Grammar Rules

Future Perfect? Past Continuous? What are All the Verb Tenses?

by ProWritingAid Sep 14, 2016

Future Perfect? Past Continuous? What are All the Verb Tenses?

Much like the specters Scrooge faced in A Christmas Carol, writers face 3 different verb tenses when constructing sentences: Past, Present, and Future.

Just like the Ghost of Christmas Past, a past tense verb refers to something that has already happened. The most commonly used verb tense is present, which talks about what’s going on right at this very moment. And the final, future tense tells us what might or will happen in the future. But that's not where it ends. There are three additional ways to talk about past, present, and future tense verbs: Continuous, Perfect, and Perfect Continuous. Sometimes referred to as aspects rather than tenses, these tell us about an action that happens once or repeatedly and if it’s completed or still continuing

Read More »

What are Word Classes?

by ProWritingAid Aug 31, 2016

What are Word Classes?

Word classes are parts of speech. They’re the building blocks that form every sentence ever uttered. They are categorized by the role they play in your sentences.

Everyone agrees on the following four main word classes: 1. Noun 2. Verb 3. Adjective 4. Adverb

There are varying opinions as to whether the following five categories are word classes or word forms. So we went straight to the experts: the Oxford and Cambridge Dictionaries. Per these two highly learned sources, the following are considered word classes also:

  1. Pronoun (e.g. I, you, me, we, mine, someone, he, she)
  2. Preposition (e.g. at, in, on, across, behind, for)

Read More »

Are Your Adjectives Powerful?

by ProWritingAid Aug 02, 2016

Are Your Adjectives Powerful?

An adjective is a word that names an attribute of a noun. Some are strong and paint clear, specific pictures of the thing they are describing. Some are weak and vague and don’t tell us much. Let’s start with an example...

Read More »

Infographic: What are Homophones, Homographs, and Homonyms?

by ProWritingAid Jul 27, 2016

Infographic: What are Homophones, Homographs, and Homonyms?

Check out this great infographic to understand the difference between a homophone, a homograph and a homonym.

Read More »

When Do I Need to Hyphenate?

by ProWritingAid Jul 06, 2016

When Do I Need to Hyphenate?

Depending on who you subscribe to, you may hear some very different ideas concerning when and how to hyphenate. We’re here to set the record straight:

When in doubt, look it up.

Yep. This is the one form of punctuation that you’re best off looking up if you’re unsure. And another complication is that various style manuals conform to different rules. Add to that the state of fluctuation around certain words that can either be hyphenated, two separate words, or written together as one. Click through for some practical examples.

Read More »

How to Write Dialogue in a Narrative Paragraph

by ProWritingAid Jun 23, 2016

How to Write Dialogue in a Narrative Paragraph

The Chicago Manual of Style, putting dialogue in the middle of paragraphs depends on the context. As in the above example, if the dialogue is a natural continuation of the sentences that come before, it can be included in your paragraph. The major caveat is if someone new speaks after that, you start a new paragraph and indent it.

On the other hand, if the dialogue you’re writing departs from the sentences that come before it, you should start a new paragraph and indent the dialogue.

Read More »

What is a Subordinate Clause

by ProWritingAid Jun 20, 2016

What is a Subordinate Clause

Firstly, a clause is a group of words that contain both a subject and a verb like: She ran to answer the phone.

A subordinate clause depends on a main clause to form a complete sentence or thought like: ...because she could hear ringing in the other room

Read More »

Where Does Punctuation Go in Dialogue?

by ProWritingAid Jun 08, 2016

Where Does Punctuation Go in Dialogue?

Dialogue is a fantastic way to bring your readers into the midst of the action. They can picture the main character talking to someone in their mind’s eye, and it gives them a glimpse into how your character interacts with others.

That said, dialogue is hard to punctuate, especially since there are different rules for different punctuation marks—because nothing in English grammar is ever easy, right? We’re going to try to make this as easy as possible.

Read More »

10 Websites to Help Improve Your Grammar

by ProWritingAid Jun 06, 2016

10 Websites to Help Improve Your Grammar Grammar is an essential part of writing, as it helps to convey the message or idea you are trying to get across. That being said, most writers might agree that their grammar skills could use a little freshening up from time to time. Luckily there are various websites that exist strictly for the purpose of improving one’s grammar. The ProWritingAid blog is a great place to start, but we also recommend the following sites.

