There are times when you’re ready to face a blank sheet of paper to write a remarkable essay.
You’re equipped with:
- Your extraordinary topic
- Your collection of powerful verbs and adjectives
- Your striking introduction and moving conclusion
But during the writing process, you pause.
You are not sure if you should use a or an for the word history.
That is one of the most common mistakes that hinder us from writing good sentences. Here are techniques you can use to prevent them:
1 When h is torn between a and an
You use the article a for words that begin with consonants. An is for words that begin with vowels.
However, you need to use an for a word that starts with an unpronounced h.
- an honor
- an hour
Although regional pronunciation can vary, the standard American pronunciation of history retains the h sound at the beginning, so a history is the safer choice.
2 The triplets: there, their, they’re
Their refers to the possessive form of they:
Their houses are their greatest treasures.
Hint: When you see the letter i in the word, consider it a clue that it is claiming something. It is in the possessive form.
There can be a place or may act as an expletive or empty word at the beginning of a sentence.
We will be there tomorrow night.
(there = place)
There are times when we want to be free from the shackles of adulthood.
(there = expletive word)
They’re is a contraction of they are.
Hint: The apostrophe signals that it is a contraction.
They’re planning a protest in front of the embassy.
3 The twins: which and what
- Which book do you like best?
- What book do you like best?
Hint: Which is used when it is obvious that there is a limited number of choices. What is used when there is an unlimited number of choices.
Which book do like best?
(When you are asking a friend to pick from a row of books in the library)
What book do you like best?
(You are simply asking a friend’s favorite book)
4 Is it it’s or its?
If it’s has an apostrophe, then it means it is the shortened form of it is. Use it just like you would use it is.
On the other hand, its is the possessive form of it.
Have you been to France? It’s one of the most wonderful countries I’ve ever visited.
Its beaches and museums are truly one of a kind.
5 E.g. and i.e. errors
E.g. and i.e. are abbreviated Latin terms.
E.g. means “for example.”
Hint: Example starts with e.
I.e. means “that is.”
[stock writer image]
6 Do not regard irregardless
I will go to work irregardless of the bad weather.
Although irregardless has made its way into the dictionary as a nonstandard variant of regardless, many people consider it a serious mistake.
Regardless, according to Merriam-Webster, means “in spite of difficulty, trouble, etc.”
7 You may have confused may with might.
It is a small difference, but might suggests more uncertainty than may.
Your clue: Might has more letters than may. It’s more possible to spell short words correctly than long words.
8 When to use since and for
For refers to a period or duration of time.
Since must reference a specific moment in time as a starting point.
We worked in Mexico for two years.
We’ve been living in Canada since 1996.
9 The order of adjectives
Is it big blue pillow or blue big pillow?
This is the suggestion of language enthusiast Neal Whitman:
According to Whitman, this rule can be bent depending on what you want to emphasize:
I want the green little bag, not the red one!
(color before size for emphasis)
10 Capitalizing job titles
Job titles that are used directly before a name, as part of the name, must be capitalized:
The president of Halo University arrived today.
Halo University President April Hall arrived today.
For additional information on how Grammarly can help you visit: https://www.grammarly.com/grammar-check
Until Next Time…