Grammar Slammer

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

Quiz: Are you using the right word?

February 15, 2012
You may think you know what the following words mean, but is it possible you’re mistaken? Grammar.net’s list of “10 Com­monly Misunderstood Words in English” includes some real stumpers:

Inter vs. intra

December 14, 2011
An admin reader recently wrote, “My goodness, will you please do a piece that tells people the difference between ‘intra’ and ‘inter’? While you’re at it, ‘effect’ vs. ‘affect’ wouldn’t hurt, either.”

What’s wrong with this sentence?

October 21, 2011

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

Use one word? Or two?

September 27, 2011
Is it one word or two? Take this quiz to test your knowledge of common spelling snafus:

‘What’ did you put in quotes?

July 22, 2011
The grammar police are applying full force to the rampant misuse of quotation marks. At least one web site and The Book of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks are documenting the sometimes hilarious application of quotations in inap­propriate places. Examples of publicly posted signs:

5 grammar myths

April 15, 2011
Grammar Girl has debunked these grammar rules, saying, “Almost everyone believes at least one of these myths”:

Avoiding the slash

March 16, 2011

The slash or “/” is usually deployed when you need a quick and dirty way of saying “and” or “or.” Examples: “writer/director” and “and/or.” But, one reader asks, how do you make such phrases possessive?

Making it plural

February 9, 2011

Writers sometimes stumble over how to make words plural. Here are two tricky situations: 1. Family and brand names. 2. Decades and other numbers.

Is it first? Or is it 1st?

January 18, 2011

Which of these is correct? 1. Please book my reservation for Saturday, June 1st. 2. Please book my reservation for Saturday, June first. 3. Please book my reservation for Saturday, June 1.