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The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Category: Spelling

To vs. Too vs. Two: Are You Using Them Correctly?

Posted on Friday, April 16, 2021, at 6:00 am

Are there any three identically pronounced words in the English language that can give people so much trouble? Even those who grew up with these words in school can confuse them. If you doubt this, simply visit your favorite social media site after reading this article. There's a chance you could see incorrect usage, particularly …

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Should You Write Alright or All Right?

Posted on Monday, April 12, 2021, at 9:00 am

You might sometimes wonder whether it's all right to use the word alright. As it turns out, there is a mostly right answer to that. The Meaning of All Right and Alright The two-word expression all right is a short way of saying "all is right." That phrase itself is a quicker version of the …

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Catalog or Catalogue: Which Is Correct?

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

Have you seen the word catalog spelled two ways—with and without a u—and wondered which is correct? Here we'll aim to clarify the distinction by explaining the spelling differences and discussing how to use the word in both of its forms. How Do You Spell It? In the U.S., we typically spell catalog without a …

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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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Lead vs. Led: Do You Know the Difference?

Posted on Friday, February 5, 2021, at 9:00 am

The English language is filled with tricky words. One such word is lead. With just four simple letters, it can have different pronunciations and distinctive meanings based on use and context. Let’s look at why that is, and how you can use lead correctly in its different forms. What You Should Know About the Word …

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The Spell of the Holidays

Posted on Tuesday, December 8, 2020, at 11:00 pm

The year-end holidays are an alternate reality. People dress differently, act differently … and even talk differently. This time of year has its own vocabulary, and some of these old-fashioned words have eccentric spellings. So here is our holiday spelling quiz. You'll find the answers directly below. 1. ___ the night before Christmas. A) T'was …

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American vs. British English: Spelling

Posted on Tuesday, May 12, 2020, at 11:00 pm

The U.S. and the U.K. are connected in many meaningful ways, perhaps most notably by a common language. At the same time, we each have variances that make our expressions distinctive, as well as interesting to learn and understand. Stateside, it’s also good for us to recognize British style as that being used in countries …

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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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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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