Category: Adjectives and Adverbs

Everyday vs. Every Day

Posted on Friday, January 22, 2021, at 9:00 am

You have probably seen the word everyday and the phrase every day used interchangeably. You might have wondered which is correct in a sentence, as well as how you can use it more accurately. We’ll help you answer those questions. Everyday vs. Every Day: The Basics The single word everyday is an adjective describing an …

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Either vs. Neither

Posted on Friday, January 15, 2021, at 9:00 am

Have you ever wondered whether either or neither is the right word to use when you’re writing or speaking? Either and neither are similar words, but they have separate meanings. Let’s review either vs. neither and consider a few examples. When to Use Either The word either separates two choices, outcomes, or possibilities: We could …

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Expressing Possession of Gerunds

Posted on Tuesday, October 13, 2020, at 11:00 pm

A gerund is the present participle (-ing) form of a verb functioning as a noun in a sentence. Example: He responded by laughing. (The gerund "laughing" is the noun object of the preposition "by.") A gerund phrase is a gerund plus another element such as an adverb, an adjective, or a noun. Example: Saving money …

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A Study of Style: The U.S. Military

Posted on Tuesday, August 18, 2020, at 11:00 pm

Our exploration of American English strives to venture even further than the principles that guide writing with precision and eloquence. We are also interested in the language variances beyond what we accept as common for information exchange. For example, we know that United States can be abbreviated, often as either US or U.S. One might …

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Some Confusing Words

Posted on Tuesday, July 28, 2020, at 11:00 pm

We have many words in the English language that have subtle differences between them. If you know these differences, you will be confident that you are conveying the meaning you intend. The five sets of confusing words we will cover today are: Adverse vs. Averse Uninterested vs. Disinterested Suppose vs. Supposed Oriented vs. Orientated Democratic Party vs. Democrat Party Adverse vs. Averse Adverse = unfavorable or antagonistic in …

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A Midsummer’s Musing on Miscellany

Posted on Tuesday, July 21, 2020, at 11:00 pm

Our regular readers might note that our study of American English periodically includes smaller but still noteworthy items we collect from research and reader correspondence. It's been several months since our last musings on miscellany, so we thought we'd return for more as we approach midsummer 2020. (To review miscellany from the past two years, …

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To Split or Not To Split

Posted on Tuesday, May 5, 2020, at 11:00 pm

Not everyone knows what an infinitive is, but everyone uses them. Infinitives are formed when a verb is preceded by the word to, as in to run or to ask. Hamlet's "To be or not to be" speech might be the most famous use of infinitives in English literature. One of the great misconceptions about …

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Staying Woke* with New Words

Posted on Tuesday, April 14, 2020, at 11:00 pm

English is a language of flux, always moving and shifting with the changes among us as we evolve. Each year, it introduces around 1,000 new words to represent the events, circumstances, and spirit of the day. Today’s cyber-centric existence makes it only easier for those new words to spread and multiply. We thought it would …

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Leonard’s Ten Commandments

Posted on Tuesday, April 7, 2020, at 11:00 pm

The writer Elmore Leonard, who died in 2013 at the age of 87, was the master of hard-bitten prose. He started out as a pulp novelist, and went on to transcend the genre. Since the mid-1950s, more than forty of his works have been adapted for movies and TV, many of them featuring such A-listers …

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Writing with Nimble Variation

Posted on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, at 11:00 pm

Writing is much like anything else involving enjoyment: too much of one thing can eventually spoil the fun. Just as they might tire from eating the same cereal every morning, readers can soon grow weary from an over-repetition of compositional forms. Consider the following sentence:      Winthrop grew up in poverty. He could not …

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Don’t Put It in Writing

Posted on Tuesday, February 11, 2020, at 11:00 pm

Today we’ll discuss a word and a phrase, either of which would sound fine in a casual exchange but could attract unwanted attention if used in formal writing. Ahold  Although few people would notice anything amiss in a sentence like I wish I could get ahold of a good grammar book, many editors would change …

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Clearing the Air of Errors in English

Posted on Tuesday, January 21, 2020, at 11:00 pm

The adage is true when it comes to our language: Old habits really are hard to break. Notwithstanding classroom instruction, lifelong reminders, correction from others, and even GrammarBook newsletters, certain misuses of English survive like drug-resistant viruses. Yet we grammarians and linguists march on. After all, even the Roman Empire had to give way—eventually. As …

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2019’s Word of the Year is Inclusive, Not Divisive

Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2020, at 11:00 pm

Have you heard that Merriam-Webster chose the word they as the "Word of the Year"? And that it was chosen as the "Word of the Decade" by the American Dialect Society? We are not surprised. You probably recall that we ran three articles in July-August 2019 discussing the singular they (How Did They Get in …

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Year-End Quiz 2019

Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2020, at 11:00 pm

What fun it has been completing another twelve-month trip in our always-running grammatical journey. The year 2019 led us through both familiar and exotic terrain as we considered more of the many parts driving our language. In particular we are grateful for the continuing desire to learn among you, our faithful readers. Your interest and …

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Mixing Miscellany Again

Posted on Tuesday, December 17, 2019, at 11:00 pm

Our study of American English grammar and style sometimes gathers bits too small to feature yet worthy to gather for group exploration. In 2018, we discussed such medleys twice: Exploring Some English Miscellany More Mulling Over Miscellany This year we've continued tracking items of note that we receive from our readers. Let's look at several …

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