Monday, April 6, 2015

Common Mistakes on Punctuations: There, Their and They're

Improper use of punctuations can change the meaning of the sentence or phrase. That is why it is important to use the correct punctuations at the right place in a sentence. Here is one of the most common mistakes on Punctuations and Grammar:

They're VS There VS Their

They're is a contraction of they and are.
Example: I am glad they're nice.

There is used to refer to a place, either literal or figurative.
Example: There is a fairy living in the forest over there.

Their is the possessive for something that belowngs to a group of people.
Example: Yesterday, all my classmates had their teeth cleaned at the clinic.

Common Mistakes on Punctuations: Its and It's

Funny how improper use of punctuations can change the meaning of the sentence or phrase, isn't it?

That is why it is important to use the correct punctuations at the right place in a sentence. Here is one of the most common mistakes on Punctuations and Grammar:

Its and It's

Its is the possessive form for "it".

Example: The cat is taking care of its kittens.

It's is a contraction for it is or it has, NOT the possessive form for it. 

Example: It's (It is) important that you take a bath daily.

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Common Mistakes on Punctuations: You're VS Your

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Common Mistakes on Punctuations: You're VS Your

Funny how improper use of punctuations can change the meaning of the sentence or phrase, isn't it?

That is why it is important to use the correct punctuations at the right place in a sentence. Here is one of the most common mistakes on Punctuations and Grammar:

* You're and Your

- Although they sound the same, you're and your are quite different on paper.

You're is a combination of the words you and are.

For example:
You're (You are) the funniest person I have ever known. 

Monday, April 5, 2010

Subject-Verb Agreement

Rule#1. The indefinite pronouns anyone, everyone, someone, no one, nobody are always singular and, therefore, require singular verbs.
  • Everyone has done his or her homework.
  • Somebody has left her purse.
  • Some indefinite pronouns — such as all, some — are singular or plural depending on what they're referring to. (Is the thing referred to countable or not?) Be careful choosing a verb to accompany such pronouns.
  • Some of the beads are missing.
  • Some of the water is gone.
On the other hand, there is one indefinite pronoun, none, that can be either singular or plural; it often doesn't matter whether you use a singular or a plural verb — unless something else in the sentence determines its number. (Writers generally think of none as meaning not any and will choose a plural verb, as in "None of the engines are working," but when something else makes us regard none as meaning not one, we want a singular verb, as in "None of the food is fresh.")
  • None of you claims responsibility for this incident?
  • None of you claim responsibility for this incident?
  • None of the students have done their homework. (In this last example, the word their precludes the use of the singular verb.

Rule #2: Some indefinite pronouns are particularly troublesome Everyone and everybody (listed above, also) certainly feel like more than one person and, therefore, students are sometimes tempted to use a plural verb with them. They are always singular, though. Each is often followed by a prepositional phrase ending in a plural word (Each of the cars), thus confusing the verb choice. Each, too, is always singular and requires a singular verb.
    Everyone has finished his or her homework.
You would always say, "Everybody is here." This means that the word is singular and nothing will change that.
    Each of the students is responsible for doing his or her work in the library.
Don't let the word "students" confuse you; the subject is each and each is always singular — Each is responsible.

Rule #3:
Phrases such as together with, as well as, and along with are not the same as and. The phrase introduced by as well as or along with will modify the earlier word (mayor in this case), but it does not compound the subjects (as the word and would do).
  • The mayor as well as his brothers is going to prison.
  • The mayor and his brothers are going to jail. 
Rule #4:
The pronouns neither and either are singular and require singular verbs even though they seem to be referring, in a sense, to two things.
  • Neither of the two traffic lights is working.
  • Which shirt do you want for Christmas?
    Either is fine with me.
In informal writing, neither and either sometimes take a plural verb when these pronouns are followed by a prepositional phrase beginning with of. This is particularly true of interrogative constructions: "Have either of you two clowns read the assignment?" "Are either of you taking this seriously?" Burchfield calls this "a clash between notional and actual agreement."* 

Rule #5:
The conjunction or does not conjoin (as and does): when nor or or is used the subject closer to the verb determines the number of the verb. Whether the subject comes before or after the verb doesn't matter; the proximity determines the number.
  • Either my father or my brothers are going to sell the house.
  • Neither my brothers nor my father is going to sell the house.
  • Are either my brothers or my father responsible?
  • Is either my father or my brothers responsible?
Because a sentence like "Neither my brothers nor my father is going to sell the house" sounds peculiar, it is probably a good idea to put the plural subject closer to the verb whenever that is possible.

