Style and Usage

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Tricky Plurals

There are four groups of words which some speakers and writers have difficulty with. In each case it has to do with the agreement of plurals or plural-looking words with the verbs or other words they go with. Plural-looking Nouns Some nouns that end in -s look like they are plural, but they really are

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The Verb To Be

The verb to be is the most irregular verb in the English language. It is normally a linking verb showing existence or the condition of the subject. It can also be used as an auxiliary verb when forming the passive voice. The forms of the verb to be in English are as follows: Infinitive to

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Dangling Modifiers

A dangling modifier is a phrase or clause which says something different from what is meant because words are left out. The meaning of the sentence, therefore, is left “dangling.” Incorrect: While driving on Greenwood Avenue yesterday afternoon, a tree began to fall toward Wendy H’s car. (It sounds like the tree was driving! This

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Misplaced Modifiers

This is a common problem in American speech. Writing has to be more precise than speaking, or it will be misunderstood. A misplaced modifier is simply a word or phrase describing something but not placed near enough the word it is supposed to modify. The modifying word or phrase is not dangling; no extra words

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Pronoun Case

Pronouns are words that Americans often carelessly use in their speech. The problem is that the use of pronouns must be very clear when we write. Many times the writing will be misunderstood; at best, the writer will appear uneducated. A major problem with pronouns is the use of the wrong case. In English certain

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