Biannual and Biennial

Posted Posted in Lesson, Word Pairs

BIANNUAL means “twice a year,” or two times within a 365-day period. The prefix “bi-” means “two” and “annual” means “year.” If your HVAC company has a biannual maintenance plan, they’ll come out two times a year and check your heating and cooling system. Thus, you’ll receive that service twice within a calendar year. Likewise, […]

Diagramming Articles and Adjectives

Posted Posted in Diagramming, Lesson

A diagram shows the structure of a sentence by making a “picture” of it. Every diagram starts with a base line which contains the subject and the verb. This is how is looks: __subject_|_verb__ Remember that the base line is a horizontal line and the subject and the verb are separated by a vertical line which goes […]

Immigrate and Emigrate

Posted Posted in Lesson, Word Pairs

Many people don’t know that IMMIGRATE is not the only word to describe the movement of a person between two countries. There is another word, EMIGRATE, that also describes the movement of a person between two countries. Yet they are not interchangeable, despite the fact that they sound very similar and they both discuss the […]

Buses or Busses?

Posted Posted in Lesson, Word Pairs

BUSES is the preferred plural of the word “bus” in modern English. It’s counterpart, “busses” is considered a secondary spelling, and has been such for at least a century. The word “bus” arose in the 1800s as an abbreviation of the word “omnibus” (“for all” in Latin). It was spelled both “bus’ and “buss” for […]

Writing Decades

Posted Posted in Lesson, Uncategorized

There are two correct ways and two incorrect ways to express decades in writing. If you are going to write out the full decade using numbers, you should place an “s” after the numerals. For instance, you would write “the 1980s,” or “the 1850s.” You should not place an “apostrophe -s” after the decade. Apostrophes […]

Discreet and Discrete

Posted Posted in Lesson, Word Pairs

DISCREET: an adjective, meaning “cautious, reserved, modest, or prudent, often in speech and behavior.” For instance, a “discreet” person is one who knows when not to speak about sensitive subjects.For instance, “The girl was discreet when she ate the cookies her grandmother gave her so her mother wouldn’t find out.” DISCRETE: an adjective, meaning “distinct, […]

Broke and Broken

Posted Posted in Lesson, Word Pairs

The use of the word “broke” as an adjective to describe something damaged or not working is very common. But it is incorrect! The reason has to do with how the word “broke” functions in different ways in a sentence. Let’s take a look. BROKE: in verb form, is the past tense of “break.” (I […]

Run-ons and Comma Splices

Posted Posted in Lesson, Punctuation

A RUN-ON sentence is a sentence that joins two independent clauses without punctuation or the appropriate conjunction. For example, “James is quite intelligent he began playing chess when he was two years old.” A COMMA SPLICE is similar to a run-on sentence, but it uses a comma to join two independent clauses.For example, “James is quite […]

All About Appositives

Posted Posted in Lesson

An APPOSITIVE is a noun or noun phrase that renames or restates another noun right before or after it. In other words, appositives provide additional information about the noun. The Latin word for “appositive” actually means “to put near.” Appositives are often offset by commas, but sometimes no punctuation is needed. Let’s take a look: […]


Posted Posted in Lesson

An EGGCORN is a misheard word or phrase that retains the original meaning. Typically, the eggcorn sounds very similar to the word or phrase it is substituting and can even seem to make sense — which is why eggcorns cause confusion. For example, “mute point “is an eggcorn because it is similar to the original […]

The EM Dash and the EN Dash

Posted Posted in Lesson, Punctuation

A DASH indicates added emphasis, an interruption, or an abrupt change of thought. There are two types of dashes, the EM DASH, and the EN DASH. If you don’t know the difference, it’s okay! An EM DASH sets apart parenthetical phrases or clauses in a sentence. In this way, “em dashes” are similar to commas […]