English, a language renowned for its global influence and linguistic diversity, often perplexes both native speakers and learners alike with its myriad of grammar rules. While it boasts a reputation for being a relatively easy language to pick up, the labyrinthine nature of English grammar is not to be underestimated. From irregular verbs to homophones that confound even the most experienced writers, English grammar is a fascinating puzzle that never ceases to surprise.
In this blog post, we'll delve into some of the most intriguing quirks of English grammar, exploring the peculiarities that make this language a captivating challenge to master.
The Unpredictable World of Irregular Verbs
Verbs are the backbone of any language, but English takes a unique twist with its irregular verbs. While many languages have a consistent pattern for conjugating verbs, English throws curveballs that keep learners on their toes. Here are some examples:
Sing - Sang - Sung: The simple past and past participle forms of "sing" don't follow the typical "-ed" pattern, showcasing English's penchant for irregularity.
Go - Went - Gone: The verb "go" takes a different route entirely when it comes to conjugation, with "went" being the past tense form.
Eat - Ate - Eaten: The verb "eat" showcases another irregularity, demonstrating how English verbs can deviate from the norm.
The Spellbinding World of Homophones
Homophones are words that sound the same but have different meanings and spellings. Navigating through these tricky pairs can be a true test of one's language skills:
Their, There, They're: These three homophones are a common source of confusion. "Their" indicates possession, "there" denotes a location, and "they're" is a contraction of "they are."
To, Too, Two: Another set of homophones that often trip up writers. "To" is a preposition, "too" means also and excessively, and "two" is the number.
It's, Its: The apostrophe in "it's" signifies a contraction of "it is" or "it has," while "its" is a possessive pronoun indicating ownership.
The Ambiguous Apostrophe
Apostrophes, those small punctuation marks, wield considerable power in English grammar. However, their usage isn't always straightforward:
Contractions: As seen in "can't" (cannot) or "won't" (will not), apostrophes are used to indicate missing letters in contractions.
Possession: Apostrophes denote possession, such as in "the dog's bone" or "Sarah's book."
Plural Possession: The placement of the apostrophe can cause confusion when indicating possession for plural nouns, as in "the students' notebooks" (belonging to multiple students).
The Enigma of Prepositions
Prepositions, those tiny words that indicate relationships between other words in a sentence, can perplex even the most seasoned grammarians:
In, On, At: Determining when to use "in," "on," or "at" to indicate time or location can be a daunting task. For example, we say "in the evening," "on Monday," and "at noon."
Between, Among: Knowing when to use "between" (for two) and "among" (for three or more) isn't always straightforward.
The Curious Case of Articles
Articles (a, an, the) might seem simple, but their usage can be quite intricate:
A vs. An: The choice between "a" and "an" depends on the sound that follows the article, not the actual first letter. For example, "a university" but "an hour."
Definite Article "The": While "the" typically indicates specificity, it can also be used in a more general sense, as in "The cheetah is the fastest land animal."
Summarizing the Quirks
The labyrinthine landscape of English grammar is a marvel to explore, filled with irregular verbs, confounding homophones, ambiguous apostrophes, perplexing prepositions, and the curious case of articles.
As we've seen, English grammar is far from a straightforward affair, offering a constant challenge and a rewarding journey for both native speakers and language learners.
So, the next time you find yourself grappling with irregular verbs or pondering over the correct usage of homophones, remember that you're not alone in navigating the intricate tapestry of English grammar.
Embrace the quirks, unravel the complexities, and embark on a linguistic adventure that will leave you with a deeper appreciation for the captivating world of language. Happy grammatical explorations!
Introduction: What is Pronoun Disagreement?
Pronoun disagreement occurs when the pronouns used in a sentence do not match in terms of number or gender. In other words, there's a mismatch between the pronoun and the noun it's referring to.
1. Number Agreement: Singular and Plural
When talking about one thing (singular), we use certain pronouns, and when talking about more than one thing (plural), we use different pronouns. Pronoun disagreement happens when these pronouns don't match the number of the noun.
Incorrect: The team lost their game. (The team is singular, but "their" is plural.)
