Tagged With grammar

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English is a weird language. None of our grammatical rules ever seem to be evenly applied without exceptions, and irregular verbs are no different. For most verbs in the English language, changing to past tense is as simple as adding 'ed' on the end. But then there's a whole host of words that don't conform to that rule. What gives?

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Some words and phrases sound like they should be interchangeable, or are so similar it's hard to tell the difference between. But in the complicated world of English grammar, even these subtle differences can change the entire meaning of a word. Here are 12 common words you need to be careful about mixing up.

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Some grammar mistakes manage to trip up the vast majority of writers. Take "affect" and "effect" -- no matter how many times this grammar rule is explained to people, many writers continue to mix them up. If you're regularly tripped up by homonyms such as "who's vs. whose" and "further vs. farther", this infographic is here to help.

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Of all the tricky grammar topics, who versus whom ranks right up there: get it wrong, and you risk looking like a rube. Get it right and you risk looking pretentious. Get it wrong in a different way and you risk looking like a pretentious rube. So we at Lifehacker, who want to be both right and non-pretentious (but only sometimes succeed), thought we'd do a little research and break down the whole who/whom thing once and for all.

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One-star reviews, in addition to being the least helpful kind of review, are also the longest and the worst-spelled. Data journalism blog Priceonomics analysed 100,000 online product reviews and found that 40 per cent of one-star reviews have at least one spelling mistake, vs. under 30 per cent of five-star reviews.

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No word receives as much lexical scorn as "irregardless" - I felt a shiver just typing it. But unlike the made-up terms it often gets lumped in with, including "supposably" and "sherbert", irregardless is technically a real word. The Merriam-Webster dictionary says so.

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Learning how to write is like learning how to play a musical instrument: Once you learn the basic rules -- grammar, spelling and punctuation -- and are writing technically correct sentences, there's a still the whole world of syntax, diction and style to conquer. And this is where writers, like musicians, have opinions: Is it better to write straightforward, no-frills prose, or to weave verbal flights of fancy that illustrate complex, poetic sentiments?

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iOS: For the past few years, I've been using Grammarly. The service corrects your spelling and grammar on the fly, and the Chrome extension is great for helping me catch tiny typos and misplaced commas in emails, or even posts on Lifehacker I'm adding to our CMS. Now Grammarly has extended to one more place: Your iPhone.

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Grammar prescriptivists -- who believe rules should be followed; "descriptivists" believe correct grammar is whatever works -- love to appeal to logic. If "he could care less," then he could care less -- you have to say "he couldn't"! It's the rock we cling to against the rising tide of literally-means-figuratively-now. Well, it may be time to loosen that grip, because the evolutionary forces of language extremely do not care.

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Once a week, for the past eight-odd years, I overhear it: "It's GIF, not JIF." "Actually, it's officially JIF." If the arguers are educated in the subject, they will rattle through their supporting arguments: It's JIF because its inventor says so and it's like "giraffe"; it's GIF because it stands for "graphics" and it's like "gift".

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Even smart people make stupid mistakes in their writing. Sometimes it’s laziness or impatience; sometimes they’re genuinely confused. Using data from millions of its subscribers, Microsoft recently rounded up a list of the top 10 grammar mistakes in the English language.

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Contrary to popular belief, commas don’t just signify pauses in a sentence. In fact, precise rules govern when to use this punctuation mark.

When followed, they lay the groundwork for clear written communication. We’ve compiled a list of all of the times when you need the mighty comma.

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Do you go to the store for "cupcakes, vanilla, and chocolate" or "cupcakes, vanilla and chocolate"? There's a long-running debate over whether it's proper to include that last comma in a list. Lifehacker's policy is to eschew it, but we have to admit that the so-called 'Oxford comma' does makes things clearer on occasion - as proven in a recent US lawsuit.

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Do you remember being taught you should never start your sentences with “And” or “But”?

What if I told you that your teachers were wrong and there are lots of other so-called grammar rules that we’ve probably been getting wrong in our English classrooms for years?