Rule #6
The words there and here are never subjects.
  • There are two reasons [plural subject] for this.
  • There is no reason for this.
  • Here are two apples.
With these constructions (called expletive constructions), the subject follows the verb but still determines the number of the verb.

Rule #7
Verbs in the present tense for third-person, singular subjects (he, she, it and anything those words can stand for) have s-endings. Other verbs do not add s-endings.
    He loves and she loves and they love_ and . . . .

Rule #8
Sometimes modifiers will get betwen a subject and its verb, but these modifiers must not confuse the agreement between the subject and its verb.
    The mayor, who has been convicted along with his four brothers on four counts of various crimes but who also seems, like a cat, to have several political lives, is finally going to jail.

Rule #9
Sometimes nouns take weird forms and can fool us into thinking they're plural when they're really singular and vice-versa. Consult the section on the Plural Forms of Nouns and the section on Collective Nouns for additional help. Words such as glasses, pants, pliers, and scissors are regarded as plural (and require plural verbs) unless they're preceded the phrase pair of (in which case the word pair becomes the subject).
  • My glasses were on the bed.
  • My pants were torn.
  • A pair of plaid trousers is in the closet.

Rule #10
Some words end in -s and appear to be plural but are really singular and require singular verbs.
  • The news from the front is bad.
  • Measles is a dangerous disease for pregnant women.
On the other hand, some words ending in -s refer to a single thing but are nonetheless plural and require a plural verb.
  • My assets were wiped out in the depression.
  • The average worker's earnings have gone up dramatically.
  • Our thanks go to the workers who supported the union.
The names of sports teams that do not end in "s" will take a plural verb: the Miami Heat have been looking … , The Connecticut Sun are hoping that new talent … . See the section on plurals for help with this problem.

Rule #11

Fractional expressions such as half of, a part of, a percentage of, a majority of are sometimes singular and sometimes plural, depending on the meaning. (The same is true, of course, when all, any, more, most and some act as subjects.) Sums and products of mathematical processes are expressed as singular and require singular verbs. The expression "more than one" (oddly enough) takes a singular verb: "More than one student has tried this."
  • Some of the voters are still angry.
  • A large percentage of the older population is voting against her.
  • Two-fifths of the troops were lost in the battle.
  • Two-fifths of the vineyard was destroyed by fire.
  • Forty percent of the students are in favor of changing the policy.
  • Forty percent of the student body is in favor of changing the policy.
  • Two and two is four.
  • Four times four divided by two is eight.
Rule #12  
If your sentence compounds a positive and a negative subject and one is plural, the other singular, the verb should agree with the positive subject.
  • The department members but not the chair have decided not to teach on Valentine's Day.
  • It is not the faculty members but the president who decides this issue.
  • It was the speaker, not his ideas, that has provoked the students to riot.

Take some practice Quiz on Subject-Verb Agreement here:

Related Links on


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Introduction: American English for Pinoys

We are Filipinos. We have been learning and speaking English ever since we were kids. We hear it every day on TV and on the radio. We read advertisements and other signs all around us in English. We have lots of English blogs on the Net. We even have ESL (English as Secondary Language) Tutorial facilities almost everywhere which makes our neighboring countries like Chinese, Japanese and Koreans come to our country to study English.

But according to statistics and some studies, only about 45% of the Filipino population can really speak and write in English with no or minimal flaws.

Although we are known as the third largest English-speaking country, most of the Filipinos may still revert to “carabao” English once in a while. I once heard a woman who spoke to her child,

“I told you do not go out. But you go out. Now look at.” 

Apparently, there are grammatical errors in that sentence but nevertheless, to us, Filipinos, it is already understandable. And perhaps even Americans can also understand what that sentence is trying to convey. So you may ask, what’s the use of improving our English skills? And why is it important to master American English just as what this blog promotes?

The answer is simple: American English is the lingua franca of the 21st-century world. Trust me, it pays to master American English.

However, please be aware that this blog is not an exhaustive grammar reference. It will not help you if you do not already speak English, and it will not make your English flawless on a pedantic Ph. D. level. I also commit grammatical errors at one point or another. I'm sure you can find one in this post.

As I am learning to become more proficient in the English language, I’m going to share with you guys what I have learned. This blog will try to help you:

• Enhance your written and oral English Skills.
• Find a better job (Call Center jobs has become a trend nowadays. And it is a must that you speak and understand American English very well in order to get in.)
Get a job abroad (especially in an English-speaking country)

I am a Filipino but I have a number of American friends here and abroad. I have learned that Americans will open up to you only to the degree that you can speak their language: English the way they speak it – American English that is.

So join me in my quest to polishing my American English skills. ^_^

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