Correct: The team lost its game. (The team is singular, and "its" matches.)
2. Gender Agreement: He, She, They
Pronouns like "he," "she," and "they" have specific gender associations. Using the wrong pronoun that doesn't match the gender of the noun leads to pronoun disagreement.
Incorrect: The girl finished his ice cream. (The girl is female, but "his" is masculine.)
Correct: The girl finished her ice cream. (The girl is female, and "her" matches.)
3. Indefinite Pronouns: Everyone, Nobody, Somebody
Indefinite pronouns can also lead to pronoun disagreement if they're not matched correctly with the appropriate pronoun.
Incorrect: Everybody should do whatever they want. (Everybody is singular, but "they" is plural.)
Correct: Everybody should do whatever he or she wants. (Using a singular pronoun that matches.)
4. Recap and Summary:
Pronoun disagreement happens when pronouns (words that stand in for nouns) don't match the number or gender of the nouns they're referring to. Here's a quick recap:
Remember, pronoun disagreement can lead to confusion or miscommunication, so it's important to make sure your pronouns agree with the nouns they refer to.
The English language is known for its quirks and idiosyncrasies, and one intriguing phenomenon is the presence of silent letters. Among these silent letters, the silent "p" at the beginning of certain words stands out as particularly enigmatic. In this blog post, we will delve into the fascinating world of silent "p" words, exploring their origins, linguistic evolution, and cultural influences. So, let's embark on a journey to unravel the mysteries of these peculiar linguistic anomalies.
I. The Historical Heritage: Etymological Origins
Silent "p" words often trace their origins back to ancient Greek or Latin.
The letter "p" was pronounced in the original source language, but its pronunciation changed over time.
Examples: pneumonia, psychology, pterodactyl, pneumatic.
II. The Influence of French: The Norman Conquest
The defeat of the English at the hands of their neighbours across the English Channel brought French elements into the English language.
French words with silent "p" sounds infiltrated the lexicon during this period.
Examples: receipt, pneumonia (derived from French pneumatique), pterodactyl (from Greek via French).
III. Phonological Shifts: Sound Changes and Phonetic Evolution
Pronunciation shifts in English led to the omission of certain sounds, including the silent "p."
These changes were gradual and varied across regions and dialects.
Examples: pneumonia (/njuːˈmoʊniə/ to /nəˈmoʊniə/), psychology (/saɪˈkɒlədʒi/ to /saɪˈkɑːlədʒi/).
IV. Sociolinguistic Factors: Prestige and Euphony
Silent letters were often associated with prestige and the educated classes.
Pronouncing silent letters was seen as an indication of refined speech.
Euphony, or pleasantness of sound, played a role in the preservation of silent letters.
Examples: pneumonia, ptarmigan (pronounced "tarmigan").
The presence of silent "p" words in the English language adds a layer of complexity and intrigue to our linguistic landscape. Through a combination of historical factors, phonological shifts, and sociolinguistic influences, these silent letters have become an integral part of our vocabulary. The etymological origins rooted in ancient languages, the impact of the Norman Conquest, and the evolving pronunciation patterns have all contributed to the silent "p" phenomenon we observe today. By understanding the fascinating backstory behind these words, we gain a deeper appreciation for the rich tapestry of language and its dynamic nature.
So, the next time you encounter a word like "pneumonia" or "psychology" with a silent "p," you can marvel at the linguistic journey that brought it to its current form.
An Oxford comma, also known as a serial comma, is a comma used before the conjunction in a list of three or more items. The purpose of the Oxford comma is to clarify the meaning of a sentence by separating items in a list and avoiding ambiguity.
For example, consider the following sentence without an Oxford comma:
Without an Oxford comma, it is unclear whether the speaker had lunch with four people (their parents, Beyoncé, and Lady Gaga) or whether the speaker had lunch with only their parents, and separately mentioned that they had also met Beyoncé and Lady Gaga at a different time.
However, with an Oxford comma, the sentence would read:
In this sentence, the Oxford comma makes it clear that the speaker had lunch with three people: their parents, Beyoncé, and Lady Gaga.
