Grammar Rules

Than vs. Then

by Hayley Milliman Apr 20, 2018

Than vs. Then

"Then" and "than" are two pesky words that sound alike but have very different meanings. We explore when to use each term.

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Using Adverbs: An Easy Guide

by Kathy Edens Mar 28, 2018

Using Adverbs: An Easy Guide

Here’s the truth about adverbs. They aren’t inherently good or bad: it’s all in how you use them. Let’s unpack when you should—and shouldn’t—use adverbs.

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Does Your Writing Need a Paramedic?

by Dr. Marlene Caroselli Mar 14, 2018

Does Your Writing Need a Paramedic?

The Paramedic Method aims to help writers learn to write more concisely, persuasively and actively. Dr. Marlene Caroselli outlines the method and sets three writing challenges. Does the Paramedic Method help you breathe life back into dead sentences? Have a go and let us know what you think!

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When it’s Right to be Wrong

by Dr. Marlene Caroselli Mar 14, 2018

When it’s Right to be Wrong

The definition of grace, as ascribed to Jacqueline Kennedy, is making others feel comfortable.

We don’t typically associate “grace” and “grammar,” but there are those occasions when it’s perfectly acceptable to be grammatically incorrect. To do otherwise may make you appear elitist.

This article looks at correct usage of pronouns and prepositions, followed by a quick glance at those instances when, grammatically speaking, it’s right to be wrong.

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It’s vs. Its: Let’s Get It Straight

by ProWritingAid Mar 06, 2018

It’s vs. Its: Let’s Get It Straight

Contractions. Possessives. When do you use an apostrophe? Follow these rules on it’s versus its and self-edit with confidence.

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Grammar Rules: Passed vs. Past

by Kathy Edens Feb 08, 2018

Grammar Rules: Passed vs. Past Homophones are fun, aren’t they? Unless they’re easily confused like "past" and "passed." What’s the difference? Let’s discuss these two homophones' difference and set the record straight.

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The Perfect Grammar Cheat Sheet [infographic]

by Lisa Lepki Feb 06, 2018

The Perfect Grammar Cheat Sheet [infographic]

This infographic provides a compact visual guide to common mistakes that writers make. Banish these grammar errors for tighter, clearer writing.

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Ensure and Insure: Aren’t They Interchangeable?

by ProWritingAid Jan 08, 2018

Ensure and Insure: Aren’t They Interchangeable? English users sometimes confuse insure with an "I" and ensure with an "E". Don’t they both mean to "make certain" or "make sure"?

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Do I Use Lay or Lie? Let's Get it Straight

by Kathy Edens Nov 03, 2017

Do I Use Lay or Lie? Let's Get it Straight

Lay and lie can trip up the most seasoned writer. Let's do a quick and dirty here so it finally makes sense.

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Grammar Rules You Should Ignore

by Kathy Edens Oct 20, 2017

Grammar Rules You Should Ignore

Some rules were made to be broken, right? There are a few grammar rules that don't hold water in today's world of tweets and conversational writing styles. Since the focus of most writing on the web is to get your reader's attention, writing in a relaxed voice is common…and necessary.

Here are 6 grammar rules you should ignore when writing for the internet masses.

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7 Grammar Rules Your Editor Wants You to Know

by ProWritingAid Sep 18, 2017

7 Grammar Rules Your Editor Wants You to Know

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.

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Know Your Tenses: Past Progressive

by ProWritingAid Aug 02, 2017

Know Your Tenses: Past Progressive

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:

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What the Heck are Auto-Antonyms? And Why Should You Worry About Them?

by ProWritingAid Jul 21, 2017

What the Heck are Auto-Antonyms? And Why Should You Worry About Them?

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.

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Licence vs. License: Which One is Right?

by ProWritingAid Jun 28, 2017

Licence vs. License: Which One is Right?

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.

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Affect vs. Effect: When to use each

by ProWritingAid Jun 12, 2017

Affect vs. Effect: When to use each

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:

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Wrestling Run-On Sentences Into Shape

by Kathy Edens May 26, 2017

Wrestling Run-On Sentences Into Shape

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.

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Gender Neutral Pronoun Consistency—Is This Still a Thing?

by ProWritingAid Apr 10, 2017

Gender Neutral Pronoun Consistency—Is This Still a Thing? 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 Solution

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Hyphenation: When Nouns Become Adjectives

by ProWritingAid Feb 20, 2017

Hyphenation: When Nouns Become Adjectives

Compound adjectives are made up of a combination of noun plus adjective, noun plus participle, or adjective plus participle. More often than not, these are hyphenated. Let’s look at a few.

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"Which" or "That": Know When to Use Each

by ProWritingAid Jan 25, 2017

"Which" or "That": Know When to Use Each

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.

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Should Dialogue Stand Alone?

by ProWritingAid Dec 27, 2016

Should Dialogue Stand Alone?

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.

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