Parts of speech serve our communication needs with hardly a conscious thought on our part, but they operate according to a complex, interdependent set of rules. Here are some of the basic principles of the noun.

A noun is traditionally described as a person, place, or t...

The ellipsis seems to be one of the most intriguing punctuation symbols, and I see it misused everywhere. From student papers to books to everyday e-mails, the ellipsis is tossed in at will and often extends to four, five, or even six dots, but if used correctly, the t...

Knowing the difference between ‘lying’ and ‘laying’ requires the speaker to recognize the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs.

A transitive verb takes a direct object. The action of the transitive verb carries across to a direct object. This direct obje...

The indefinite articles ‘a’ and ‘an’ both mean the same thing. The definite article ‘the’ refers to a particular thing.

Example: Give me the ring! The wedding ring!

While ‘a’ and ‘an’ refer to any item of a certain type.

Example: Please hand me a nail, any nail.

But when d...

I don’t want to make you feel bad, but because so many writers handle this issue badly, I’m going to discuss the use of ‘bad’ and ‘badly’.

Let’s start with ‘badly’, which is an adverb. Roughly speaking, an adverb describes how something is done.

Example: She handled the...

The correct use of the relative pronouns “who”, “that”, and “which” relates the subject of a sentence to its object. The question of which of the three words to use in a given context confuses some writers, so here’s an explanation of their appropriate roles:

Who, Whom,...

“Who” is the subject form of the pronoun, so it’s the DOER of an action, as in “That’s the man who owns this restaurant.” (subject of “owns”). “Whom” is the object form of the pronoun, so it RECEIVES the action, as in “Whom do you like best?” (object of “like”).

Can you...

Some personal pronouns have two forms, one that is used as the subject of a verb and one that is used as the object of a verb or preposition.

Subject forms: I, he, she, we, they


My sister and I live in Texas. We raise chickens. (Subject forms)

Vi and she moved to...

Studying grammar can sometimes be overwhelming, but it’s always helpful to start with the basics.

Mistake 1: Using “whom” as a subject.

WRONG: Fire personnel radioed deputies to stop the driver, whom, according to reports, appeared to have                  been under the...

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