Everything listed under: Grammar and Usage

  • He, She, and They: Pronouns and Gender Politics

    If you’ve been studying English for a while, you know that parts of speech such as verbs, nouns, and pronouns are supposed to live in harmony. That means they need to “agree” with each other in a sentence—a rule called parallelism.

    You don’t need to know the “ism” that denotes the rule. I only bring it up so that you’ll know it is a rule, one that’s essential in both spoken and written English.

    But rules are meant to be broken, as the late General Douglas MacArthur famously said. Can you spot the traditional rule I’m breaking in the following sentence?  Read More...

  • The English Sentence

    Most people have an Achilles heel: an area of weakness or vulnerability. According to the ancient Greek myth, Achilles, the Trojan War hero celebrated in Homer’s Iliad, was invulnerable—except for one small spot on his body: his heel. Paris, a warrior for the other side, shot the poisoned arrow that killed Achilles when it pierced his only weak spot.   Read More...

  • The “ing” thing (Part II)

    Those three little letters—ing—seem to be everywhere! But before we move along to gerunds, present participles, and weird variations on continuous tenses, let’s take a look at the future continuous.  Read More...

  • The “ing” thing

    Ana is an advanced speaker of American English who has been living in New York for more than 20 years. She usually manages to understand others and make herself understood, so she hasn’t felt the need to improve her English skills—until now.“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” That’s an old American expression meaning that if something works, don’t worry about it. But Ana is trying to fix her English.   Read More...