You don't want to send an overworked and underpaid editor a manuscript with glaring grammar and punctuation errors. Especially if the editor decides whether your piece runs or not. Send in a poorly edited piece, and you will end up in the slush pile. No editor has time for drastic rewrites.Read More »
How do you build the past progressive tense? Simply use the "to be" helping verb in the past tense and add on the present participle of the verb with an "-ing" on the end.
If this sounds complicated, it's actually not. Here are some examples:Read More »
Auto-antonyms are words with multiple meanings of which one contradicts or reverses another. What, you say, how can that be? Let's go through a couple examples.Read More »
Well, it depends on which side of the pond you're on.
If you're American, license is both a noun and a verb, and licence is not used at all.
If you're anywhere else speaking English, licence is the noun meaning a permit from an authority figure to do something particular, like driving, and license is the verb form.Read More »
When to use "affect" or "effect" is so confusing that people are switching to "impact" to use in its place.
Never fear—it's not difficult to use "affect" and "effect" properly. Here is what you need to know:Read More »
ProWritingAid's sentence length check is one of the most important reports I use for every piece of writing. I have a tendency to write long, flowing sentences that meander around, trying to connect numerous ideas together that perhaps don't belong. (The latter sentence a case in point.)
But did you know that's not a technical run-on sentence? It's more of a run-off-at-the-mouth sentence.Read More »
How many times have you written a sentence using a gender-neutral antecedent (the word a pronoun replaces) and stumbled? Which pronoun do you use—he or she?The student may borrow whichever book he (or she?) needs. The Traditional SolutionRead More »
Do you use "which" and "that" as interchangeable words in sentences because they mean the same?
That couldn't be further from the truth. We're here to help you determine when to use each word.Read More »
How you format dialogue is a matter of style rather than a rule. There are a few guidelines, however, that make dialogue easier for your reader to follow. And we want our work to be easy to read.
Some novelists like Cormac McCarthy do their own thing with dialogue. For example, McCarthy doesn’t use quotation marks, which is his style of choice. Most of us need to follow our publishing house’s rules, or at least accepted standards. Here are 3 unequivocal standards for starting new paragraphs in dialogue.Read More »
You want clear, concise writing, so make every word count. Cut out extraneous words, especially “that,” taking up space without adding value. This practical post is full of examples where the word "that" could be cut, and other times when it should be included for clarity.Read More »
We know that a singular subject goes with a singular verb, and a plural subject goes with a plural verb. This is fairly straight forward and won’t throw most people off balance.
There are some instances, however, when you might confuse what is the actual subject of the sentence and choose the wrong verb.Read More »
To italicize or underline. That is the question. How do you handle the titles of magazines, books, newspapers, academic journals, films, television shows, long poems, plays, operas, works of art like paintings and sculptures, music albums, etc.?Read More »
Inner dialogue is an excellent way to give your readers a peek inside the heart and mind of your characters. Readers can’t get this depth of character strictly from the actions you include in your story. You should give them inner thoughts to create 3-D characters with which your readers will fall in love.
The bad news is that there is no hard and fast rule about formatting inner dialogue. Depending on which author, editor, or publisher you talk to, there are as many ways to handle inner dialogue as there are people writing it.Read More »
Are you aware of these three little lines and how they’re used in punctuation?
Let’s talk a little more about each.Read More »
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 continuingRead More »
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:
- Pronoun (e.g. I, you, me, we, mine, someone, he, she)
- Preposition (e.g. at, in, on, across, behind, for)
Check out this great infographic to understand the difference between a homophone, a homograph and a homonym.Read More »
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 »
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