Articles about correct grammar
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 »
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.Read More »
One of the biggest problems that creative people face is how to take their imagined ideas and communicate them clearly and effectively in writing. I dread to think how many incredible adventures, concepts, and viewpoints are locked up in the brains of people who struggle with the technical elements of writing. The part of the brain that we use for imaginative thinking is quite different from the part that actually crafts the sentences. And the quickest way to lose a reader’s confidence—even if your ideas are water-tight—is to present them with clumsy, awkward, error-filled writing.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 »
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?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 »
Danny Mancini is part of the team at Penguin Random House The Writers’ Academy. They excel at helping aspiring writers to hone their craft and sharpen up their writing technique. Whether you've been writing fiction for a long time or are completely new to the process, there are a number of common writing mistakes that all authors should be wary of.
So if you're struggling from a case of writer's block, or wondering what's blocking you on the path to publication, read on below to ensure that you're not making any of these fatal writing errors...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)
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 »
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 »
The Grammar Check is similar to the grammar and spelling checkers that you have probably used in within your word processor. It highlights any word that’s not in our dictionary in case it’s misspelled. It also looks at the construction of the sentence to make sure that the structure, punctuation and tense are correct.
But, in addition to these standard grammar checks, our team of copyeditors have been inputting thousands of specific checks that they have come across in their years of editing. Our goal over the next couple of years is to have a simple explanation associated with every grammar issue that the software picks up.Read More »
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 »
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 »
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.
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 »
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