Articles about grammar questions

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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10 Writing Issues that Your Grammar Checker is Missing

by Lisa Lepki May 15, 2017

10 Writing Issues that Your Grammar Checker is Missing

An editing tool checks for writing issues that go far beyond mere grammar problems.

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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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Top 10 Blog Posts of 2016

by Lisa Lepki Dec 19, 2016

Top 10 Blog Posts of 2016

Here are the posts from our blog that most resonated with our readers this year. Did your favorite make the list?

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Writing for a British Audience

by Heather Baker Nov 16, 2016

Writing for a British Audience

As someone who lives and runs a business in the UK and has travelled extensively in the US, I can tell you from first-hand experience that there’s a world of difference between the way Americans and Britons do things.

And I’m not just talking about the fact that we drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road (though, you know, obviously remember that if you decide to visit).

There’s the whole ‘s’ versus ‘z’ argument, the fact that we prefer spelling colour with a ‘u’ and grey with an ‘e’. And of course, let’s not forget about our penchant for the imperial system.

Grammar and measurements aside though, when it comes to marketing across the pond the differences are both vast and nuanced. We’re all speaking English, but that doesn’t mean it’s the same language.

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Cut “That” Out—Seriously

by ProWritingAid Oct 28, 2016

Cut “That” Out—Seriously

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.

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Do Your Subjects & Verbs Always Agree?

by ProWritingAid Oct 24, 2016

Do Your Subjects & Verbs Always Agree?

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.

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Infographic: 13 Grammar Mistakes Beautiful People Don't Make

by Rachael Lui Oct 07, 2016

Infographic: 13 Grammar Mistakes Beautiful People Don't Make

With social media and messaging apps being used daily, grammar and writing skills have taken a back seat.

These errors are transferring into resumes, emails, articles and anything you could possibly imagine. However,considering that what you write is a direct reflection on you, you do not want to come across as lazy, unintelligent or even worse, unattractive.

The question is: How can you avoid making grammar mistakes that you don’t know you’re making in the first place?

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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)

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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...

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“Show. Don’t Tell.” What do they mean?

by ProWritingAid Mar 17, 2016

“Show. Don’t Tell.” What do they mean?

You’ve heard it before, most likely from a teacher, an editor, or your agent. But Anton Chekhov said it most eloquently:

Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.

It may seem apparent when Chekhov says it, but sometimes it’s hard to put that advice into practice. There are times when your reader needs to be “told” because brevity is called for. On the other hand, no one wants to read your brain dump on every little matter.

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