Here are five additional examples that demonstrate the use of the Oxford comma:
Despite its clear benefits in avoiding ambiguity, the use of the Oxford comma is a source of disagreement among writers. Some argue that the Oxford comma is unnecessary and can make sentences look cluttered, while others believe that it is essential for clarity. Ultimately, the decision to use an Oxford comma is a matter of personal preference and style.
Grammar can be a tricky subject, and one common issue that arises is the use of dangling modifiers. Dangling modifiers can create confusion and ambiguity in a sentence, but are they really a big deal? In this blog post, we'll define what a dangling modifier is, discuss why it can be a problem, and offer some tips for avoiding them.
What is a Dangling Modifier?
A dangling modifier is a type of misplaced modifier that is not clearly or logically connected to the subject of a sentence. In other words, the modifier "dangles" without a clear referent in the sentence. This can result in confusing or even unintentionally humorous sentences.
Here's an example of a dangling modifier:
Walking through the park, the flowers were beautiful.
In this sentence, the modifier "walking through the park" is not clearly connected to a subject. Who or what is walking through the park? The sentence implies that it's the flowers, which is obviously not correct.
Why Dangling Modifiers Can Be a Big Deal
Dangling modifiers can cause confusion or ambiguity in a sentence, which can make it difficult for readers to understand the intended meaning. They can also create unintentional humor, which may not be appropriate in all situations. In addition, using too many dangling modifiers can make writing seem unprofessional or sloppy.
Here are some reasons why dangling modifiers can be problematic:
They can change the meaning of a sentence. Dangling modifiers can lead to sentences that say something unintended or different than what was intended.
They can confuse readers. Dangling modifiers can make it difficult for readers to understand what the writer is trying to say.
They can make writing seem unprofessional. Using too many dangling modifiers can make writing seem unpolished or careless.
How to Avoid Dangling Modifiers
Fortunately, there are some easy ways to avoid dangling modifiers. Here are a few tips:
Make sure the subject is clear. A modifier should be clearly connected to the subject of the sentence.
Place the modifier close to the subject. When possible, place the modifier right next to the subject it's modifying.
Rewrite the sentence. If you can't fix a dangling modifier by simply moving it closer to the subject, try rewriting the sentence.
Here's an example of a corrected sentence:
Walking through the park, I saw beautiful flowers.
In this sentence, the subject ("I") is clearly connected to the modifier "walking through the park." The sentence now makes sense and is free of dangling modifiers.
While dangling modifiers may seem like a minor issue in grammar, they can cause confusion and ambiguity in writing. They can also make writing seem unprofessional or sloppy. However, with some careful attention and editing, it's easy to avoid dangling modifiers and create clear, concise, and effective writing.
In today's fast-paced world, concentration is one of the most valuable skills we can possess. And in the world of proofreading, this is doubly so. For the proofreader, concentration is key. However, with so many distractions around us, it can be difficult to stay focused for extended periods. Fortunately, there are techniques you can use to maintain your concentration and improve your productivity. Here are some of the most effective techniques for maintaining concentration:
Use Time Management Techniques
Get Enough Sleep
By using these techniques, you can maintain your concentration, improve your productivity, and achieve your goals more efficiently. Remember that everyone is different, so experiment with different techniques to find what works best for you. With practice, you can train your brain to maintain focus and achieve your desired outcomes.
The words 'who' and 'whom' are often used interchangeably in everyday conversation, but they have different functions and are used in different contexts. Understanding the difference between 'who' and 'whom' can help you communicate more effectively and avoid common grammar mistakes.
'Who' and 'whom' are both pronouns, and they are used to refer to people. The difference between them is that 'who' is the subject of a sentence or clause, while 'whom' is the object of a verb or preposition.
1. Who is going to the party tonight?
2. Whom did you invite to the party tonight?
In the first sentence, 'who' is the subject of the verb 'is going.' It is asking for the identity of the person who is performing the action of going to the party.
In the second sentence, 'whom' is the object of the verb 'did invite.' It is asking for the identity of the person who is receiving the action of being invited to the party.
