Grammar Slammer

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

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.

Making friends with the semicolon

September 14, 2012
Semicolons are often misused, inspiring both love and hate from professional wordsmiths. But with a proper understanding of their purpose, they can be­­come one of your favorite punctuation marks.

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.”

Use a checklist to catch errors

April 1, 2012
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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”: