Monthly Archives: December 2011


Simply put, a preposition links nouns, pronouns and phrases to other words in a sentence.  There are about 150 prepositions in English. Yet this is a very small number when you think of the thousands of other words (nouns, verbs etc). Prepositions are important words. We use individual prepositions more frequently than other individual words. In fact, the prepositions of, to and in are among the ten most frequent words in English.

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Business Grammar

Mechanically correct and flawlessly professional documents increase your on-the-job credibility and aid precise communication. Business Grammar consists of three elements:

  • Punctuation
  • Spelling and Usage
  • Grammar and Sentence Structure


Punctuation consists of such things as the correct use of apostrophes, colons, commas, hyphens, italics, parentheses, periods, quotation marks, and semicolons. You also need to know the conventions for plurals and possessives.

Spelling & Usage

Here you’ll findt tips for using spelling checkers effectively and for remembering the difference between commonly confused words such as affect and effect. You also need to know conventions for capitalization and numbers.

Grammar & Sentence Structure

Grammar and sentence structure are concerned with topics like subject-verb agreement and pronoun use (for example, using I, me, and myself correctly). You need to be able to recognize and correct sentence fragments, run-on sentences and lack of parallel structure.

by Dr. Judith M. Newman

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Many of us have a love/hate relationship with commas.

The comma is a valuable, useful punctuation device because it separates the structural elements of sentences into manageable segments. The rules provided here are those found in traditional handbooks; however, in certain rhetorical contexts and for specific purposes, these rules may be broken.

The following is a short guide to get you started using commas. This resource also includes sections with more detailed rules and examples.

Quick Guide to Commas

1. Use commas to separate independent clauses when they are joined by any of these seven coordinating conjunctions: and, but, for, or, nor, so, yet.

2. Use commas after introductory a) clauses, b) phrases, or c) words that come before the main clause.

3. Use a pair of commas in the middle of a sentence to set off clauses, phrases, and words that are not essential to the meaning of the sentence. Use one comma before to indicate the beginning of the pause and one at the end to indicate the end of the pause.

4. Do not use commas to set off essential elements of the sentence, such as clauses beginning with that (relative clauses). That clauses after nouns are always essential. That clauses following a verb expressing mental action are always essential.

5. Use commas to separate three or more words, phrases, or clauses written in a series.

6. Use commas to separate two or more coordinate adjectives that describe the same noun. Be sure never to add an extra comma between the final adjective and the noun itself or to use commas with non-coordinate adjectives.

7. Use a comma near the end of a sentence to separate contrasted coordinate elements or to indicate a distinct pause or shift.

8. Use commas to set off phrases at the end of the sentence that refer back to the beginning or middle of the sentence. Such phrases are free modifiers that can be placed anywhere in the sentence without causing confusion.

9. Use commas to set off all geographical names, items in dates (except the month and day), addresses (except the street number and name), and titles in names.

10. Use a comma to shift between the main discourse and a quotation.

11. Use commas wherever necessary to prevent possible confusion or misreading.


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Common Mistakes

As you can see, spelling matters . . .


1. Who / Whom

These similar pronouns are often used to join two sentences or phrases together but they work quite differently.

Who” refers to a subject of the sentence. This is correct: The old man, who was dressed in simple clothes, is none other than the founder of a large business corporation.

Whom” refers to an object of a sentence. This is correct: This is the Steve, whom I met in my friend’s party. “Whom” here refers to Steve. In the second part of the sentence, Steve becomes the “object” of the sentence.

2. Its / It’s

Its” is a possessive adjective belonging to a thing or associated with a thing. This is correct: The dog is wagging its tail.

It’s” is a contraction of “it is”. This is correct: It’s pretty annoying to have someone talking loudly in the cinema.

3. Irregardless / regardless

There is no such word as “irregardless“. Regardless means without considering the current or the mentioned situation. This is correct: Regardless of the dangers of this operation, the firemen dashed into the building to save the victims.

4. Bought / Brought

These two words are easily misspelled because of a difference in only a letter.

Bought” is a verb that is past tense of “buy” while “Brought” is a verb that is the past tense of “bring”.

5. Principle / Principal

Principle” refers to a noun that is the fundamental of foundation for reasoning or belief. This is correct: I am not doing any illegal or immoral activities because this is a matter of my own principles.

Principal” is a noun that refers to the first in order of importance. It also refers to an original sum of money for investment or loan. This is correct: With the annual interest rate of ten percent and the principal amount of the investment is a hundred thousand dollars, you are likely to receive a hundred and ten thousand dollars at the end of the investment.

6. Unless / Although / Though

These are conjunctions, which connects 2 sentences together. “Unless” works differently from “although” and “though”.

Unless” is used to determine if a statement or event is valid or true, based on a condition that is given. If the condition is fulfilled, the statement would not be valid. This is correct: Unless you have an e-mail address, you will not be able to sign up for Facebook. This is incorrect: Unless you have an e-mail address, you will be able to sign up Facebook.

A popular mistake is the usage of “but” when using “although” and “though“. This is incorrect: Although you had done your best, but you are still unable to become one of the finalists of this competition. This is correct: Although you have done your best, you are still unable to become one of the finalists of this competition.

7. In time / On time

Both phrases work very similarly, with a slight difference in meaning. “In time” would refer to having enough time to spare to accomplish a certain task. This is correct: He was saved because they brought him to the hospital in time.

On time” would indicate punctuality, which meets the planned time. This is correct: The meeting has to start on time.

8. At the end/ In the end

In the end” is used to show that a long time has passed and there is a conclusion. This is correct: In the end, I received a refund for my spoilt printer.

At the end” is to show a point where something stops. This is correct: The bulk of the movie was entertaining, but it became disappointing at the end, because it ended so suddenly.

9. At the beginning / In the beginning

This is similar to the previous one. “At the beginning” refers to a specific point of time. This is correct: You will be asked to give a simple introduction of yourself at the beginning of the lesson.

In the beginning” refers to something that starts over a period of time. This is correct: Our ancestors faced many hardships in the beginning.


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Ten Words You Need to Stop Misspelling

10 words you need to stop misspelling





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