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The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Category: Adjectives and Adverbs

Is It Gray or Grey? Same Color, Different Spelling

Posted on Monday, April 5, 2021, at 9:00 am

As much as we love the English language, we have to admit it can be a little confusing sometimes. It includes words with nearly identical spellings but entirely different meanings. In other cases, as we'll see in a moment, a single word can be spelled in more than one way. Have you ever asked yourself …

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Apart vs. A Part: Do You Know the Difference?

Posted on Monday, March 29, 2021, at 9:00 am

There are some aspects of American English that can be fairly described as "confusing." That's certainly the case when one word can be separated into two and result in a different meaning. Even native speakers of American English can be puzzled by the difference between apart (one word) and a part (two words). Do you …

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Anytime vs. Any Time: Which Is Correct?

Posted on Monday, March 15, 2021, at 9:00 am

This question comes up often, and for good reason. You frequently see both anytime and any time used in written sentences, and when spoken, they sound the same. Because the pause that would go between the two-word version is passed over, it's tough to tell if it should be there in the first place. So, …

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Continually vs. Continuously

Posted on Wednesday, March 10, 2021, at 6:00 am

Writers and speakers of English use the verb continue to communicate the idea of something's going or keeping on, as in "We hope the good weather continues." The concept of the English word continue comes from the Latin root continuāre, meaning "to join together or connect, to make all one." We further understand the idea …

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Farther vs. Further

Posted on Friday, February 12, 2021, at 9:00 am

Few sets of words stump speakers and writers of American English as much as farther and further do. In this post we'll examine the correct uses for each word. One reason farther and further are difficult to distinguish is that both mean something close to "beyond." However, there is a big difference. Farther generally refers …

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Past or Passed: Which Word Is Correct?

Posted on Monday, February 8, 2021, at 9:00 am

The past is many things—but it’s not the same as passed. If you ever find yourself struggling with the grammatical difference between the two, you aren’t alone. They sound identical when spoken aloud and have somewhat related definitions. However, they do have different meanings, and that can help you understand when each word should be …

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Less vs. Fewer

Posted on Monday, January 25, 2021, at 9:00 am

Less and fewer rank among the closest in meaning between two words, often leading to confusion about which to use in a sentence. In this article we’ll help to clear that up for you. Both less and fewer refer to smaller sizes, amounts, or degrees of something. For example, you could say you are looking …

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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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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 7:00 am

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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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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