Catherine Spicer

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Consider the sentence “Someone left ___ coffee mug in the office cafeteria.” Which pronoun do you first think of to fill in that blank? His? Her? Their? Our Grammar Hammer discusses the recent resurgence of they as a singular pronoun.

Catherine Spicer

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When you write for a living, it’s easy to fall prey to a favorite word’s siren song. Our Grammar Hammer discusses five words that are overused in PR and marketing and how to limit their use so your message doesn’t fall on deaf ears.

Catherine Spicer

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When you write about the transition from one year to the next, do you refer to it as New Year’s, New Years, or New Year? Our final Grammar Hammer of 2015 explains the differences.

Catherine Spicer

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When you talk about turkey with all the trimmings, what do you call the dish that accompanies the bird? Our Grammar Hammer tackles the stuffing vs. dressing debate and why it’s important to understand a language’s regional variations.

Catherine Spicer

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September 24th marked the 11th annual National Punctuation Day. In honor of it, our Grammar Hammer answers the question “What punctuation mark do you find the most difficult to master?” and offers her three tips for mastering it.

Catherine Spicer

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Where do you place punctuation when you’re dealing with quotation marks? PR Newswire’s Grammar Hammer explains whether punctuation should go inside or outside of quotes – and why the answer isn’t so simple.

Catherine Spicer

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Do you struggle with distinguishing between “past” and “passed” in your writing? PR Newswire’s Grammar Hammer looks at the different meanings of each word and shares tips on how to remember to use them properly.

Catherine Spicer

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Press releases, blog posts, media rooms and email pitches often include references to people at your organization. How and when to capitalize their titles can lead to heated debates among colleagues.

Catherine Spicer

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Inc.com recently published a list of 20 embarrassing errors even smart writers make. Among the most commonly misused expressions was the phrasal verb “honed in.” PR Newswire’s Grammar Hammer explains the difference between home in and hone in.

Catherine Spicer

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Months ago I received a Grammar Hammer suggestion to look at the difference between the words “shinny” and “shimmy.” The person who suggested this topic to me said she’d never heard the word “shinny.” I’ll confess, I hadn’t heard of it either. I wondered if shinny was an eggcorn (a word or phrase that results from […]

Catherine Spicer

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Our Grammar Hammer concludes her two-part Punctuation Saves Lives series by sharing tips on how to use brackets, parentheses, braces, ellipses, quotation marks, and apostrophes in your writing.

Catherine Spicer

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In part 1 of our Punctuation Saves Lives series, Grammar Hammer defines the different ways to use commas, semicolons, colons, periods, question marks, exclamation marks, hyphens, and dashes.

Catherine Spicer

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“The principal is your PAL!” With apologies to Ferris Bueller, that’s how I learned the difference between “principle” and “principal.” Here again, we have two words that sound the same but have two completely different meanings. “Principle” refers to a fundamental law, doctrine, or tenet. It can only be used as a noun. “Principal” actually […]

Catherine Spicer

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In the thousands of news releases that cross the desks of the PR Newswire Customer Content Services team on a weekly basis, placing commas outside of quotation marks ranks as one of the most commonly made errors. Though misplaced commas are not a major grammatical offense in comparison to some others we’ve seen, its frequency makes this a […]

Catherine Spicer

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This week’s grammar conundrum stems from someone correcting me (ME! The Grammar Hammer) when I made mention of “preventative” measures I needed to take to curtail further water damage from the gutters that are falling off of my house at the moment. Needless to say, I felt somewhat disgruntled by this remark. I courteously smiled, […]

Catherine Spicer

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This week’s topic explores the proper use of “like” versus “such as.” While we love to pepper our sentences with this classic crutch word, grammatically speaking, there is a very specific time and place for like. For those about to take the GMAT, this little tidbit will help you get at least one question right. […]

Catherine Spicer

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Don’t tell someone you are nauseous, you wouldn’t want them to agree with you.  An employee comes up to me –looking pale and visibly clammy, and says, “I feel nauseous. Ok to head out?” First of all, yes. Please go. Take your germs with you. Secondly, if you’re about to get sick anywhere near me, […]

Catherine Spicer

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It’s the exchange that has befuddled small children forever: Offspring: “Why?” Parent: “Because.” Sound familiar?  I heard that a lot as a kid, and you probably did, too. But what about this one? “I’m moving to Hawaii because winter.” Did the conjunction “because” just become a preposition? When did that happen? I know I may […]

Catherine Spicer

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This week we’re looking at the difference between the active and passive voices, and how to use (or avoid) their use. Active voice: the subject of the sentence performs the action described in the verb. Example: “I shoveled the driveway.” The subject does the action to the object. I shoveled the driveway. The benefit to using […]

Catherine Spicer

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Over the course of last year, our beloved Grammar Hammer tackled a host of topics, ranging from verb tenses to punctuation,  and everything in between. The most popular Grammar Hammer posts for the year focused on basics, for the most part, and here are the ten that garnered the most readers. That Which Does Not […]

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