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The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Regardless vs. Irregardless, Sneaked vs. Snuck, Assure vs. Ensure vs. Insure

Posted on Saturday, August 9, 2008, at 6:40 pm

Regardless vs. Irregardless Some words in the English language are so overused that we don’t notice that they are incorrect or don’t even exist. A perfect example is irregardless. Many scholars maintain there is no such word as irregardless because regardless already means "without regard." The -ir prefix is redundant. Sneaked vs. Snuck Both sneaked …

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Are You Among the Many Who Do This?

Posted on Tuesday, August 5, 2008, at 9:08 pm

Can you guess which word I see misspelled most often? Did you guess misspelled? You’re getting warm. Actually, it’s grammar. From my experience, I think it’s safe to estimate that 20 percent of the English-speaking world spells it with an -er ending. Before anyone points an accusing finger at anyone else, we might want to …

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Bi vs. Semi (weekly, monthly, annually)

Posted on Tuesday, July 29, 2008, at 1:14 am

Using bi or semi in front of time periods can create tremendous confusion these days as definitions and style guidance continue to soften and blur. To illustrate this, we located the following definitions of words with the bi or semi prefix after researching both style books and dictionaries. Biweekly: once every two weeks or twice a …

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Problems with Prepositions

Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2008, at 12:31 am

Prepositions are certain words that go directly before nouns. They often show direction; for example, below, above, over, under, around, through, in, out, between, among, to, toward(s), etc. Other common prepositions include of, for, from, with, like. Rule: You shouldn’t use or end a sentence with an unnecessary preposition, i.e., when the meaning is clear …

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Irregular Verbs

Posted on Friday, July 18, 2008, at 6:25 pm

A verb is called a regular verb if its past tense and past participle are formed by adding -ed (waited, insisted) or sometimes just -d (breathed, replaced). Verbs in English are irregular if they don't have a conventional -ed ending in the past tense. Example: Go (present tense), went (past tense), gone (past participle) Note: …

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This and That, These and Those, Than and Then

Posted on Friday, July 18, 2008, at 5:48 pm

This vs. That This and that are singular. This indicates something physically nearby. It may also refer to something symbolically or emotionally "close."  That can refer to something "over there" or to something that is not as symbolically or emotionally "close" as this is. Examples: This dog is mine. This is mine. That dog is …

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Farther vs. Further

Posted on Friday, July 18, 2008, at 4:57 pm

Have you wondered whether there is a right way and a wrong way to use the words farther and further? The different uses of the two words can be subtle. Let's have a closer look. Farther: Refers to physical distance only. Examples: We had to walk farther than the map indicated. Reno is farther from …

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Editing Tip

Posted on Friday, July 18, 2008, at 10:35 am

Let’s visit the terms editing, proofreading, and formatting. Focus on editing first, checking the content for cohesiveness, clarity, paragraph structure, and overall structure. When you’re satisfied with the content, focus on proofreading, looking for consistency in formatting, margins, text styles, grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Finally, focus on formatting, ensuring consistency in the document’s appearance. Within …

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Exclamation Points with Quotation Marks

Posted on Thursday, June 19, 2008, at 3:59 pm

How do you punctuate if something in quotes ends in a necessary exclamation point or question mark but the sentence continues? The Chicago Manual of Style offers this example: Tichnick’s angry reply, “I do not know the man!” took us all by surprise. Note the comma after reply but no comma after the exclamation point.

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Compel vs. Impel

Posted on Thursday, June 19, 2008, at 12:31 am

Both compel and impel contain the idea of using physical or other force to cause something to be done. Compel means to constrain someone in some way to yield or do what one wishes. Examples: to compel a debtor to pay Fate compels us to face danger and trouble. Impel means to provide a strong …

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