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All the English You Will Ever Need


The English language is constantly evolving, both the words we use and the rules that control the usage of those words.  Therefore, it is impossible to ever have a definitive grammar guide, or, if you will, a Complete Guide of American English.  And that’s our excuse.



Word of the Every So Often

May 22, 2019

limn:  (verb)  (pronounced:  lim, with a silent "n,", just like "limb," which has a silent "b") to depict or describe in painting or words.  Once you finish limning what you saw, you're free to go.


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Monday, October 30, 2017

The Average Guy

A student recently mentioned "the average guy" on a paper, and it got me wondering:  What is an average guy?  So I googled it, and I found out that the average guy is a Chinese Christian named Muhammad who has less than an eighth grade education and makes less than three thousand dollars a year.  In short, it's not you.

10:14 am pdt 

Friday, October 27, 2017

The "Period Test"

Commas driving you crazy?  Then try the "Period Test."  Just follow that friendly hyperlink.  But be forewarned:  The "Period Test" only works if you already understand what a Complete Sentence is. 

10:38 am pdt 

Monday, October 23, 2017

Would Be

"Would be" is one of the most misused phrases in current American English usage.  If you start listening for it, you will hear it all around you.  It's especially obvious with sportscasters, who are not widely known for their ability to speak coherently, and especially without using clichés. 

Using "would" is fine if you are asking a question:  Would you like to go to the Prom?

Or, if you are creating a conditional statement:  You would... but not with me.

Basically, a conditional statement is one that would be true, but only under certain circumstances.  Notice how I used "would" twice above, and each time it was followed by "but" (what I like to call a "but" clause).  Pretty much, you're saying, "If this would happen, then this would be the result."  Or, you can turn it around:  "It would be this, if this were to happen."  Or even, "This would be the case, but these things keep it from happening."

Here's the test for using "would be." 

  • First, ask yourself if the conditions have changed.  For instance, is this something you used to do, but for whatever reason you no longer do?  If that is the case, then use "would."
  • If the conditions have not changed – in other words, if it something you still like doing – then don't use "would."
  • Replace it with "is" (or whatever the conjugation might be).  If "is" or "was" or "were" will work there, then it's probably the word you should use.

1:52 pm pdt 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Is a soft, warm fact less true than a cold, hard fact?
4:24 pm pdt 

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