Thursday, May 15, 2008

Too long

Well, it's been forever since my last post, I know. College will do that to you.

If you or anyone you know has any grammar questions, leave a comment! Send me all your questions, and I will answer.

Friday, July 6, 2007

A word about e-mail

Today’s society is all about instant gratification, and e-mail has made communication that much quicker. Don’t get me wrong, e-mail is great – I love e-mail – but there is one pitfall.

AIM (AOL Instant Messanger) has helped to cripple the youth of our nation, grammatically (and socially). People get used to saying ‘brb’ instead of ‘be right back’ and about a thousand other shorthand slang phrases. This makes for a very bad habbit.

People get used to communicating in this shorthand way (it’s hilarious to listen when people talk like they type!), and it creeps into the should-be-more-professional areas of their lives.

This may not seem like a big deal to you, but it really is a huge problem. You should not, under any circumstances, use shorthand when communicating with a boss, potential employer, or even a professor. E-mail is just a letter sent electronically, but people think that they don’t need to sound professional in such communications – WRONG!

ALWAYS use proper format for your e-mails, meaning: heading, body, closing. Always use a respectful greeting and include the appropriate title (Dr. for many professors). Always proofread your work before you hit send – you make more mistakes than you think.

You want to sound like an intelligent human being, not a young person gabbing with some friends on the internet.

Monday, June 25, 2007


This topic confuses a lot of people…almost everyone that I’ve talked to, but it doesn’t need to be so difficult. This is one of the rules of grammar that I never truly understood until I tool a Precision Language course in college. When I finally understood the concept, I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t understood it sooner! I’ll try to make this easy, so that you will never ask yourself again, “Is it who or whom?”

Both words (who and whom) are pronouns (leave a comment if I should explain the parts of a sentence, such as pronouns). The difference lies in their functions.

WHO – subjective pronoun (fancy way to say subject)
WHOM – objective pronoun (the objective of something else, such as a preposition)

WHO ate all the ice cream?
(WHO is the subject of the sentence)
To WHOM should I give the bill?
(WHOM is the object of the preposition ‘to’)

The who/whom dilemma is the same as the difference between he/him and she/her. Let me show you:

HE told me that SHE ate all the ice cream.
(HE and SHE are both the subject of a verb)
I saw HIM last night, and he said to send the bill to HER.
(HIM is the direct object of the verb; HER is the object of the preposition.

I hope that helps!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Grade school vs. AP Style

I have written briefly (very briefly) about a few of the differences between what we learned about grammar in school and what AP Style dictates. I would like to share a little bit more about this topic. (I apologize now if this gets a little random or starts to sound like a rant.)

My topic for today is capitalization in titles/headlines. I always was taught that you should capitalize the first letter of every word in a title, excluding articles (a, an, the – unless it is the first word in the title) and prepositions (to, of, etc.). AP Style says that you should only capitalize the first letter of the first word in the title. Let me give you an example to show you the difference in a clear and concise manner:

A Story Told by a Blind Man (how I learned it)
A story told by a blind man (AP Style)

Why does AP Style have to change all of the rules that we had to learn and relearn every year? I don’t know, and it upsets me just as much as it upsets you! I really am happy using the rules that I have been using for the past 15 years, but I follow AP when necessary (online). I suggest you do the same (or risk looking outdated and uneducated).

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Today I am going to talk briefly about proofreading.

It is a must to check over any document you write, ALWAYS! Yio don’t want to let a silly mi steak like this to show up in you’re research paper. (You can laugh at that.)

Don’t rely on spell-check to catch everything, because it can’t think. You could use the wrong word or misspell a word, but spell-check won’t catch it if what you typed is a word.

If it is an important paper, you might want to ask someone else to glance over it. Don’t be shy! When you proofread your own work, your brain may not recognize any errors that may exist. This is because you wrote the paper, and you know what it is supposed to say. It is definitely a good idea to ask a second pair of eyes to take a look.

I’ll add here sneakily that I can proofread your work, and my pricing is negotiable. Just leave a comment with your e-mail address and I will contact you.

Okay, if you really want to proof your own work, try to leave a buffer between writing it and editing it. As I mentioned earlier, you know what you meant to say, but others reading it may not. If you put it away for a while and look at it with fresh eyes, you will be more likely to catch your mistakes. You can also try starting from the last page and read in reverse (still left to right, top to bottom, just last to first).

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Less vs. fewer

Micro-lesson for today: Less vs. Fewer!

I know, you’re thinking that this is a little over-the-top, and that these words are interchangeable… well, they aren’t. Since I’m sure you already know the definition, I will just define the difference in how these words should be used:

LESS – use when you can’t count the number of items (qualities and liquids)
FEWER – use when you can count the number of items

I wish she would pay LESS attention to Luke and more to me.
Today, I drank LESS water than I usually do.
I have had FEWER car accidents than you!

Do you know why these are correct?

I have LESS money in the bank than I had hoped I would have by now.
I keep FEWER coins in my purse than before, because they were getting too heavy.

Want to quiz yourself? Here are a few for you to try:

I wish I had eaten LESS/FEWER candy bars.
I wish I had eaten LESS/FEWER ice cream.
It rains in Spain LESS/FEWER than it does in England.
I have LESS/FEWER time than I need to finish my homework.
I will accept ten applications – no more, no LESS/FEWER.

Here are the answers (in reverse):
Fewer, less, less, less, fewer

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


This common mistake can really either make you sound totally uneducated or way sophisticated. It is the infamous lay vs. lie. I never understood the difference until I took a Precision Language course in college, and now I cringe every time someone uses these incorrectly.

Rather than giving you the definitions of these words, I’m going to show you the differences:
LAY – done to an object
LIE – done by the subject

Please LAY your paperwork down on the table. (The subject is doing something to something else – there is a direct object.)
I’m going to LIE down for a nap. (The subject is doing the action – no direct object.)

INCORRECT: I’m going to lay out at the pool for a few hours.

See if you can spot the mistakes in this excerpt from Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol:

If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me…

These lyrics should read:

If I LIE here
If I just LIE here
Would you lie with me (they used it correctly :)

Another common problem with these words is that their past tenses and past participles get confused. Let me clear it up for you:

LAY – LAID (past tense) – LAID (past participle)
LIE – LAY (past tense) – LAIN (past participle)

Have you seen my earrings? I LAID them on the table.
Yesterday, I LAY down for a nap.
I HAD LAID my purse on the counter, but now I can’t find it.
I WOULD HAVE LAIN down for a nap, but I was too busy.

NEVER say that someone HAS BEEN LAIN TO REST.

Good luck with this one! It can be hard to remember at first, but once you master it you will sound educated and intelligent.