#GrammarSeries – Do you say a myriad of or just myriad?

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There are a few words we still need to learn to use properly. These words are what cause arguments among grammarians and writers.

For example, is it correct to say, “The forest contains myriad species” or “The forest contains a myriad of species.” The argument is usually that myraid is an adjective equivalent to a number and since you cannot say “there are a ten thousand of species,”  you shouldn’t say, “There are a myriad of species.”

Would you be surprised if we told you that most language experts believe both ways are fine?  

Myriad was actually used as a noun in English long before it was used as an adjective, and today it’s considered both a noun and an adjective, which means it can be used with an ‘a’ before it (as a noun) or without an ‘a’ before it (as an adjective).

 

 

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#GrammarSeries – Here’s how to improve your grammar

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Learning to write good English can be a slow process. Every time you think you have written a word-perfect piece, someone points out a mistake or mistakes you just didn’t see anything wrong with. 

Not anymore, here are a few ways to improve your grammar. 

Read as much as you can

In today’s world, many people prefer reading blogs, posts on social media and chats to good books. If you want to write better, read newspapers, magazines, reports and materials in your niche area. This will give you a better understanding of grammar and how not to write. 

Avoid those slangs

We know you want to look and sound cool but those slangs will not help your written or spoken English. Be careful not to allow slangs to creep into your written work. Words such as ‘innit’ and ‘dunno’ are not considered proper English grammar, and should not find their way into formal written communications.

Find a personal/ online tutor

If your written English is pretty bad, you may need to employ the services of a teacher to help you brush up your skills or learn online. Learn about sentence structure, punctuation, proper spelling and much more.  

For online assistance you can check SpellCheckOnline.com ,  WordReference.com  or OxfordDictionaries.com 

#GrammarSeries – Apostrophes and Possessive Nouns

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Let’s admit it, the rules about forming possessives probably cause the most apostrophe confusion. They vary a little bit, depending on what type of noun you are making into a possessive.

Here are the rules with basic examples from Grammarly.

Rule 1 – For most singular nouns, add apostrophe+s:

The dog’s leash
The writer’s desk
The planet’s atmosphere

Rule 2 – For most plural nouns, add only an apostrophe:

The dogs’ leashes (multiple dogs)
The writers’ desks (multiple writers)
The planets’atmospheres (multiple planets)

Rule 3 – For plural nouns that do not end in s, add apostrophe+s:

The children’s toys
The geese’s migration route

We know that style guides vary in their recommendations of what to do when you have a singular proper noun that ends in s. Some recommend adding only an apostrophe.

Here’s an example

Charles Dickens’ novels 
Kansas’ main airport

Others say to add apostrophe+s:

Charles Dickens’s novels 
Kansas’s main airport

No matter which style guide you use, add only the apostrophe to plural proper nouns that end in s:

The Harrises’ house
The Smiths’ vacation

P.S – Use whichever style matches the style guide you use for your writing. If you don’t have a style guide, it’s OK to just pick one of the methods, as long as you don’t switch back and forth within the same document.

#GrammarSeries – Grammar mistakes you should avoid

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Grammar is truly an important part of our work as writers and the better we get with it, the better our writing will become. Although no one is perfect, it is important to keep improving. 

Grammar Girl wrote this awesome post on common grammar mistakes writers tend to make and we love it. Let us know what mistake you’d stop making from now on. 

Accidental repeats

You know that feeling of telling a friend a story and then realizing you’ve already shared it? It happens in writing, too. When you’re not paying close attention, you might repeat a phrase, a story, or a point without realizing it. One good way to catch these accidental repeats is by reading your content aloud; often your ears catch mistakes that your eyes don’t.

Empty adverbs. 

Let’s be honest. When you add “really” to a verb, what are you really adding? Is calling something “very” cold better than calling it frosty, frigid, or icy? The truth is, many common adverbs are empty. They add little or nothing to the meaning of a sentence and only clutter your copy. Cut them out.

Common misspellings. 

Most writers understand the difference between “your” and “you’re,” but it’s all too easy to accidentally type one when you mean the other, especially if your spell-check program doesn’t pick up the error. Be on guard for common misspellings such as these:

  • They’re/Their/There
  • Lose/Loose
  • It’s/Its
  • Weather/Whether

#GrammarSeries – The difference between cannot, can’t, and can not

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Hey Sparkle Writers, do you know that there is a slight difference between cannot, can’t and can not? Yes there is and we’d tell you all about it in today’s Grammar Series! 

Cannot” and “can not” might seem like they mean the same thing, but you use them in different ways. 

Cannot

“Cannot” is usually the word you want. It means “unable to” or “unwilling to” do something.

  • cannot come to rehearsal tonight.
  • Mom said I cannot have the car tomorrow.

Can Not

“Can not” is occasionally used as an alternative to the one word “cannot,” but it shows up most often when the word “not” is just part of something that comes right after “can.” For example, use “can not,” (two words) when “not” is part of a “not only… but also construction.

  • You can not only be in the play, but also choose your understudy.
  • You can not only have the car, but you can also get the car washed on your way home.‘

Can’t

“Can’t,” the contraction for “cannot,” is just a more informal replacement for the one-word form of “cannot.” 

  • Mom said I can’t have the car tomorrow.

 We trust that you get the difference now!  

#GrammarSeries – More grammar myths you need to discard!

