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The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Is Stupider a Word?

Posted on Friday, June 4, 2021, at 6:00 am

A leading principle in learning grammar is that there are no stupid questions. However, there can be questions about the word stupid. That brings us to the topic of today's post: Is stupider really a word? Or would it be better grammar to say more stupid? Neither is very polite, and the answers might surprise …

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What Are Subordinate Clauses?

Posted on Wednesday, June 2, 2021, at 6:00 am

English has two kinds of clauses: subordinate (or dependent) and independent. The difference between them is that an independent clause can stand alone and a dependent one cannot. A subordinate clause by itself is a sentence fragment. Complete stand-alone sentence: I want the ice cream that is made with soy instead of milk and cream. Independent …

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Capital vs. Capitol: Which Spelling Do You Need?

Posted on Monday, May 31, 2021, at 6:00 am

What are the differences between the words capital and capitol? What do they mean, and what are the proper spellings? These are common questions that we'll address in today's post. First Things First: Both Capital and Capitol Can Be Grammatically Correct Let's begin by pointing out that capital and capitol are two different words that …

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Is It Supposed to Be or Suppose to Be?

Posted on Friday, May 28, 2021, at 6:00 am

This is a common question about American English, even among those who grew up speaking the language. That's because both can appear in print and sound the same when spoken aloud. So, should you say supposed to be or suppose to be? Say What You're Supposed To The short answer is that supposed to be …

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Em Dash: What Is an Em Dash?

Posted on Wednesday, May 26, 2021, at 6:00 am

The em dash in American English is a punctuation mark that helps to convey emphasis, introduction, interruption, or a swift change of thought. In doing so, the em dash acts similarly to commas, semicolons, colons, and parentheses. In formal writing, an em dash is the width of an m and longer than both a hyphen and an …

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Alternate vs. Alternative: Which Word Do You Need?

Posted on Monday, May 24, 2021, at 6:00 am

You are probably familiar with the words alternate and alternative. You may have even used them interchangeably. Many native speakers of American English think the words mean the same thing, but they have slightly separate definitions and uses. Which word do you need in a particular sentence? In this article we'll give you the answers …

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Nonrestrictive Clause: What Is a Nonrestrictive Clause?

Posted on Friday, May 21, 2021, at 6:00 am

In a recent post we explained how a restrictive (essential) clause includes information that will change the meaning of a sentence if removed. Today we will look at its grammatical companion, the nonrestrictive (nonessential) clause. As its name suggests, a nonrestrictive clause is one that can be taken away from a sentence without changing understanding …

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Possessive Pronouns

Posted on Wednesday, May 19, 2021, at 6:00 am

English includes several types of pronouns, such as personal, demonstrative, interrogative, relative, indefinite, reflexive, and intensive pronouns. In this review, we'll examine what possessive pronouns are. What Are Possessive Pronouns? A possessive pronoun is a pronoun that indicates or identifies ownership. It can be either an adjective or a stand-in for an antecedent, the noun …

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Restrictive Clause: What Is a Restrictive Clause?

Posted on Monday, May 17, 2021, at 6:00 am

Understanding restrictive clauses is a valuable skill in applying English grammar. With this information, you'll gain further insight into how sentences are constructed for clarity. The Anatomy of a Restrictive Clause A restrictive clause is a dependent clause that modifies a word (noun). The information it gives is necessary for description or identification. In other …

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Helping Verbs: Examples of Helping Verbs

Posted on Friday, May 14, 2021, at 6:00 am

Helping verbs (also referred to as modal and auxiliary verbs): Are you familiar with what they are and how they help other verbs? Whether you are or not, this grammar post will further clarify them for you. What Helping Verbs Are It's easy to pick up the verb in a simple sentence. You just look …

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