The age-old question: When you hurt someone’s feelings and later regret it, do you feel bad? Or do you feel badly? Short answer: You feel bad. Here’s the explanation: Bad is an adjective. Adjectives modify nouns. When we say, “Fred is a bad driver,” the adjective bad is modifying the noun driver. We can all agree on this. Badly is … Continue reading Feel Bad vs. Feel Badly
Let’s clear this up once and for all. Should you type one space or two spaces after a period? The answer, according to the most recent editions of every major style guide, is one space. The same goes for question marks, exclamation points and colons. One space. Yes, if you’re over a certain age, you were … Continue reading One Space or Two After Periods?
The abbreviations e.g. and i.e. often get used in place of each other, probably because many people aren’t clear on their actual meanings. Let me break it down for you: Use e.g. when you mean “for example.” Use i.e. when you mean “in other words.” To figure out which one to use, just replace the abbreviation with “for example” and “in … Continue reading E.g. vs. i.e.
Strictly speaking, assure, ensure and insure have three different meanings: You assure a person. You ensure an outcome. You insure something valuable. Take a look at assure. In all three of these sentences, we have people assuring other people: Florence assured Geoffrey that she would bring back the car with a full tank of gas.Restaurant management assured customers that the building … Continue reading Assure vs. Ensure vs. Insure
One of the first grammar lessons many of us learn is that double negatives are bad. Nothing riles up a second-grade teacher like hearing “I can’t go nowhere” or “I didn’t do nothing.” The idea behind the teacher’s indignation is that two negatives make a positive. If you did nothing, then you ought to say, … Continue reading Double Negatives
When my son was 7 years old, he played little league baseball, and he’d often ask me, “Who are we versing this week?” It was his way of asking which team he was playing against, and it showed a misunderstanding of the word versus. I thought it was cute. Then I heard another kid say it … Continue reading ‘Verse’ as a Verb
Question: What’s wrong with the following sentence? I’m giving away all of my clothes which don’t fit me anymore. Answer: There should be a comma after clothes. Maybe. Or which should be changed to that. Maybe. The correct answer depends on the sentence’s intended meaning, and this is where the distinction between which and that comes in handy. Suppose we … Continue reading Which vs. That