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The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Category: Effective Writing

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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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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Christmas ‘Log Review

Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2019, at 11:00 pm

Every year, for six weeks or so, I get a taste of what it's like to be a superstar. From late October to early December, I am accosted daily by an aggressive mob of stalkers who know where I live. Their urgent need for my attention seems to be their only reason for being. No, …

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Diving Back into Dialogue: Part II

Posted on Tuesday, December 3, 2019, at 11:00 pm

Part One of our current discussion on dialogue concerned format, punctuation, and attribution in written conversations. Part Two will center on internal dialogue that conveys what characters are thinking as opposed to speaking. An earlier article on the subject pointed out that direct internal dialogue is expressed in the first person (I, we) and written …

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Misbegotten Views on Gotten

Posted on Tuesday, November 19, 2019, at 6:11 pm

A few of you were dismayed by our using gotten in our article The Lowdown on Different Than. We wrote: "In recent years we have debunked some of these baseless 'rules,' and gotten a lot of heat from frustrated readers." An exasperated gentleman from Australia was "shocked" by the appearance of "gotten," which he denounced ex cathedra as a …

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Diving Back into Dialogue: Part I

Posted on Tuesday, November 12, 2019, at 11:00 pm

We receive many questions from our readers about writing dialogue. We thought now would be a good time to revisit the subject. In doing so, we hope to answer questions some of you might still have. Format Each new line of dialogue is often indented on each line, enclosed in quotation marks, and attended by …

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Composing Comparisons

Posted on Tuesday, October 29, 2019, at 11:00 pm

Comparisons in language help us communicate imagery, opinions, proportions, and degrees of condition, excellence, or deficiency. They serve communication as versatile, colorful tools as long as they are clear and complete. If they are not clear or complete, they can quickly fog another's view of our thoughts. Such ambiguity will often result from an omission …

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Composing with Conjunctive Adverbs

Posted on Tuesday, October 15, 2019, at 11:00 pm

Many of us probably use conjunctive adverbs without being aware we’re doing so. Further understanding their role aids our precision with their inclusion in our writing. Conjunctive adverbs are adverbs that connect related main (independent) clauses. They provide a transition between sentences, typically by comparing and contrasting statements or demonstrating cause and effect. They include …

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Play It Again, Sam

Posted on Tuesday, October 8, 2019, at 11:00 pm

It has been a while since our last pronunciation column, so here's another group of familiar words whose traditional pronunciations may surprise you. (Note: capital letters denote a stressed syllable.) Antarctica  Like the elusive first r in February, the first c in this word is often carelessly dropped: it's ant-ARC-tica, not ant-AR-tica. Err  Since to err is to make an error, …

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Digging Out Extra Details, Clauses, and Words

Posted on Tuesday, October 1, 2019, at 11:00 pm

Writers often walk the fine line of how much information to include in a sentence. What qualifies as too much? We want to include only the details and words that will leave a central point or image clear without slowing the way. Consider the following sentences: On the night of December 25-26, 1776, General George …

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