Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to conceive written communication. So many pairs or trios of words and phrases stymie us with their resemblance to each other. Here’s a quick guide to alleviate (or is it ameliorate?) your suffering:Read More
Filtering by Tag: Grammar
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of words in the English language that confuse writers on a daily basis. Words that sound the same, words that are spelled the same, words that have only slightly different meanings, etc.
Today’s two words are confusing because they have two different functions and meanings, yet just a single space separates them from each other.Read More
Written By: KIMBERLY JOKI
Reblogged from: http://www.grammarly.com/blog/2015/how-to-use-the-passive-voice-correctly-2/
The passive voice is a misunderstood entity in the world of writing. It is unfairly judged by many authors. Some writers, without taking the time to get to know this grammatical structure, avoid it at all costs. Others use it ineffectively because they do not understand how it works. How can you get to know this mysterious literary device?
First, let’s start with an explanation of what passive voice is. Passive voice sentences mention the thing or person receiving an action before mentioning the action itself, and may omit the actor altogether. For example, consider this sentence:
The leaves were blown by the wind.
The leaves receive the action of being blown. In the example, the agent is specified with the preposition by. However, the agent could have been left out of the sentence: The leaves were blown.
When is it proper to use passive voice? Consider these instances. Why do you suppose passive voice is appropriate? Check your answers below.
- My camera was stolen from my locker at school.
- A candle will be lit at the memorial service for the fallen soldier.
- Diets are made to be broken.
- The sodium hydroxide solution was heated to 200 degrees.
- Who stole the camera? The agent is unknown. If you do not know who committed an action, it is appropriate to use passive voice.
- Who do you want to receive the attention? If you prefer the attention to be on the action itself (the candle being lit) and not the person doing the lighting, you may omit the agent.
- You are expressing a general truth that is applicable to many. Using active voice to express this idea would be awkward: People who make diets make them to be broken.
- Researchers often use passive voice in scientific reports. It is assumed that the reader knows that the experimenters are performing the actions without stating this fact explicitly. But, according to the University of Toronto, this trend is on the decline. Recent papers tend to contain more examples of active voice.
What questions do you have about using passive voice?
Written by: Lisa J. Jackson (@lisajjackson)
Reblogged from: https://nhwn.wordpress.com/2016/02/22/grammar-ease-when-to-use-nor-or-neither/
This post is inspired from a recent reader’s comment: when do you use ‘nor’ or ‘neither’ in a sentence?
In using neither/nor construction, it’s important to keep the sentence parallel. An example:
- Incorrect: She will cook neither her apple pie nor do her laundry. [The part that follows “neither” is a noun (“her apple pie”), and the part that follows “nor” is a verb phrase (“do her laundry”) — so they aren’t parallel.]
- Correct: She will neither cook her apple pie nor do her laundry. [Both parts are now verb phrases.]
Also, it’s important to watch for verb agreement when there is a mix of singular and plural. For instance, Neither the teens nor the teacher was excited about the fire drill. (singular was for ‘teacher’) Switched around, this is also correct: Neither the teacher nor the students were excited about the fire drill. (plural were for ‘students’)
If the second part of a negative construction is a verb phrase, it’s your choice whether to use ‘nor’ or ‘or’. Both of these examples are correct:
- The coach will neither allow unsportsmanlike conduct nor consider awarding good behavior.
- The coach will neither allow unsportsmanlike conduct or consider awarding good behavior.
When using ‘neither,’ make sure there are no negative words preceding it. You would use either/or instead. For instance:
- Arnold had seen neither the grandbaby nor the grandbaby’s rattle on the couch, and was ready to enjoy a quiet evening.
- Arnold had not seen either the grandbaby or the grandbaby’s rattle on the couch, and was ready to enjoy a quiet evening.
- (it would be incorrect to say: “Arnold had not seen neither the grandbaby, northe grandbaby’s rattle…)
And to add just a little more… when you have a negative sentence with ‘not’ (instead of ‘neither’) use ‘or’ in the second part of the sentence (i.e. “Not A or B.”). Examples:
- She is not interested in Bob or Rick or Peter.
- He didn’t (did not) speak hesitantly or softly.
- They are not excited about horror or romance or comedy movies.
- She does not want apples or oranges.
- He does not enjoy walking or cycling or kayaking.
You won’t ever pair ‘either’ with ‘nor.’
You won’t see ‘nor’ without ‘neither.’
I hope that helps clarify the neither/nor topic. Happy writing!
Written by: Laura Schocker
1 I or Me after a preposition and another person
The rule: Use “Me.”
Incorrect version: “She went to the store with Sally and I.”
Correct version: She went to the store with Sally and me.
Incorrect version: “Between you and I…”
Correct version: “Between you and me…”
“I tell people to imagine the sentence with only one person because that usually makes the pronoun choice clear,” says Mignon Fogarty, creator and host of the Grammar Girl podcast on the Quick and Dirty Tips network. So think of it this way: You wouldn’t say, “She went to the store with I,” right? “Adding Sally doesn’t change anything,” Fogarty says.
2 Effect versus Affect
The rule: Effect is usually a noun, while affect is typically an verb.
Incorrect version: “The book really effected me.”
Correct version: “The book really affected me.”
Incorrect version: “The book had an affect on me.”
Correct version: “The book had an effect on me.”
“Mixing up ‘affect’ and ‘effect’ is one of the most common errors because not only do they sound alike, but they also have similar meanings,” Fogarty says. There are exceptions (such as “to effect change” or “a baffled affect”), but most of the time affect is a verb and effect is a noun, says Mary Norris, a pageOK’er at The New Yorker magazine and the author of Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen ($15, amazon.com).
3 Further versus Farther
The rule: Farther refers to an actual distance, while further should be used for a figurative distance.
Incorrect version: “Macy’s is further away than Nordstrom.”
Correct version: “Macy’s is farther away than Nordstrom.”
“The traditional American thinking is that "farther" is for physical distance (e.g., "Macy's is farther than Nordstrom") and "further" is for figurative distance (e.g., "Don't bother me about this further"),” Fogarty says, “but in British English, people use the two more interchangeably, so that may be a reason that American speakers have trouble remembering the difference.
4 Lie versus Lay
The rule: People lie, things lay.
Incorrect version: “I’m going to lay down for a few minutes.”
Correct version: “I’m going to lie down for a few minutes.”
“You lay an object somewhere, and you lie if you're taking action on your own,” Fogarty says. “I suspect people get confused because of the children's prayer "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep."
5 Impact as a verb
The rule: Impact is a noun, not a verb.
Incorrect version: “The story really impacted me.”
Correct version: “The story really influenced me.”
“Eek, screech, agh! Even educated people now use ‘impact,’ as a verb. I’m a purist,” Norris says. “Impact should stay a noun unless you are talking about having an impacted wisdom tooth.” She suggests saying “influence” instead.
Fogarty says she suspects the root of the issue might come back to number two—people don’t know whether to use affect or effect, so they (incorrectly) use impact instead. Her fix: “You'll almost always have a stronger sentence if you explain how it affected you instead: ‘The story changed the way I think about seahorses,’ or ‘The story made me stop what I was doing and call my mother to tell her I love her.’”
6 Fewer versus Less Than
The rule: Use fewer for countable items (with some exceptions).
Incorrect version: “There are less than three pieces of pizza left.”
Correct version: “There are fewer than three pieces of pizza left.”
“Typically, ‘fewer’ is for things you can count, and ‘less’ is for things you can't count, but time, money, and distance are exceptions to the rule,” Fogarty says. Check out her full explanation on the difference between the two words here.