Another way to determine whether to use 'who' or 'whom' is to look at the function of the pronoun in the sentence. If it is the subject of a verb, use 'who.' If it is the object of a verb or preposition, use 'whom.'
Who is calling me on the phone?
To whom should I address this letter?
In the third sentence, 'who' is the subject of the verb 'is calling.' It is asking for the identity of the person who is performing the action of calling.
In the fourth sentence, 'whom' is the object of the preposition 'to.' It is asking for the identity of the person to whom the letter should be addressed.
While it is always correct to use 'who' as the subject of a sentence or clause, the use of 'whom' is becoming less common in modern English. In some cases, it may be considered more formal or old-fashioned. In informal speech or writing, it is often acceptable to use 'who' instead of 'whom.'
Who did you give the book to? (Informal)
To whom did you give the book? (Formal)
In conclusion, 'who' and 'whom' are both pronouns used to refer to people, but they have different functions. Use 'who' as the subject of a sentence or clause, and use 'whom' as the object of a verb or preposition. While it is always correct to use 'who' as the subject, the use of 'whom' is becoming less common in modern English and may be considered more formal or old-fashioned. In informal speech or writing, it is often acceptable to use 'who' instead of 'whom.'
So, what's new in the Fourth Edition of The No-Nonsense Proofreading Course?
Firstly, the format. Feedback from my customers strongly indicated most people enjoyed the material on their laptops and iPads. So I've gone for a landscape ratio, so there's no more pinching and scrolling. It's still A4, so if you want to print it out, you can.
I've spruced-up the design, too. I hope you like it!
I've updated the business section. Some of the links were pointing to sites that have ceased to operate. I've also added a few newcomers (e.g. Unsplash for sourcing promotional images, and some new freelance markets).
And that's pretty much it. The core of The No-Nonsense Proofreading Course was and, and remains, the same proofreading method I've been successfully using for more that thirty years.
The plan is to update The No-Nonsense Proofreading Course yearly, weeding-out dead links and pointing readers in the direction of new useful resources.
In today's digital age, having a website is essential for businesses of all sizes. A website is often the first point of contact for potential customers and can make a lasting impression on them. Therefore, it is crucial for businesses to ensure that their website is not only visually appealing but also free of errors. This is where proofreading comes in.
Proofreading is the process of carefully examining a text for errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, and syntax. It is a crucial step in the website development process, and it can help businesses to enhance their online presence and reputation.
Here are some reasons why it is essential for businesses to have their websites proofread:
Avoids embarrassing mistakes: Spelling and grammar errors on a website can make a business appear unprofessional and careless. It can also create confusion for visitors, leading them to misunderstand the message or even lose trust in the business. Proofreading helps to ensure that the website is error-free, which helps to maintain the business's credibility and professionalism.
Enhances user experience: A website that is free of errors is easier to read and navigate, providing visitors with a better user experience. This, in turn, can lead to increased engagement, longer visit times, and ultimately, more sales.
Boosts search engine optimization: Search engines, such as Google, favor websites that are well-written and error-free. A website that has been proofread is more likely to have a higher search engine ranking, which can help to attract more visitors and increase visibility.
Consistency in messaging: A business's website is often its primary communication tool, and it is essential that the messaging is consistent across all pages. Proofreading helps to ensure that the messaging is clear, concise, and consistent, which can help to reinforce the brand's identity and messaging.
Saves time and money: Fixing errors on a website after it has been published can be time-consuming and costly. Proofreading before publication can help to avoid these issues, saving time and money in the long run.
The importance of proofreading cannot be overstated. However, it can be challenging to spot errors in your own writing, which is why it is beneficial to seek the help of a professional proofreader or to take a proofreading course.
The No-Nonsense Proofreading Course is an excellent resource for businesses looking to improve their proofreading skills. This course is designed to teach individuals how to identify common errors in writing, how to correct them, and how to improve the overall quality of their writing. The course is user-friendly, comprehensive, and provides hands-on practice to help users apply what they have learned.
In conclusion, having an error-free website is essential for businesses to attract and retain customers, enhance their online presence, and maintain their credibility and professionalism. Proofreading is an essential step in the website development process, and it is worth investing in to ensure that the website is error-free. The No-Nonsense Proofreading Course is an excellent resource for businesses looking to improve their proofreading skills and enhance the quality of their writing.
