After you receive your grade and read your professor’s comments you might have a lot of those “if only” thoughts. “If only I had looked up that concept.” “If only I had taken extra time to proofread that.” “If only I had read the assignment more carefully.” “If only I had started earlier and done more research.” “If only I had realized I was contradicting myself.” “If only I had re-read the class reading before starting to write.” Then suddenly the film of your life starts to run backwards. You are back 4 days before the assignment is due and have all the knowledge you have now! Fantasy, right? Not necessarily. Quite often professors will:Read More
What is a Homophone?
There are many more words in the English language than one might expect, given how similar their pronunciation and spelling can be. They're usually nouns and adjectives, except for those that function as conjunctions or contractions. Once you accept that English contains many pairs or groups of deceptively similar words with different meanings, then you will have a better understanding in sight of how to speak and cite and write the right ones.Read More
In this blog post, our resident grammar girl reviews the impossibly confusing rules for singular subjects that refer to plural groups; subject-verb agreements involving"each", "all", and "none"; and last (but not least!) "neither", "neither", and "nor" and how they relate to your verb choice. Read More
One advisory that students hear a lot, especially in earlier years of English class, is "avoid a comma splice." A comma splice is an excessive use of commas without the proper elements of a complete sentence to justify the commas. When to use a comma versus a semi-colon depends on the type of sentence you have. Below are the sentence types that call for commas.Read More
For a lot of students, parenthetical citations may seem like the bane of existence. You've just written a ten-page essay, you're happy with your argument and the conclusion you thought of in the middle of the night before it was due to submit, but you still have to check all the quotes. Especially in today's digital age, in which reading and copying text from countless sources is as easy as the touch of a button, the importance of correctly citing sources has grown, along with the potential consequences of neglecting to do so.Read More
Tags: expository writing
Research papers are a staple of many high school and college history classes, and indeed are miniature versions of the work real historians do. If you’re a history nerd like me, nothing excites quite like historical research.Read More
Tags: expository writing
They may seem small, but punctuation marks can make all the difference in how we read and understand the English language. The title of what has become an iconic little book, Eats, Shoots & Leaves, exemplifies the level of ambiguity that can result from the presence or absence of a comma. This chapter focuses on several oft-mistaken categories of punctuation marks – the comma, the semi-colon, the apostrophe, quotation marks – and how, when, and where to use them properly.Read More
"I could care less where we go to dinner."
"It was really unique."
"Between you and I, that movie wasn't very good."
To many, there is nothing unusual about the statements above. Indeed, most of us use some variation of them frequently. But to a grammarian or someone with a depth of knowledge about the rules of English, these utterances can be cringe inducing. They sound good, but they are grammatically or semantically incorrect.Read More
This has happened to all of us in high school, in college, even in graduate school. You did the reading but then the questions the instructor asks don’t make sense to you or you can’t answer questions about details she seems to think you should know.Read More
The first few months after my college graduation, I began my 9-5 job and was disappointed by how much less time I had to read. After majoring in English and becoming accustomed to finishing multiple novels a week during the semester, I wished that I could dedicate more time to that hobby. Furthermore, after a few months of working 40-hour weeks, I fell out of my writing groove, and it became difficult to draft anything more creative than a work email with the same alacrity I once possessed. Noticing that my reading and writing skills had begun to rust, I attempted to find ways to reclaim my affinity for language. Below are five recommendations for doing so; whether you are in high school, college, graduate school, or the working world, hopefully, these tips will help hone and maintain your verbal skills.Read More