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The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Category: Effective Writing

When Should You Use To Whom It May Concern?

Posted on Friday, September 24, 2021, at 6:00 am

The classic letter opening To Whom It May Concern was once incredibly common and popular. You might be seeing it used less often these days, which might lead you to wonder when the salutation is proper to include in a letter or email. We will address that topic and more in this discussion. The Concern …

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What Are Dangling Modifiers?

Posted on Monday, August 2, 2021, at 6:00 am

You may have heard the term dangling modifier before. Students and adults alike will come across it at some point. If you are still familiar with what a dangling modifier is and why it confuses communication, this discussion will be a helpful review. If you’re not as knowledgeable about dangling modifiers, we’ll clarify that subject …

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A vs. An: Should I Use A or An?

Posted on Friday, July 23, 2021, at 6:00 am

You probably use a and an in writing and speech every day. Do you also know which one is proper in each usage? In today’s post we’ll clear up any confusion you might have about a and an. Both a and an are indefinite articles, which are words that refer to a person or a …

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What Does Metaphor Mean?

Posted on Wednesday, June 30, 2021, at 6:00 am

Two common figures of speech in English are the simile and the metaphor. Sometimes their functions are confused or mistaken. In this discussion we'll further explore what a metaphor means and how it can enhance our writing when properly used. What Is a Metaphor? Before we focus on the meaning and function of a metaphor, …

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Mood vs. Tone in Writing

Posted on Friday, May 7, 2021, at 6:00 am

Those who study the art of composition are likely to hear references to mood and tone along the way. The terms may seem or sound synonymous, but they identify different aspects of substance in writing. If you're looking to further develop the style and impact of your writing, particularly as emotional depth is concerned, you …

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Subjunctive Mood: What Is the Subjunctive Mood?

Posted on Monday, April 19, 2021, at 6:00 am

A GrammarBook reader came across this sentence: If I were very lucky, I would get the chance to go. She asked, "Shouldn't I be followed by was, not were, since I is singular?" This is type of question is common within English grammar, particularly because it walks the line between the conditional tense and the subjunctive mood when a dependent if clause is …

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Active and Passive Voice

Posted on Friday, April 9, 2021, at 9:00 am

If you grew up attending American schools, at some point you probably received the advice to "write in the active voice." Although English instructors tend to hold passive-voice statements in lesser esteem, many English speakers (including college graduates) still often use them. Others might even have trouble identifying them in sentences. So what exactly is …

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Looking at Closures to Letters, or “How Do I End a Letter?”

Posted on Friday, April 2, 2021, at 9:00 am

Have you ever finished writing a letter to someone—whether for personal, professional, or academic reasons—and found yourself stumped at the right way to finish it? If so, you certainly aren't alone. Selecting the right closure can sometimes be an uncertainty. That's because how you conclude a letter says something about yourself, your relationship to the …

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Could or Couldn’t Care Less: Which One Is It?

Posted on Friday, February 19, 2021, at 9:00 am

Sometimes in American English, you find an expression that is used or pronounced more than one way. In the case of could and couldn't care less, we may often find that different people use one expression or the other—and they are certain their form is correct. So which is the right one for proper writing …

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What Is an Imperative Sentence?

Posted on Wednesday, February 10, 2021, at 12:00 am

The English language includes four types of sentences: declarative, interrogative, exclamatory, and imperative. An imperative sentence is one in which we assert something, such as when we issue a command, make a request, or give advice, directions, or instructions. The word imperative stems from the 16th century Latin imperātīvus, from the Latin imperāre ("to command"). The word emperor …

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