Category: Verbs

To Split or Not To Split

Posted on Tuesday, May 5, 2020, at 7:00 am

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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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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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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Picking Proper Pronouns: Part I

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

Many of us have been there before: We're writing or speaking with confidence in our content. For a secret second, we might even feel, well, educated. Then, unbeknownst to us, improper pronouns leak in and sabotage the impression we were making. Worse yet, we may not know how or why our eloquence tripped. Using the …

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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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Becoming Savvy with Sentence Structures: Part Three

Posted on Tuesday, May 14, 2019, at 11:00 pm

Sentence structures are the beams of the building of composition. The stronger and better formed they are, the firmer our communication foundation will be. Part One of our discussion introduced us to simple and compound sentences. In Part Two, we explored complex and compound-complex sentences. Let's take a brief look at all four as a …

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