Category: Verbs

The Present Perfect Tense

Posted on Wednesday, January 20, 2021, at 12:00 am

The English language has three verb tenses to indicate the time an action took place: present, past, and future. Each tense is then further categorized as simple, progressive, perfect, and perfect progressive, resulting in twelve total tenses. In this discussion, we'll review the present perfect tense. The present perfect is used to communicate occurrences or …

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We the People, or…?

Posted on Tuesday, October 20, 2020, at 11:00 pm

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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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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Two More Reasons Pronouns Plague Us

Posted on Tuesday, October 6, 2020, at 11:00 pm

For several weeks now, we’ve been counting the ways that pronouns give us nightmares. Today we’ll look at two more culprits: infinitives and verbs that end in -ing (known technically as participles and gerunds). To form an infinitive, precede a verb with the word to. The infinitive of look is to look. Constructions like to …

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The Subjunctive Mood

Posted on Tuesday, August 11, 2020, at 11:00 pm

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?" This type of question is common within English grammar, particularly because it walks the line between the conditional tense and the subjunctive mood. The difference lies in that the subjunctive …

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

Posted on Tuesday, June 23, 2020, at 11:00 pm

During the last several weeks we've covered some meaningful ground about the language we share with our friends across the water. For us, it's been fun to reflect on what we have in common as well as how each dialect varies its voice. So far, we've examined spelling, word choice, and points of grammar. We'll …

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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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To Split or Not To Split

Posted on Tuesday, May 5, 2020, at 11:00 pm

Not everyone knows what an infinitive is, but everyone uses them. Infinitives are formed when a verb is preceded by the word to, as in to run or to ask. Hamlet's "To be or not to be" speech might be the most famous use of infinitives in English literature. One of the great misconceptions about …

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Staying Woke* with New Words

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

English is a language of flux, always moving and shifting with the changes among us as we evolve. Each year, it introduces around 1,000 new words to represent the events, circumstances, and spirit of the day. Today’s cyber-centric existence makes it only easier for those new words to spread and multiply. We thought it would …

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Leonard’s Ten Commandments

Posted on Tuesday, April 7, 2020, at 11:00 pm

The writer Elmore Leonard, who died in 2013 at the age of 87, was the master of hard-bitten prose. He started out as a pulp novelist, and went on to transcend the genre. Since the mid-1950s, more than forty of his works have been adapted for movies and TV, many of them featuring such A-listers …

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Staying Regular with Irregular Verbs

Posted on Tuesday, February 4, 2020, at 11:00 pm

English includes several hundred irregular verbs with an estimated 180 of them in regular use. While many users have likely grasped most of the common irregular conjugations, several of the verbs remain elusive and trip even those who are fluent. We have visited this subject multiple times in the past (see the links at the …

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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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Mixing Miscellany Again

Posted on Tuesday, December 17, 2019, at 11:00 pm

Our study of American English grammar and style sometimes gathers bits too small to feature yet worthy to gather for group exploration. In 2018, we discussed such medleys twice: Exploring Some English Miscellany More Mulling Over Miscellany This year we've continued tracking items of note that we receive from our readers. Let's look at several …

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Misbegotten Views on Gotten

Posted on Tuesday, November 19, 2019, at 11:00 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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