Which is correct? To say that I write a post for Grammar Hammer each week or to say that I write a post for Grammar Hammer every week? “Every” is used to talk about how often something happens. If I say I write something on a weekly basis, I’m saying I write something “every week.” […]

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 […]

In public speaking, you are taught to watch your use of “disfluencies” – as in the crutch words where you um, like, and you know your way through the silence as your brain scrambles to make a point. Disfluencies can dilute your message and damage your credibility. When speaking to a crowd, ending each point with […]

Get your red pens ready grammar enthusiasts, because this September 24 marks the 10th celebration of National Punctuation Day! Former reporter Jeff Rubin founded National Punctuation Day as an outlet for his frustration with the egregious errors he noticed every morning in the newspaper. It was declared an official holiday when Rubin secured a listing […]

You spent hours laboring over a blog post.  You did your research and fussed over sentences until they were just right. The only thing standing between you and your next task is a headline. You take a few seconds, jot down the first thing that comes to mind, and move on. Don’t do that. You’re cheating […]

In honor of back to school season, ABC aired a special ranking the best episodes of Schoolhouse Rock of all time.  I’ve shared my affection for Schoolhouse Rock before, and I am happy to report that my personal favorite, “Conjuction Junction” took the number 1 spot! Another one of my favorites, which also claimed a […]

I’m of the age that one of the classes I took in high school was typing. Putting two spaces after the period at the end of a sentence was drilled into our heads as a best practice with no rhyme or reason for why this was necessary. Recently, a heated discussion over whether this practice […]

The Oxford Dictionary just unveiled the newest additions to their dictionary, and I have to admit that I was caught quite off guard by some of the entries. Apart from some buzz-wordy jargon that I could see in professional writing (pharmacovigilance), most of these words are ones I would only expect to see in more casual […]

A suggestion from a loyal reader inspired this week’s Grammar Hammer. Is everyday one word or two words (every day)? Both variations refer to an activity that occurs on a daily basis. As usual, the best way to determine which version to use depends on the context. If I am discussing the routine activities that […]

Elicit and illicit might sound similar, but technically they are not homophones and their meanings are vastly different.  The words are occasionally confused due to their similar pronunciation and spelling , which is why they are the focus of today’s Grammar Hammer. “Elicit” is a verb that means “to obtain.” It can also mean “to draw out, to […]

I would be remiss if I didn’t spotlight Weird Al Yankovic’s latest hit, “Word Crimes” as the star of this week’s Grammar Hammer. Off his newest album, “Mandatory Fun,” the viral sensation tackles the most egregious grammar errors of all time and proves once and for all that you can be a stunningly creative songwriter […]

Op-ed pieces are unique in their structure, length, voice in comparison to other non-fiction writing. Knowing how to merge your opinion with factual information is an important part of writing op-ed pieces and attracting readers to your story, is a skill that takes time and practice to finesse.  Jennifer Finney Boylan, author, speaker, and writer for New […]

I often see “wile away the hours” used interchangeably with “while away the hours,” so which is correct? Technically, they both are, but there are some subtle differences one should consider. “To while away the hours” means to “pass time idly” or to “pass time, especially in some leisurely or pleasant manner.” For example, “I spent hours […]

I have a tendency to over think certain grammar rules. Then vs. than is one of those grammar rules that I think I’ve nailed down, but always end up double checking after over thinking it for ten minutes. To save you time and confusion, here are a few ways to remember the correct usage: “Then” is used […]

Part-one of our “Punctuation Saves Lives” series covered the heavy hitters of periods, commas, question marks, exclamation points, colons, semicolons, dashes, and hyphens. Wrapping part-two are brackets, parentheses, braces, ellipses, quotation marks, and apostrophes. Groups – brackets, parentheses, braces Use parentheses ( ) to contain additional thoughts or qualifying remarks (I consider these to be […]

In English grammar, there are fourteen different punctuation marks that I think of as the “primary” punctuation marks – the period, comma, question mark, exclamation point, colon, semicolon, dash, hyphen, parentheses, brackets, braces, ellipses, quotation marks, and apostrophes. These are the marks that help us with sentence structure, help us clarify meaning and distinguish between […]

It is funny to me how one little letter can change the meaning of a word. “Stationary” and “stationery” have completely different meanings and uses, but I think these words are often used incorrectly. Stationary (with an “a”) is an adjective that means not moving or incapable of being moved. Stationery (with an “e”) is […]

Flair/Flare  is one of my favorite homophones. Even though these words sound the same, their meanings are very different and these words are not interchangeable. Flair – a natural talent or aptitude; distinctive elegance or style Example: She had a real flair for soufflé. Example: He wore that hat with a lot of flair. Flare – […]

If your friend is being impatient, is he “chomping at the bit” or “champing at the bit?” The phrase originates in reference to a horse and the bit that goes in his mouth that’s attached to the reins. I will admit to being guilty of saying someone is “chomping at the bit.” Now, in my […]

Every once in a while even I, the Grammar Hammer, must admit when I am wrong. Suffice it to say, I am confident in my use of “in spite of” and I can properly “beg a question.” So, for all intensive purposes… This one hit me squarely in the face last week and I was […]

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