Category: Grammar and writing help


The hypocrisy of hating back-formations

Does the verb incent make you grind your teeth? Can you cope with enthuse? Does spectate rankle? There are plenty of purported language purists in the world with a professed distaste for back-formations; those who would much rather provide with an incentive, express enthusiasm, and be a spectator. Do they have a point? What is […]

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A dog is wreaking havoc in the kitchen.

‘Wreak havoc’ or ‘wreck havoc’?

The harsh Southwest sun can wreak havoc on a wood deck. Last summer’s hot, dry weather wrecked havoc on soybean seed production. Do you know which one is correct? English speakers often confuse ‘wreak havoc’ with ‘wreck havoc’. The confusion is more than understandable: both words are nearly homophones (they sound alike) and also are spelled […]

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Video: ‘that’ or ‘which’?

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Bond villain Blofeld and his cat

11 acronyms that are actually ‘backronyms’

Everyone knows what an acronym is – an abbreviation formed from the initial letters of other words and pronounced as a word, like ‘NASA’ or ‘NATO’ – but not all know what a ‘backronym’ is. While acronyms are formed from phrases or names that exist beforehand, a backronym is an acronym deliberately created to suit […]

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National Novel Writing Month

Words of encouragement, unsolicited advice, and a few reservations about starting a novel for NaNoWriMo

For those participating in NaNoWriMo, I salute you. By all means, please brag about your novel to your friends. Be proud of it. Appreciate the encouragement you receive. Ignore any eye rolls. And, most importantly, use this month as an opportunity not to simply write as many words as you can, but to become a […]

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Quiz: can you tell apart these confusing words?

There are dozens and dozens of pairs of words in English that are easy to mix up. Test your skills with our confusing words quiz, which covers all of your gnarly pairs, from affect / effect to defuse / diffuse and many, many more! If you find yourself lost, you might want to check out our list […]

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Here is a collection of some of the commonly confused words that you often encounter.

31 commonly confused words to watch out for

Let’s be honest: English can be a really confusing language. There are pairs upon pairs of words that seem specially designed to torment – sometimes differing by just a single letter – it’s not just language learners who have to be wary but also native speakers of English. Here is a collection of some of the […]

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Video: practice or practise?

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