Commas and Adjectives

Most adults are familiar with the basic use of commas, but some of the rules (which go on and on and on) are less well known. Take the issue of adjectives. If you use two or more adjectives to describe something, do you put commas between them? The hard and fast rule: it depends. :)... Continue Reading →

The Oxford Comma

An Oxford comma is quite possibly the most debated bit of grammar. What? Controversy in grammar? Let me explain.The Oxford comma is that last comma in a series of three or more items. Example: I went walking with my dogs, John, and Bob. That comma after John is the Oxford comma. Some people think it's... Continue Reading →

Yes, Grammar Matters

In today's San Jose Mercury News, the Sunday Homes section, an article by Erik J. Martin validated my entire DOL program (which often causes major parent complaints for its insistence on details). Martin writes about a study that examined more than 100,000 listings for homes priced at a million dollars or above. Those listings with... Continue Reading →

Your is Not You’re

The misuse of this word is one that truly troubles me, and not because it's difficult. In fact, it's quite easy to remember which one to use when. I'm sure I'm not the only one who views misuse of this word as a neon sign that advertises your poor English skills. Some grammar rules are... Continue Reading →

Caring Less

A scathing I couldn't care less is a great way to handle a put down. Recently, though, I received an email asking the difference between that phrase and I could care less. They seem to be used interchangeably, but in fact their meanings are quite different. The website World Wide Words says this about the... Continue Reading →

Poor Me, I’m a Grammar Guru

Part of my new Grammar Monday feature--because who doesn't want to wake up on Monday morning to grammar? In sixth grade, I learned how to diagram sentences. We cut apart all the independent clauses, identified subjects and predicates, and circled parts of speech. For some reason, this all came very easily to me. I openly... Continue Reading →

Its or It’s?

Whether I'm reading or editing student work or adult work, one of the most common errors is the improper use of its. When teaching possessive, teachers usually say, "To make it possessive, add an apostrophe." That's true if you want to say Susie's book or the dog's bone. It's also true if have a plural... Continue Reading →

Verb Confusion: Set/Sit, Lay/Lie, Raise/Rise

The pairs of verbs listed in the title of this post often create havoc for writers of all abilities. Frequent misuse makes them almost interchangeable in our 'that sounds right' mental monitor. They are, however, NOT interchangeable, and it is easy to learn how to use them correctly. First, you need to understand what a... Continue Reading →


Lots of adults I know are as afraid of apostrophes as my students. They are constantly asking, "Does the apostrophe go before the 's' on this one?" Some give up and never write possessively about any noun ending in s.  That is hard if your main character is Chris. You'd have to make him own... Continue Reading →

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