Posted Posted in Lesson, Word Pairs

AWHILE is an adverb, meaning “briefly” or “for a time.” A WHILE is a noun phrase comprised of two words: “a” (the article) and “while” (the noun). The phrase means “a period of time.” For example, “The kids played awhile in the backyard.”For example “He ran for a while before he needed to take a […]


Posted Posted in Lesson, Word Pairs

FARTHER and FURTHER both mean “at a greater distance,” and they often are used interchangeably in this sense — but they are not quite the same. Let’s take a look: FARTHER typically refers to physical length or distance. It is the comparative form of the word “far” when referring to distance. FURTHER typically refers to […]

Coordinating and Subordinating Conjunctions

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CONJUNCTIONS are special words that connect two or more sentences, clauses, or parts of clauses. “Coordinating” and “subordinating” conjunctions are two main types of conjunctions. But what does that mean? Coordinating conjunctions link together two words, phrases, clauses, or sentences that are grammatically equivalent. You use them when you want to give equal emphasis to […]

Comma Splits

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A COMMA SPLIT occurs when you put a comma where it doesn’t belong in a sentence. Many people put commas where they don’t belong because they think there’s some sort of natural pause in the sentence — and therefore it needs a comma. Don’t do it! A comma split is NOT a comma splice, which […]

The Oxford Comma

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The “Oxford Comma” is also known as the “serial comma.” This punctuation mark is placed immediately before the coordinating conjunction (usually “and,” “or,” or “nor”) in a series of three or more terms. The necessity of the Oxford Comma is a hotly debated topic. Some dismiss it as overly pretentious or merely unnecessary. Using an […]


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BAD is an adjective that means “the opposite of good,” “poor quality” or “not well.”BADLY is the adverb form of “bad.” Action verbs, which describe an activity or movement, need adverbs to modify how the action is being done. Linking verbs, which “link” the subject to a predicate, require adjectives to modify them. A linking […]


Posted Posted in Lesson, Word Pairs

WHO’S: a contraction of “who is” OR “who has.” WHOSE: a possessive of “who,” (i.e., to whom does this belong?) The apostrophe in WHO’S is the main difficulty for people. Most of the time, an apostrophe -s indicates possession, but in this particular case, it is merely functioning as a contraction. “Whose” is similar to […]


Posted Posted in Lesson, Word Pairs

PASSED is the past tense and past participle of the verb “to “pass.” It means to move on or ahead; proceed. It can function as both a transitive and intransitive verb. For example, “The car passed me in the left lane.”“I unknowingly passed by her in the crowd.” PAST has a several meanings, such as […]


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A participle is a form of a verb. English has two types of participles: present participles and past participles. Present participles are easy to identify: they end in –ing. For instance, “speed” is a verb, and “speeding” is its present participle. To use “speeding” as an adjective-like participle, you could say “Follow that speeding car.” […]

All About the Ellipsis

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An ELLIPSIS is a punctuation mark with basically one function: it signals to the reader that the writer has left something out. The ellipsis indicates an intentional omission of a word, sentence, or whole section from a text without altering its original meaning. For example, Longfellow wrote,“Listen, my children, and you shall hear,Of the midnight […]

Using WHETHER and IF

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A basic guideline is to use IF when you have a conditional sentence and WHETHER when you are showing that two alternatives are possible. Some examples will make this more clear. For example, “The meteorologist didn’t know WHETHER the snowstorm would arrive on Monday or Tuesday.” Because I used “whether,” you know that there are […]

Uninterested and Disinterested

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Is there a difference? Uninterested and disinterested both sound similar because of their prefixes. UN- and DIS- have negative connotations, so it is not unusual to think that uninterested and disinterested are versions of “not interested.” Yet uninterested and disinterested have distinct definitions. Let’s take a look: UNINTERESTED: someone who has no interest in something; unenthusiastic, […]

Homophones & Homographs

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What’s the difference? A HOMOPHONE is a word that SOUNDS the same as another word but differs in meaning, and may differ in spelling. The words may be spelled the same, such as rose (flower) and rose (past tense of “rise”), or differently, such as carat, caret, and carrot, or to, two, and too. A […]