so we have a complete...

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Verb Usage: Simple past vs. present perfect

Both of these tenses are used to focus on the past, but the meaning is different. The simple past is used to describe things in the past that are completed and happened at a known time, while the present perfect is used to describe: 1) things that happened in the past at an unknown or nonspecific time, and 2) things that began in the past and have continued until the present.

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Pronouns

Pronouns are words that are used in place of nouns. Example: The most common pronoun error involves placing the pronoun too far away from the noun that it is replacing (the antecedent). Example: The room spun and she had to prop...

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Apostrophes

It’s sometimes difficult to know with an apostrophe where its proper place is. The answer is that you put an apostrophe in a word to show that letters have been left out. We call these words “contractions” and we use them a lot...

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