Monday: Tidbit

Grammar TidbitIf you care to be grammatical with “like” and “as though,” remember this mini-rule: Like a Pig, As Though I Were a Pig.

What does this mean?

The word “like” requires a noun or pronoun. Like a boss, like a llama, like an idiot . . . you get it.

The phrases “as if,” “as though,” and the like (don’t hit me) require a verb of some kind. As if I were a king, as though I were a llama, as if the idiot became wise.

This page is very helpful.

Have a grammar peeve you’d like others to finally learn? Send your tidbit, name, and web-space to!


Monday: Tidbit

Grammar Tidbit

There is no absolute rule in English, and this is the only absolute rule. Did I just blow your mind? Well stay tuned, ‘cos I’m about to do it again: you can use apostrophes to pluralize some things!

I can tell by your expression that you think I am pulling your leg. Nope. That’s not me.

Use apostrophe-s’s to pluralize lowercase letters. For example: Use apostrophe-s’s to pluralize lowercase letters.

Use apostrophe-s’s to pluralize abbreviations. For example: Make sure all the etc.’s have a period attached.

I said in this post to never pluralize nouns with an apostrophe-s. Please note that this is incomplete. I’m sorry for misinforming anyone.

Do you have a grammar tidbit you’d like others to know? Do you have a question about grammar you’d like answered simply and concisely? Send an email to!

Monday: Tidbit

Grammar Tidbit

Does your writing tend to be more formal than conversational? Even if it’s on the casual end of the style spectrum, don’t you aim to keep everything grammatically sound enough to clearly convey your messages?

Sometimes we write the way we speak, whether that’s intentional or just the product of writing on a roll. When this happens, we can say something we don’t quite realize is confusing. Take the word “only,” for example:

I only have 100 updates because I just restored this computer.

That’s a bunch of updates! This line is almost nonsensical; it helps that there is no comma, which points us in the right direction, but in effect, the speaker is coming across as nonchalant about the number of updates. What do you mean only a hundred updates? That isn’t the message he means to convey at all!  What he means is this:

I have 100 updates only because I just restored this computer.

Now we’re understanding! See how the placement of “only” made us misconstrue the line? While this can be fine in dialogue (it is, after all, the way people speak), narrative has to be cleaner. Make sure you position “only” right where it needs to be to modify the correct idea. Otherwise, readers could make many bizarre interpretations of a very simple thought!

Have a grammar peeve you’d like others to finally learn? Send your tidbit, name, and web-space to!

Monday: Grammar Tidbit

Grammar Tidbit

I own three hundred and twenty-five Pokemon cards.

Why is twenty-five hyphenated? Why is “three hundred” left out? I don’t know. That’s just the rule. Numbers 21-99 are hyphenated, even if they’re preceded by a hundred, a thousand, or a million. So 571 is written as five hundred [and] seventy-one.

Oh, and the only Pokemon card I own now is a holographic BlastoiseI bought it at $20, and fifteen years later, it’s worth a whopping $9.99!

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!