Quick and Dirty Grammar

Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Grammar at a Glance — американский «Как правильно?». Краткий обзор распространенных ошибок.


Распространенные ошибки 

A/AnUse a before consonant sounds; use an before vowel sounds. She has an MBA. It’s a Utopian idea.
A LotA lot means “a large number” and is two words, not one. Allot means “to parcel out.”
Abbreviations (Making Them Plural)Add an s (without an apostrophe) to the end of an abbreviation to make it plural. Smith had two RBIs tonight.
Affect/EffectMost of the time affect is a verb and effect is a noun. He affected her. The effect mattered. […]
Assure/Ensure/InsureAssure means “to reassure”; ensure means “to guarantee”; insure refers to insurance
BecauseIt’s OK to start a sentence with because; just be sure you haven’t created a sentence fragment. Because Squiggly was tired, he forgot to stow the chocolate. (OK) Because Squiggly was tired. (wrong)
Between You and I/Between You and MeBetween you and me is the correct phrase
Can/MayTraditionalists maintain that can refers to ability and may refers to permission. Can you fix the broken dishwasher? May I go to the mall?
Capital/CapitolCapital refers to a city, uppercase letter, or wealth. A capitol is a building
ColonsIn sentences, only use colons after something that would be a complete sentence on its own
Commas (Equal Pauses)It is not a rule that you put a comma in wherever you would naturally pause in a sentence
Comma (Serial)It’s up to you whether to use a serial comma (the comma before the final and in a list of items)
Complement/ComplimentThings that work well together complement each other. Compliments are a form of praise
DeadDead is an absolute (nongradable) word that shouldn’t be modified with words such as completely or very
Different From/Different ThanIn most cases, different from is the preferred form
E.G./I.EE.g. means “for example”; i.e. means “that is.”
Each/EveryEach and every are singular and mean the same thing
E-mail/EmailBoth forms are acceptable. Traditionalists prefer e-mail
Everyone/EverybodyEveryone and everybody are singular and mean the same thing
Fewer/LessUse fewer for count nouns; use less for mass nouns. There were fewer fish. There was less water.
Farther/FurtherFarther refers to physical distance; further relates to metaphorical distance or means “moreover.” Aardvark ran farther than Squiggly. Further, they hope to run tomorrow.
Hanged/HungPeople (or animals) who were executed were hanged; everything else was hung
HopefullyAlthough it isn’t wrong, don’t start a sentence with hopefully—too many people believe it’s wrong
HoweverIt’s OK to start a sentence with however, but be careful with your comma placement. However, we wish he hadn’t used permanent ink. However hard Squiggly tried, he couldn’t reach the chocolate.
HyphenNever use a hyphen in place of a dash
In To/IntoInto is a preposition that specifies a direction; sometimes the words in and to just end up next to each other. Move into the foyer. He broke in to the dining room.
InternetInternet is capitalized
Its/It’sIts is the possessive form of it; it’s means “it is” or “it has.” It’s a shame the tree lost its leaves.
Lay/LieSubjects lie down; objects are laid down. I want to lie down. I will lay the pen on the table.
LiterallyLiterally means “exactly.” Don’t use it for emphasis or to mean “figuratively.”
Log In/Log On/Log Out/Log OffThese are all acceptable two-word verbs. They require a hyphen when used as adjective. I want to log in. Please give me the log-in code.
May/ MightMay implies more of a likelihood that something is possible than might. We may go out. Pigs might fly.
Modifiers (Misplaced)Make sure your modifiers apply to the right words. I only eat chocolate. (The only thing I do with chocolate is eat it.) I eat only chocolate. (I eat nothing but chocolate.)
MyselfPlease visit Aardvark and myself is an incorrect hypercorrection. The correct form is Please visit Aardvark and me
Nauseated/NauseousNauseated means you feel queasy; nauseous describes something that makes you queasy. The nauseous fumes are making me nauseated
Nouns (Collective)Collective nouns describe a group of things such as furniture and a team. They are singular in the United States
Numbers (at the Beginning of a Sentence)Write out numbers at the beginning of a sentence
Online/On LineOnline is one word, not two
Periods (Abbreviations at the End of a Sentence)Don’t use two periods if you have an abbreviation at the end of a sentence
Periods (Spaces After)Use one space after a period at the end of a sentence
Possession (Compound)When two people share something, they share an apostrophe. When two people have separate things, they each need their own apostrophe. We’re at Squiggly and Aardvark’s house. Have you met Squiggly’s and Aardvark’s mothers?
Possession (Words That End with S)The most common way to make a singular word that ends with s possessive is to add alone apostrophe (Steve Jobs’ keynote), but it’s not wrong to add an s after the apostrophe (Steve Jobs’s keynote). Some people make the decision based on pronunciation (Steve Jobs’ keynote, Kansas’s statute)
Prepositions (Ending Sentences with)It’s OK to end a sentence with a preposition, except when the preposition is dispensable. Whom did you step on? (OK) Where is he at? (wrong)
Question Marks (with Indirect Questions)Don’t use a question mark after an indirect question. I wonder why Squiggly left.
Question Marks (with Question Tags)Use question marks after statements that end with question tags. Squiggly left because he was mad, didn’t he?
Quote/QuotationQuote is a verb; quotation is a noun. I want to quote you. Is this the correct quotation?
Quotation Marks (with Other Punctuation)Commas and periods go inside of quotation marks; colons and semicolons go outside of quotation marks. Question marks and exclamation points can go inside or outside of quotation marks, depending on the context
Sentences (Run-on)Run-on sentences aren’t just long sentences; they are created when main clauses are joined without proper punctuation
SicSic is Latin for “thus so.” You can use [sic] to show that an error occurred in the original text—you know there’s an error and you didn’t introduce it
Sit/SetSubjects sit, objects are set. I want to sit down. I will set the pen on the table.
Split InfinitivesIt’s OK to split infinitives. They want to boldly go where no one has gone before.
Subject /ObjectThe subject in a sentence takes the action; the object receives or is the target of the action. [Subject] threw the ball. Squiggly threw the [object].
Than/ThenUse than for comparison; use then for time. Aardvark is taller than Squiggly. Then they went fishing.
That/WhichUse that with restrictive clauses; use which with nonrestrictive clauses. I like gems that sparkle, including diamonds, which are expensive.
That/WhoUse that to refer to things; use who to refer to people
ThePronounce as “thuh” before consonant sounds, “thee” before vowel sounds
UniqueUnique is an absolute (nongradable) word that shouldn’t be modified with words such as most or very
Verbs (Action and Linking)Use adverbs to modify action verbs and adjectives to modify linking verbs. He ran terribly. He smells terrible.
Was/WereUse was to refer to the past; use were to refer to things that are wishful or not true. I was at the store. If I were rich, I would buy a yacht.
Who/WhomUse who to refer to a subject; use whom to refer to an object. Who loves Squiggly? Whom do you love?
Your/You’reYour is the possessive form of you; you’re means “you are.”


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