Nary a

The phrase nary a---which means not one, no, or not a and fits where any of those would work---derives from never a (via ne'er a). As it's dialectal, it might be considered out of place in formal writing. Yet that doesn't stop writers from using it in all sorts of contexts. Examples But nary a snarl nor bark was heard from this entire bunch. [Wall Street Journal][I]t's hard to think of a modern action movie that doesn't feature at least one orgasmic detonation, followed by cool guys … [Read more...]

Fish vs. fishes

The plural of fish is usually fish, but fishes has a few uses. In biology, for instance, fishes is used to refer to multiple species of fish. For example, if you say you saw four fish when scuba diving, that means you saw four individual fish, but if you say you saw four fishes, we might infer that you saw an undetermined number of fish of four different species.Fishes, with an apostrophe, also serves as the plural possessive of fish---for example, the fishes' scales were yellow. And of … [Read more...]


An appositive is a word or phrase that renames an earlier element in a sentence. Two elements that have this relationship are said to be in apposition. For example, in the following sentence, "the T.S.A. spokesman" is an appositive of "Mr. Fotenos" because the latter renames the former: Mr. Fotenos, the T.S.A. spokesman, promised improvements in a few months, as the agency's Secure Flight Program takes full effect. [NY Times] Restrictive vs. nonrestrictive appositives A restrictive … [Read more...]

Grill vs. grille

As a noun, grill refers to (1) a cooking surface using parallel metal bars, (2) a device that cooks with a grill, or (3) a restaurant offering grilled food. As a verb, it means (1) to grill, or (2) to question relentlessly. Grille, which is only a noun, usually refers to a grating used as a screen or barrier on a window or on the front of an automobile.Grille is often used instead of grill in restaurant names---e.g., Salt Creek Grille, O'Connell's Irish Pub & Grille, Arooga's Grille … [Read more...]


Parts of speechAdjectives Adverbs Conjunctions Interjections Nouns Prepositions Pronouns VerbsA verb is used to signify the performance of an action. Every verb needs a noun to perform its action.One noun and one verb are the minimum needed to make a complete sentence---for example:It flew. We waited. I am.Infinitives An infinitive, also known as a verb root or verb stem, is a verb in its uninflected form. In English, infinitives are preceded … [Read more...]


Parts of speechAdjectivesAdverbsConjunctionsInterjectionsNounsPrepositionsPronounsVerbsA pronoun substitutes for an implied noun or an antecedent---that is, a noun, noun phrase, clause, or other pronoun that has come before. Pronouns have two main purposes.1.  They reduce repetition---for example: Friends of Susan Powell told the Salt Lake Tribune she was afraid her husband Joshua Powell would kidnap her sons if she divorced him. [Examiner] This is more graceful than the … [Read more...]


Parts of speechAdjectivesAdverbsConjunctionsInterjectionsNounsPrepositionsPronounsVerbsA noun names a person, place, thing, idea, action, or anything else that can be named. Properties of nouns Nouns have four main properties:Case: A noun's case signals its relationship to other elements in the sentence. The three cases are nominative, objective, and possessive. In English, nominative and objective nouns are the same, while possessives usually use an apostrophe (for plural) or 's (for … [Read more...]


Parts of speechAdjectivesAdverbsConjunctionsInterjectionsNounsPrepositionsPronounsVerbsInterjections, also known as exclamations, are words or phrases used to suddenly and briefly express strong feelings---for example: Wow!Ouch!Hey!Oh.What the heck? As in these examples, interjections are usually treated as standalone sentences, even though they obviously don't have subjects and predicates. In other cases, particularly in casual speech or writing, an interjection may be affixed … [Read more...]


Parts of speechAdjectives Adverbs Conjunctions Nouns Prepositions Pronouns VerbsA conjunction connects two or more sentences, clauses, or parts of clauses. Some of the most common conjunctions in English are and, because, but, for, nor, so, until, when, and yet. The two main types of conjunctions are coordinating conjunctions and subordinating conjunctions. There are also correlative conjunctions, copulative conjunctions, adversative conjunctions, disjunctive … [Read more...]


Parts of speechAdjectives Adverbs Conjunctions Interjections Nouns Prepositions Pronouns VerbsAdverbs modify the meanings of verbs, adjectives, prepositions, conjunctions, and other adverbs. Adverbial words usually end in -ly. For example, quickly in the clause come quickly is an adverb because it modifies the verb come. But there are many adverbs that do not end in -ly. For example, fast in the clause run fast is an adverb because it modifies the verb run.Though we … [Read more...]

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