Category: Prepositions

Ending a Sentence in a Preposition

Posted on Wednesday, March 24, 2021, at 6:00 am

Many of us who learned American English in school likely received certain inviolable decrees about usage. One of them was to use "___ and I" only as a subject. Another was never to split an infinitive (not true). Yet another was never to end a sentence with a preposition, a breach of form that can …

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For All Intents and Purposes vs. For All Intensive Purposes

Posted on Monday, March 1, 2021, at 9:00 am

You've probably heard this expression used a couple of different ways. You may also have wondered which one is correct and where the confusion comes from. Let's break down what you should write and say, what the phrase means, and why there is confusion about it. Is For All Intents and Purposes Right, or Is …

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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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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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Exchanging English Over the Pond: U.S. and U.K. Part III

Posted on Tuesday, June 9, 2020, at 11:00 pm

We hope you’re enjoying our exploration of U.S. and U.K. English as much as we are. Part I and Part II of our series looked at variations in spelling and word choice between the dialects. Our review continues with a closer look at American and Commonwealth grammar. Prepositions Different phrasing involving prepositions between U.S. and …

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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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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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Practicing Parallelism

Posted on Tuesday, August 20, 2019, at 11:00 pm

Parallelism is the use of consistent grammatical structures in a series of two or more items to assist ease of reading and understanding. We touched briefly on this topic in Parallel Construction and Effective Writing. We’ll revisit it here with additional detail. Let’s start by considering the following sentences: In October, we plan to build …

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Drawing the Subject Out of Hiding

Posted on Tuesday, July 23, 2019, at 11:00 pm

We typically know what a sentence subject is and where to find it: Mary baked the cake. The train left on time. Baseball games are long. Those with a keen eye—as well as those who have read our rules on subject-verb agreement—will also spot the subjects in the following sentences (and understand why the verbs …

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Securing the Subject of Subjects

Posted on Tuesday, June 25, 2019, at 11:00 pm

Last week we discussed how predicates form half of a clause. This week we’ll look closer at the other half, subjects. If the predicate is the engine of the action we communicate, the subject is the body of the vehicle being driven by it, including parts and accessories. The subject includes at least one noun (or noun …

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Predicating Our Knowledge of Predicates

Posted on Tuesday, June 18, 2019, at 11:00 pm

A thorough review of English structure includes understanding subjects and predicates in broader terms. While the concepts of subjects and predicates in their totality may not be as commonly taught as they once were, a brief study will both reinforce our facility as writers and grammarians and further acquaint us with grammatical terminology. Today, we’ll focus on the predicate, the engine of the …

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What’s Up With Up?

Posted on Tuesday, May 21, 2019, at 11:00 pm

We thought we would lighten things up a bit this week. We hope you enjoy it. There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that word is up. It's easy to understand up, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, …

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Declining or Just Changing?

Posted on Tuesday, May 7, 2019, at 11:00 pm

If you think you know your English, Ammon Shea’s Bad English: A History of Linguistic Aggravation might make you question your most cherished notions. The book has a lot to offer grammar sticklers with open minds, but it will challenge—and enrage—most traditionalists. People who care about language tend to deplore the slovenly habits of their …

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Checking In on Worn-Out Words and Phrases: First Quarter 2019

Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2019, at 11:00 pm

"Nature abhors a vacuum," Aristotle once said, and the same holds true for language. If we detect an empty lexical space because we feel existing words no longer occupy it well, we will look to fill it, often with something that seems or sounds fresh within our current culture and era. For a time, we …

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