Good Grammar

Why you’ll never starve at the beach

Posted by on Feb 27, 2012 in Good Grammar | 0 comments

It’s all due to a certain type of adjectival clause, or a clause that modifies a noun, such as “my tanning butter, which has sand in it,” or “the merman that got away.” (If this sounds like a dry topic, well, we are talking about the beach.) Frequently, an adjectival clause begins with either that or which, and quite often, people use which simply because it sounds better. The choice actually depends upon whether the adjectival clause is restrictive or nonrestrictive. A restrictive clause is needed to define the noun, while a nonrestrictive clause adds information that’s nice to know but not necessary. If you can delete the clause...

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“i before e” and “e before g”

Posted by on Feb 14, 2012 in Good Grammar | 0 comments

These handy Latin abbreviations—i.e. and e.g.—are frequently misused. Either the wrong one is chosen, or the right one is used but is not formatted correctly. These guidelines will help you abbreviate with confidence. i.e. is the abbreviation for “id est” or “that is.” e.g. is the abbreviation for “exempli gratia” or “for example.” Use i.e. when you want to define a word or phrase; think of it as a substitute for “in other words.” Use e.g. to give one or more examples of a word or phrase. He went to the store for provisions, i.e., supplies. He went to the store for provisions, e.g., food, water and...

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Special effects

Posted by on Jan 15, 2012 in Good Grammar | 0 comments

If you are unsure about whether to use affect or effect in a sentence, there’s a simple way to decide. It’s not foolproof, but in most cases, affect is used as a verb (to influence or make a change in), while effect is a noun (a result—think “special effects”). But this being the English language, there are exceptions. Affect (with the accent on the first syllable) can be used as a noun (display of emotion), but this is rare and typically found only in discussions of psychology. More commonly, effect can be used as a verb (to achieve or bring about, as a change). Still, in most instances, you can be confident you’re using the correct...

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For who the bell tolls

Posted by on Dec 13, 2011 in Good Grammar | 0 comments

For who the bell tolls? It just doesn’t have the right ring to it, does it? And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. John Donne had it right when he wrote these lines in 1624. Today, in everyday conversation, even I often say “who” when I mean “whom:” “Who is this for?” But when you write, you still need to make the distinction between who and whom. The choice comes down to a matter of case, and case is determined by how a word functions in your sentence. Who is in the subjective case, meaning it is the actor. Who does something. Whom is in the objective case, meaning it is the object of the...

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Their, there now.

Posted by on Nov 27, 2011 in Good Grammar | 0 comments

Or is it “they’re there”? They’re, there and their are homonyms: they sound alike but have different meanings and spellings. How do you keep them straight? (Or is it strait?) Consider how the word is being used and think about what can be substituted for it. This will guide you as you’re spelling. They’re: the contraction of “they are.” If you can substitute “they are” in your sentence, use “they’re.” There: either a place (“We went there.”) or a pronoun that stands in for an ensuing noun (“There is a reason.”). If you can substitute “here” and your sentence...

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