Subject-Verb Agreement, Pt 1

October 1, 2022 by ProofreadingPal in Grammar

In today’s post, I will review an important aspect of English grammar: subject-verb agreement. I’ll review some of the basic terminology and concepts and discuss a couple of points that we proofreaders find cause writers trouble.


Commonly Confused Words: Ship’s Carpenter Edition

September 16, 2022 by ProofreadingPal in Grammar

This kind of unintentional wordplay, sometimes called an eggcorn, comes from mishearing or mixing up similar-sounding words. And it reminded me that it is once again time for me to offer a few tips for distinguishing between commonly confused words.


Common Mistakes to Avoid Making in Your Writing, Part 2

September 2, 2022 by ProofreadingPal in Grammar

Today I’ll write about and provide links to other ProofreadingPal blog posts with more details about three more common errors: run-on sentences, incorrect words, and subject-verb agreement and other verb issues.


Commonly Confused Words: Uninterested vs. Disinterested

August 11, 2022 by ProofreadingPal in Grammar

There it is again. You’re reading a newspaper or magazine, an article about a legal dispute, perhaps, with the two sides of an argument coming together with a trusted mediator, and you see one of those phrases that fills you with fleeting doubt: “a disinterested party.” You’ve seen it often enough that you’ve kind of figured out what it means, right?


Quick Guide to Common Writing Mistakes

August 2, 2022 by ProofreadingPal in Grammar

In today’s post and an upcoming part II post next month, I’ll briefly describe some of the most common errors you should look out for in your writing and I will provide links to excellent ProofreadingPal blog posts from the past for more details on each of these errors.


Commonly Confused Words: Jive Talking

July 12, 2022 by ProofreadingPal in Grammar

This time around we’re looking at two sets of words pertaining to uncertainty, deception, and preconceptions.


Commonly Confused Words: Lightning Round!

June 20, 2022 by ProofreadingPal in Grammar

Over the last few months, this blog has looked at how shifts in our language and culture can cause mix-ups in the meanings of words. This time, let’s dispense with the philosophical framework and plunge directly into some confounding pairs!


A Road by Any Other Name

May 21, 2022 by ProofreadingPal in Grammar

While it may seem confusing to have an Elm Street in the same city as an Elm Lane, there is an actual purpose behind all the different names we give to places cars use, so in this post, let’s look at the different meanings those words convey in US English.


Respectively: Explained

May 5, 2022 by ProofreadingPal in Grammar

The word “respectively” is extremely useful, but only if you use it correctly. It’s useless (though often used) when ”respectively” doesn’t have something to be respective to.


Grammatical Metaphor: A Quick Guide

April 26, 2022 by ProofreadingPal in Grammar

Grammatical metaphor may seem complex, but it is actually something we use rather automatically and frequently in speaking and writing. Becoming aware and intentional about using it, however, can improve our writing in several ways.


More Commonly Confused Words: Y and Wherefore

April 16, 2022 by ProofreadingPal in Grammar

There are occasions when the living language is unsettled; no firm rule guides us, and confusion reigns. And for some peculiar reason, these occasions tend to crop up when the letter Y is involved.


Figurative Language: What It Is and When to Use It

April 1, 2022 by ProofreadingPal in Grammar

igurative and literal speech, often confused, are important to understand, and both serve their purposes in writing. So, in today’s post, I will provide information about figurative and literal language and some tips for knowing when to use each.


Commonly Confused Irregular Words

March 10, 2022 by ProofreadingPal in Grammar

Words derived from the same root might change their spellings when used as nouns or verbs, or when going from singular and plural, and adding to the confusion, some of these irregular spellings follow predictable patterns, while other stay, well, irregular.


Use a Modifier or a Hyphen, Not Both

January 22, 2022 by ProofreadingPal in Grammar

Recently, I’ve been noticing an increase in the error of putting a hyphen between a modifier and the word it modifies. I did mention once in a post on hyphens, “When the words in front of nouns are already modifiers (adverbs or adjectives), no hyphen is used,” but I didn’t elaborate. So, that’s what I’d like to do today.


Guide to Tricky Plurals: Surnames, Joint Possessives

December 11, 2021 by ProofreadingPal in Grammar

We’re used to speaking and writing as individuals; writing from the whole family means navigating some quirks of grammar and spelling. But as the angels in the old Christmas carols like to say, fear not! Your friends at ProofreadingPal are here to help.


Five Common Student Writing Problems

September 30, 2021 by ProofreadingPal in Grammar

In today’s post, I will focus on the needs of one of our large client groups: students. Specifically, I will  review some of the most common problems we proofreaders see in student papers.


When and When Not to Use Em Dashes

September 27, 2021 by ProofreadingPal in Grammar

The en dash is used mostly for number ranges (e.g., 1928–1972) and in some stylebooks to suggest a hierarchical or interactive relationship between two nouns (e.g., father–son relationship). Except when people use an en dash when they want to us an em dash, writers tend to use en dashes properly. It’s em dashes that get abused.


Foreign Loan Words, Diacritics, and AutoCorrect

August 16, 2021 by ProofreadingPal in Grammar

A given word may or may not then “read” to the English-trained eye as foreign, based on habit, familiarity, and longstanding usage. But language is a matter not only of the eye, but also of the ear. That’s where diacritics come in.


Tips to Avoid Mixed Metaphors

July 20, 2021 by ProofreadingPal in Grammar

Whether your first language is English or not, you must have mixed your metaphors a time or two. In conversation, it’s not a biggie. Everyone (unless they’re an editor with no social skills) pretends it didn’t matter, and life goes on. But in writing, these matter. They sit there and taunt the reader to notice something is wrong, and usually they succeed.


Foreign Loan Words and Diacritical Marks

July 8, 2021 by ProofreadingPal in Grammar

Foreign loan words are brought into English more or less intact, either in their original spelling (e.g., the German “schadenfreude,” the French “bistro”) or, if non-Western in origin, transliterated into the Latin alphabet (e.g., the Japanese “karaoke,” the Mandarin “kung fu”).


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