What is a sitemap and why should you have one?
At its most basic, a sitemap is a blueprint of your website that helps a search engine find, crawl and efficiently index all of the content and its specific location on your website.
If you've gone to the trouble of creating a professional website for your proofreading business, regardless of how simple or sophisticated your website is, your primary goal is to attract visitors and potential proofreading clients.
In short, having a sitemap will greatly help you to achieve that goal.
Initially, your new proofreading site is going to attract visitors via search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo etc. through organic searches, and while there is no requirement to have a sitemap (because search engines will eventually get around to finding you anyway) having one will definitely increase your chances of appearing in their search listings.
In Google's own words:
Having your site crawled by Google might sound a little creepy, but in this context it's essential if your proofreading business is going to succeed online.
Besides, if they're going to crawl your site anyway, by providing a sitemap you're preparing your new business for the best possible start from the get-go by making it much easier for Google to index your site so it can better understand what it's about and then rank it accordingly in its search listings (SERPS).
Okay, so that's what a sitemap is, a basic blueprint.
So why should my website have a sitemap?
The bottom line is that all websites want to be found and to appear in search listings (or why have a site at all?).
Once again, if you've gone to the trouble of learning to proofread with the help of our Proofreading course, creating a website for your proofreading business, then you most definitely want it to be found, and a very useful by-product of having a sitemap is that it not only helps you get found, but it also helps greatly with your SEO efforts.
If you apply good SEO disciplines during the creation and ongoing maintenance of your website, then by including your chosen keywords in meta descriptions, post and article titles, and image names etc. those good SEO practices will be found and indexed an awful lot quicker if you have a sitemap to guide the way.
So how do I create a sitemap for my proofeading site?
Thankfully, with the exception of WordPress, they’re mostly done automatically which is a godsend if you're not the techie type
Let's start with the easy ones.
Wix, Weebly and most other template-based site builders (free or otherwise) all automatically generate sitemaps by default.
WordPress is slightly different in that a sitemap isn’t automatically created, but creating one is very easy using a dedicated plugin.
For our WordPress sites we use the free ‘Google XML Sitemaps’ plugin.
To create a WordPress sitemap using the Google XML Sitemaps plugin, simply install and activate the plugin. Done.
Okay. So, depending on how or where you created your website, you now have access to your sitemap.
Now it's time to submit your sitemap to the search engines, or more accurately, you're going to submit the location of your sitemap to the search engines.
Regardless of the platform you created your website on (Wix, Weebly, WordPress etc.), here's what you'll be submitting:
Obviously the 'website-name' part of the URL will be your own actual website name!
Now it's time to submit (the location of) your sitemap to the search engines.
Submit your sitemap to Google:
(If you need a quick refresher about Google Search Console, go take a look at my last article 'Your Proofreading Business Website SEO and Google'. Click here).
Submit your sitemap to Bing:
With regards to Yahoo:
On July 29, 2009, Microsoft and Yahoo! announced a deal in July 2009 in which Bing would henceforth power Yahoo! Search, so submitting your sitemap location to Bing pretty much takes care of Yahoo too.
You can now be safe in the knowledge that the major search engines are now aware of your proofreading business website and will henceforth crawl and add to their site index for your site on a regular basis.
Now it's down to you to keep posting relevant, keyword focused articles along with the usual best SEO practices of using keyword rich descriptions for both titles, metadata descriptions and image names.
Owning and maintaining a website that promotes your proofreading business may seem daunting, but in reality, it's a case of taking small but regular steps that will incrementally improve the success of your business.
Submitting a sitemap is just one more small step.
Bye for now!
Full disclosure & disclaimer…
Mike and I are not affiliated in any way to any sites listed above. This information is presented without condition or for personal profit in the hope that, having bought The No-Nonsense Proofreading Course you can make money proofreading without delay.
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My name's Mike Sellars and I'm an experienced proofreader and the author of The No-Nonsense Proofreading Course. Click here to find out more about me.
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