Common Mistakes

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Adding Commas for Clarity

Sometimes it is necessary to add a comma to make a sentence clear. Unclear: In the kitchen cupboards were empty. (Make it clear that the phrase is “in the kitchen,” not “in the kitchen cupboards.”) Clear: In the kitchen, cupboards were empty. Unclear: The room was full of crying babies and mothers. (Were the mothers

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Take/Bring

Bring means “to carry to a nearer place from a more distant one.” Take means the opposite: “To carry to a more distant place from a nearer one.” Examples: Bring that file over here. Take this package to the post office. The past and the past participle of bring is brought. Brang and brung are

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Used to/Use to

The common expressions supposed to meaning “meant to” or “intended to” and used to meaning “formerly” are frequently misspelled or misunderstood. Both expression are normally in the Passive Voice. This means that the verb is the past participle so it ends with an -ed. Writers sometimes drop the final d because of the t sound

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Commas in a Series

Use commas to separate three or more words, phrases, or clauses in a series. A conjunction goes between the last two items of the series. While some authorities say that the comma before the conjunction is optional, leaving it out may cause confusion, so it is better to include it. Words: Use commas to separate

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Commas with Adjectives Following Nouns

Sometimes for emphasis adjectives or paired adjectives follow the noun they modify. The adjective or adjective pair is then set off by commas. Correct: The car, bright red, stood out in the parking lot. The adjective pair, if coordinate adjectives, must use the word and to separate the two adjectives. Correct: The dessert, sweet and

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