Read More »

How Do You Find and Get Rid of Redundant Adverbs?

by ProWritingAid May 25, 2016

How Do You Find and Get Rid of Redundant Adverbs?

An adverb is redundant if you use it to modify a verb with the same meaning in its definition. Read more about how redundant adverbs clutter up your writing and how to get rid of them.

Read More »

Why We Love the Oxford Comma

by ProWritingAid May 09, 2016

Why We Love the Oxford Comma

What is the Oxford comma? And why is there so much debate around whether it should be used? ProWritingAid advocates a nuanced approach to the Oxford comma depending on the clarity of the sentence.

Read More »

What is Passive Voice and How Do I Make It Active?

by ProWritingAid Apr 22, 2016

What is Passive Voice and How Do I Make It Active?

Passive voice occurs when you take the object of your sentence—the part that the action happens to—and make it the subject of your sentence.

Here are some examples:

  • Passive: The flag was raised by the troops.

  • Active: The troops raised the flag.

Read More »

What are simple, compound, and complex sentences?

by ProWritingAid Apr 15, 2016

What are simple, compound, and complex sentences?

One thing that ProWritingAid is great at pointing out is the variety of sentence lengths you use in your writing. You know that varying the lengths creates a more lyrical bend to your writing. You don’t want all short sentences. Nor do you want all long sentences that complicate your reader’s understanding.

Simple, compound, and complex sentences are all ways of varying the length. Let’s see how they work.

Read More »

5 Ways to Develop an “Ear” for English Grammar

by Saga Briggs Mar 08, 2016

5 Ways to Develop an “Ear” for English Grammar

Most forms of English instruction emphasise rules and memorisation; however, I recommend a more instinctual method of mastery. Rather than mapping out sentences or memorising confusing and often inconsistent rules, you can improve your communication skills by simply tapping into the logic of rhythm and structure.

Let’s take a look at five ways you can start tuning your ear:

Read More »

What’s Wrong with an “ly” Adverb After a Dialogue Tag?

by ProWritingAid Mar 04, 2016

What’s Wrong with an “ly” Adverb After a Dialogue Tag?

When you paint a picture with your character’s actions instead of using an “ly” adverb to try to set the mood, you give your reader a much deeper understanding and pull him or her closer into the drama.

It all comes down to “He said, She said” eventually. Professional editors and authors agree that you want your dialogue tags to be invisible to the reader so that it doesn’t slow him or her down or bring notice to the writing itself.

Read More »

Past…Present…What are Participles?

by ProWritingAid Mar 02, 2016

Past…Present…What are Participles?

Sometimes verbs get confusing, so here’s a little trick to help you figure out participles:

Participles, both past and present, are verb forms that can be used as an adjective or a noun.

Take a common verb like jump. It can be used as a noun as in:

  • Jumping over the hedgerows is exhausting.

Read More »

What Are Infinitives? And Can We Split Them or Not?

by ProWritingAid Feb 24, 2016

What Are Infinitives? And Can We Split Them or Not?

Infinitives are verbs preceded by the word “to” that function as nouns, adjectives, or adverbs in a sentence. An infinitive does not function as a verb. This means you can never add s, es, ed, or ing to the end.

Read More »

What are the Different Verb Tenses?

by ProWritingAid Feb 12, 2016

What are the Different Verb Tenses?

Much like the three Christmas spirits from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, verbs come in three tenses: past, present, and future. These are called the simple tenses, and they’re fairly straight forward.

Read More »

What is a Clause Anyway?

by ProWritingAid Feb 08, 2016

What is a Clause Anyway?

A clause is a group of words containing both a subject and a verb. Examples of clauses are:

  • The bells are ringing

  • She ran away

Read More »

What are Phonemes, Graphemes, and Digraphs?

by ProWritingAid Feb 08, 2016

What are Phonemes, Graphemes, and Digraphs?

Each sound that you hear in a word is a Phoneme. It’s the smallest unit of sound that makes up a complete word. This is not to be confused with the letter itself; Phonemes are only the sounds made.

There are 44 Phonemes in the English language, consisting of 24 consonant sounds and 20 vowel sounds. Think of the different combinations of consonants and vowels (like “ch” or “ea”) that make unique sounds.

Read More »