Improving Your Grammar and Communication
What Is a Dangling Participle?
Everybody knows about dangling participles because of this funny-sounding name, but many people don't really understand the concept of dangling modifiers. Do you know a dangling participle when you write one?
Interjections are words or phrases that express emotions. You might use an interjection to express surprise (Wow!), confusion (Huh?), or outrage (No!). This list of interjections will help you understand how and when to use them correctly.
Words That Aren't Words
Some words you use every day are not really words--at least not yet. Words become official members of a vocabulary by sticking it out in common language until dictionary-makers give in. Here are a few that haven't made it yet (but some will).
Spelling Bee Tips - Submit Your Spelling Bee Tips
Who can give better spelling bee advice than the students themselves? Read tips from students and submit your own advice for future spellers!
Avoiding Passive Voice
Students hear a lot about passive voice, but sometimes it takes them awhile to understand what makes a verb passive or active. To figure this out, students must first be able to recognize the subject and the verb of a sentence.
How to Use a Thesaurus
A thesaurus can be a lifesaver, but some teachers ask students to limit their use of a thesaurus. Why? If you rely too much on a thesaurus as you write a paper, you can end up with a paper that sounds amateurish.
Have you ever read over a message you've sent or reviewed a paper you've submitted and realized you made some embarrassing and silly mistakes? Why do we only seem to notice when it's too late? These are some of those common errors you should look for (before you hit the send button)!
Here's a tip: As you read over any draft of your writing, stop on any word that has an apostrophe and do…
Your and You're
There are some grammar mistakes that really stand out and make the writer look sloppy or uneducated. Confusing you're and your is one of those embarrassing mistakes!
They're, Their, and There
Its and It's
There are some grammar mistakes that really stand out and make the writer look sloppy or uneducated. Confusing its' and its is one of those mistakes!
Sentences are made when we string words together to convey a complete thought. There are some types of sentence errors that occur more frequently than others. It's important to know the most common types of errors and to avoid them in your writing.
Rambling or run-on sentences are sentences that contain several clauses connected by coordinating conjunctions like and, or, but, yet, for, nor, and so. Find out how to recognize and fix a rambling sentence.
A sentence fragment is a statement that cannot stand alone as a sentence, even though it might look like it should be able to. A sentence fragment may be lacking a subject, a verb, or both.
The comma splice is a common error, but it is an error that is easy to identify and fix. A comma splice occurs when two independent clauses (clauses that could be sentences on their own) are jammed together with a comma.
One Word or Two?
Do you get confused by alright and all right? Should you use one word or two in your essay? Find the meanings for commonly-confused compounds and expressions we often mix up (not to be confused with mix-up).
To and Too
Many people struggle to remember the difference between to and too. But watch out! This word mix-up is one that really irritates teachers and college professors. Here's a useful tip for remembering the difference.
Spelling Test-Commonly Misspelled Words
Spelling tests are easy, right? Not so fast! Test your spelling and proofreading abilities with this short, multiple choice spelling quiz that includes commonly misspelled words. You may be surprised how difficult it can be.
Many experienced writers have to pause for a second and think when they are about to type certain words. Some words are so close to others in spelling or meaning that they cause confusion, time after time. If you study the most common problem words, you can avoid awkward mistakes in your papers.
Grammar Quiz for Confusing Words
This quiz will test your knowledge of the most commonly confused word sets. There are ten questions, and you can take the test as many times as you need to for 100%.
Confusing I and Me
"Would you like to go to lunch with John and I?" If that sentence makes you cringe and moan, you probably make a good impression when you speak.
Who and Whom
"Whom" is one of the most misunderstood and misused words in the English language. If you want to be a great communicator, you should know the rules for using who and whom.
Words to Avoid in Professional Writing
Unprofessional words can destroy your efforts when writing a research paper or resume. Yet we can get so comfortable with words that we don't realize that they are offensive or unpleasant to readers. If you want to polish your paper or resume, check over this list of unprofessional words.
Sentence Fragment Practice Sheet
Do you have trouble identifying sentence fragments? Add a few words to each fragment listed here, and you will understand the components needed to write a complete sentence.
What Is a Parenthetical Element?
A parenthetical element (an interrupter) is a word or group of words that add nonessential information to a sentence or clause. They can appear at the beginning, end, or middle of a sentence. They are punctuated with commas, parentheses, and dashes. Find examples!