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Last week, we started a series on Grammar Myths you need to discard and you need to check it out if you missed it. We are continuing this series with more myths every writer definitely needs to discard. Let us know which one you have held on to for so long

Myth 4

“I.e.” and “e.g.” mean the same thing. Wrong! “E.g.” means “for example,” and “i.e.” means roughly “in other words.” You use “e.g.” to provide a list of incomplete examples, and you use “i.e.” to provide a complete clarifying list or statement.

Wondering how to remember the difference between these two words? From now on, i.e., which starts with i, means “in other words,” and e.g., which starts with e, means “for example.” I = in other words. E= example.

Myth 5

You use “a” before words that start with consonants and “an” before words that start with vowels. Wrong! You use “a” before words that start with consonant sounds and “an” before words that start with vowel sounds. So, you’d write that someone has “an MBA” instead of “a MBA,” because even though “MBA” starts with M, which is a consonant, it starts with the sound of the vowel E.

Myth 6

You shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition. Wrong! You shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition when the sentence would mean the same thing if you left off the preposition. That means “Where are you at?” is wrong (or at least annoying) because “Where are you?” means the same thing. But there are many sentences where the final preposition is part of a phrasal verb or is necessary to keep from making stuffy, stilted sentences: “I’m going to throw up,” “What are you waiting for” are just a few examples.

#GrammarSeries – Grammar myths you need to get rid of

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Hey Sparkle Writers! We know that as a writer you would have read and heard so many ‘grammar rules’ – the ones that are true and those that are untrue. 

Today we want to debunk a few of those myths. Whose ready to unlearn and relearn?

Here we go!

Myth 1

You shouldn’t start a sentence with the word “however.” 

Wrong! It’s fine to start a sentence with “however” so long as you use a comma after it when it means “nevertheless.” 

The comma is important because however is a conjunctive adverb that can be used in two different ways: it can join main clauses and it can modify a clause.

If you use however at the beginning of a sentence and don’t insert a comma, it would mean “in whatever manner,” “to whatever extent,” or “no matter how.”

Myth 2 

“Irregardless” is not a word. 

Wrong! “Irregardless” is a bad word and a word you shouldn’t use it, but it is a word. You shouldn’t use it if you want to be taken seriously, but it has gained wide enough use to qualify as a word. 

Myth 3

Passive voice is always wrong. 

Wrong! In passive voice, the subject of the sentence isn’t the person or the thing taking the action. In fact, in a passive voice sentence, the actor is often completely left out of the sentence. An example is “Mistakes were made,” because it doesn’t say who made the mistakes. Your writing is often stronger if you make your passive sentences active, but if you don’t know who is responsible for an action, passive voice can be the best choice. 

#GrammarSeries – Three things you should stop doing when you write

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Nobody is perfect and when it comes to grammar, many of us make a few costly mistakes.

Here are three things you may be doing wrong. 

Excessively using fancy words

Fancy words are fun. We agree and they have a way of making us feel smart but that’s not a good enough reason to bombard your article with heavy words. Your writing will be clearer and more powerful if you use them sparingly. After all, you can.

Excessive Punctuation

Sure: sometimes a colon, semicolon, or other fancy punctuation—dashes, for example—can help you get a point across; it’s elegant and convincing.

But often, shorter sentences are better. If your writing feels weighed down by long sentences crammed with lots of punctuation, try taking out some of the extras in favour of sentences that are short and sweet.

Too many negatives

If you’re finding lots of instances of “shouldn’t,” “can’t,” “don’t,” and other variations of “not” in your writing, try to diversify by picking a verb that doesn’t require the word “not.”

 

#GrammarSeries – The purpose of parallelism

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Parallelism in grammar occurs when there is a similarity of structures used in sentence construction. The usage of parallelism in your writing makes the information you are presenting easier to process for your readers. 

Inappropriate parallelism, on the other hand, disturbs the flow of thoughts when reading a piece of writing.

When two or more parts of a sentence are similar in meaning but different in form, a faulty parallelism can be said to have occurred.

Let us take a look at the following examples;

Ali is swimming, driving, running and to dance.

The above sentence sounds odd, doesn’t it? Now check out the sentence below.

Ali is swimming, eating, running and dancing.

The above sentence sounds a whole lot better, doesn’t it? Now, here is what happened.

In the first sentence, the verbs are all in the present continuous form except the last one ‘to dance’ which is in the infinitive form while the verbs in the second sentence are all in the present continuous form.

Be mindful of this when you write.

#GrammarSeries – Learn the difference between compliment and complement

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Time to up your grammar game Sparkle Writers! Today we are learning the difference between compliment and complement because there is a difference!  

Funny enough, these almost similar words get some writers confused when they write too. Fortunately, we are here to help you the best way we can.

What exactly is the difference between ‘compliment’ and ‘complement’? It is simple.

Apart from the obvious ‘i’ and ‘e’ difference between both words, ‘compliment’ means to express praise or admiration for someone or an expression of praise while ‘complement’ means to enhance or complete something else. Pretty easy! Let’s see some examples. 

COMPLEMENT

Black complements white in this painting.

It is often said that the woman complements the man in most marriages.

COMPLIMENT

She falls in love with every guy that compliments her beauty.

Most women do not know how to compliment their husband’s strengths.

Now you know the difference. See you next time for another exciting grammar experience.