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The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Category: Subject and Verb Agreement

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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Is None Plural or Singular?

Posted on Friday, February 26, 2021, at 9:00 am

If you have friends and family members with an interest in grammar, asking whether the word none is singular or plural is a good way to start a spirited discussion (and if you have this kind of social circle, we would enjoy knowing how the discussion concluded, but we digress). For many, the presumed wisdom …

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We the People, or…?

Posted on Tuesday, October 20, 2020, at 7:00 am

For much of the last two months, we have been analyzing why the subject pronouns I, he, she, we, they and the object pronouns me, him, her, us, them are chronically misused and confused. In this final installment, we'll deal with flawed sentences like Politicians should respect we the people and It's a happy outcome …

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The Subjunctive Mood

Posted on Tuesday, August 11, 2020, at 7:00 am

An e-newsletter fan 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?” Let us answer that by asking you a question: Are you old enough to remember the ad jingle that began, “I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener …”? …

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American vs. British English: Grammar

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

We hope you’re enjoying our exploration of American and British English as much as we are. So far we've considered variations in spelling and vocabulary between the dialects. Our review continues with a closer look at American and Commonwealth grammar. Prepositions Different phrasing involving prepositions between American and British English may not be as pronounced …

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Sweating the Small Stuff

Posted on Tuesday, June 2, 2020, at 7:00 am

At a football game a few years ago, the University of Notre Dame sold soda in cups that said, "Figthing Irish." Did no one at this distinguished school have the time or pride to proofread a two-word slogan? Here are a few other items we've seen and now wish we hadn't … Back to Basics  …

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2019’s Word of the Year is Inclusive, Not Divisive

Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2020, at 11:00 pm

Have you heard that Merriam-Webster chose the word they as the "Word of the Year"? And that it was chosen as the "Word of the Decade" by the American Dialect Society? We are not surprised. You probably recall that we ran three articles in July-August 2019 discussing the singular they (How Did They Get in …

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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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Picking Proper Pronouns: Part II

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

Last week we began our review of using pronouns that help guide rather than trip our written eloquence. We started with pronouns as clause subjects, for objects, before assertive or attributive expressions, and after than or as.  Today we’ll look at pronouns before a gerund, for an infinitive, and for complements of forms of the …

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