Monday: Pronoun

Grammar Tidbit

We all know what a noun is, right? Person, place, thing or idea. How about a pronoun? A word that takes the place of a noun. These are usually the first questions posed us in a grammar course, and people seem very comfortable with the definitions. When it comes to execution, though, there’s still a problem. People seem to be terrified to punctuate a plural possessive (s’) but are only too eager to add an apostrophe to words that don’t call for it.

I used to get very depressed by this…you know, very “Where’s my tanto,” but not anymore! Now I unsheathe my wakizashi and kill the offending error with Neeson-level stoicism. (I’m short, so a katana would be very unwieldy. Ha! See that? Samurai joke.)

Today, we’re going to talk about possessive pronouns. Here’s the rule:

Don’t use an apostrophe.

The thing is, a lot of pronouns are already built to be possessive. For him and her, or he and she, we have his and hers. No apostrophe!


Their dog is white.

Where would you even put an apostrophe there?

If you have questions, please post below!

Monday: Semicolon

Grammar Tidbit

Only the semicolon comes close to the comma’s record of misuse and abuse; in fact, the semicolon is often what the misused comma should have been. According to Purdue OWL, semicolons are necessary in three instances:

1. To join 2 independent clauses when the second clause restates the first or when the two clauses are of equal emphasis.

  • Road construction in Dallas has hindered travel around town; streets have become covered with bulldozers, trucks, and cones.

2. To join 2 independent clauses when the second clause begins with a conjunctive adverb (however, therefore, moreover, furthermore, thus, meanwhile, nonetheless, otherwise) or a transition (in fact, for example, that is, for instance, in addition, in other words, on the other hand, even so).

  • Terrorism in the United States has become a recent concern; in fact, the concern for America’s safety has led to an awareness of global terrorism.

3. To join elements of a series when individual items of the series already include commas.

  • Recent sites of the Olympic Games include Athens, Greece; Salt Lake City, Utah; Sydney, Australia; Nagano, Japan.


Enter questions below!

Monday: Clause

Grammar TidbitAccording to Merriam-Webster, a clause is “a group of words containing a subject and a predicate and functioning as a member of a complex or compound sentence.” Clauses come in two pretty packages: the dependent and the  independent.

An independent clause, or, “a group of words that contains a subject and predicate and expresses a complete thought,” is what is usually called a sentence. (We Grammarphiles say “independent clause” to be popular at parties.) This type of clause is the go-to car with a full gas tank; it can take you all the way to your destination.

A dependent clause is “a group of words that contains a subject and verb but does not express a complete thought.” Therefore, a dependent clause cannot be a sentence. This clause is…well, one of these. Don’t get the wrong idea: dependent clauses are not bad—they just cannot stand alone.

Why Writers Should Know This:

The only time an editor will pay attention to your dependent clauses is when you try to pass one off as a complete thought (read: sentence), like so:

When Jim was riding his bike.

Monday: Em- and En-Dash

Grammar Tidbit

Em-Dashes and En-Dashes get their names from the length of dash they represent.

An Em-Dash (—) is the same length as the lower-case m. Just to be sure, let’s compare them:

| — |

| m |

An Em-Dash is used for emphasis, an interruption, or an abrupt change of thought.

He was the killer—Annabelle’s killer—and we never knew.

Put it here—on a coaster.

“Will you take out—” “I already did.”

I wonder if Lizzie—what’s for lunch?

An En-Dash is the same length as the lower-case n. Here’s the comparison:


| n |

An En-Dash is used as a substitute for the word “to” in time to time instances. It is also used in place of a hyphen with open compounds.

The Spring Set runs AprilJune.

The hermit lives on the AdamsJefferson County border.

If you have questions, please post below!



This Is Why You Need Me.

Is there anything better than a rejection letter with a typo?

“We chose someone we think better suites the position.”

Let’s play “Find the Typo!”

(This letter was for my friend; she had me read it to her because her hands were full. I read it quietly to myself at first, then when I read it aloud to her, I noticed the typo. She had interviewed for a clerical position. Many lulz were had.)

Spell-Check is Evil.

Don’t trust it. Really. If you are uncomfortable with things like effect/affect, roll/role, or there/their/they’re, you should not trust any spell-check program to do an editor’s work for you. Here’s my no-need-for-further-explanation argument:

While reading a blog post about how best to employ self-editing techniques, one of the sub-headings was “Be Tough.” Another was “Be Fare.”

As in cab fare.

Since “fare” is a word, this went completely unnoticed by the author. Anything I’d just learned in the post was thrown into question–does this person actually know the difference between fair and fare? Is it that this post didn’t matter to the author, and so clicking spell-check was the only “editing” done? Is my precious time not worth a reread?

This author could have published this after ninety readings–who can know? Just remember that a properly spelled word is not always the proper word.

Thank goodness this was only a blog post! Can you imagine having a misspelled tattoo?