Grammar Slammer

Punctuation, usage, spelling … the Grammar Slammer is keeping an eye on the way we use (and misuse!) the written word.

Weird Al’s ‘Word Crimes’–how many are you committing?

February 27, 2015
Weird Al Yankovic made grammar funny with his “Word Crimes” parody of Robin Thicke’s hit song “Blurred Lines” and its accompanying video. Weird Al brought up some good grammar points that are important for everyone to remember.

What’s wrong with these sentences?

January 28, 2015
Correct any punctuation errors in the following sentences. Caution: Some sentences may already be correct, so don’t be fooled.

When is it OK to break grammar rules?

December 8, 2014
Getting your words right makes a good impression, but part of knowing the rules means knowing when it’s OK to break them. Lin­­guist Steven Pinker, writing in The Guardian, offers eight grammar rules that you can bend once in a while.

Banish unnecessary prepositions

August 26, 2014
Many writers develop their own quirks and styles over time, and it’s possible to identify their writing just by the words and phrases they use. One common style quirk is using prepositions too much, especially the word “of,” says Grammar Girl blogger Mignon Fogarty. “Overusing it can make your writing sound passive and fussy.”

Quiz: Do you misuse these phrases?

August 13, 2014
Many misused words and phrases have be­­come so common they’re now in­­cluded in some dictionaries, but they once had correct usages. Here’s a list of phrases you might be saying wrong.

Follow 3 rules for quotation marks

May 14, 2014
Quotation marks are an important part of your writing, but are you using them correctly with other punctuation? There are some potentially confusing rules, but you need to get them right to make sure people understand what you’re saying.

Appositives and the comma conundrum

May 22, 2013
Plenty of people find themselves wondering if they’re using commas correctly, or worse, unknowingly using them incorrectly. No need to fear, though. “Grammar Girl” Mignon Fogarty has some grammar reminders to help you become more comma-savvy.

Acronyms and abbreviations

December 11, 2012

Acronyms and abbreviations are a great way to tighten up your writing and save yourself some keystrokes, but they’re only clear to insiders who use them on a regular basis. Good writers are careful to follow these rules for using acronyms and abbreviations.

Are double words allowed?

November 20, 2012

Microsoft Word’s grammar check alerts you when you repeat a word, but is repeating a word always wrong? Bonnie Trenga, author of The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier, says no. Here are several examples to illustrate when it’s perfectly fine to repeat a word.

Sentence beginnings and endings

May 15, 2012

What’s the rule on these four sentence-starting and -stopping strategies? 1. Starting a sentence with “and” or “but.” 2. Launching a sentence with “There is” or “There are.” 3. Ending a sentence with a preposition. 4. Starting a sentence with “how­­ever.”