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English and Grammar Rules

Get a daily English or grammar rule that you can understand and use.

Last Build Date: Fri, 03 Oct 2014 07:49:07 +0000


English Grammar Rule - BROOCH or BROACH?

Tue, 12 Dec 2006 16:02:00 +0000

Today's English grammar rule reviews BROOCH and BROACH. Although the two words sound the same, they are very different. Unfortunately, many people who do not know the correct meaning of BROACH often accept it to mean BROOCH.

BROOCH(image) is a clip-on or pin-on piece of jewelry or ornamentation.

BROACH is both a noun and a verb. In its noun form, BROACH is a tool used to cut, puncture, or pierce. In its verb form, BROACH means to open or break into.

English Grammar Rule - DIVED or DOVE?

Fri, 08 Dec 2006 14:58:00 +0000

Today's English grammar rule reviews DOVE and DIVED. Although DOVE is commonly used as a past-tense form of the word DIVE, it is still considered non-standard English by many. The more commonly accepted DIVED should be used in academic writing.

Today's recommended book: Lonesome Dove: A Novel (Simon & Schuster Classics) (Hardcover).(image)

English Grammar Rule - BROUGHT, BRUNG, BRANG

Thu, 07 Dec 2006 14:05:00 +0000

Today’s English Grammar rule reviews the words BROUGHT, BRUNG, and BRANG.

Of course, BRUNG and BRANG are non-standard past-tense forms of BRING. Do NOT use BRUNG or BRANG; always use BROUGHT as the past-tense form of BRING, which means TO TAKE SOMETHING ALONG.

Today’s recommended book is The Tale of Three Trees: A Traditional Folktale (Hardcover)(image) - and you can get the leather-bound edition for less than $11.

English Grammar Rule - Bust or Burst?

Wed, 06 Dec 2006 16:59:00 +0000

Today's English Grammar rule looks at BUST and BURST.

BUST is a sculptured, painted, drawn, or engraved representation of the upper part of the human figure, esp. a portrait sculpture showing only the head and shoulders of the subject. It is also the chest or breast, esp. a woman's bosom.

BUST is NOT correct usage to describe an item that has shattered or broken, such as a balloon that has burst; nor is it correct usage to describe a person who has been caught doing something illegal or unacceptable.

BURST is the word that should be used to describe an item that shatters or breaks, such as a balloon bursting.

Today's recommended book is The Universe in Gamma Rays(image)

English Grammar Rule - Cement or Concrete?

Tue, 05 Dec 2006 20:20:00 +0000

Today's English Grammar rule reviews the difference between cement and concrete.

CEMENT is the raw product, the powder that normally comes in bags, also called sacrete, which further confuses the terms CEMENT and CONCRETE.

CONCRETE is the hardened, finished product, such as a concrete sideway or concrete driveway.

Today's recommended book is Concrete at Home: Innovative Forms and Finishes: Countertops, Floors, Walls, and Fireplaces(image)

English Grammar Rule - Peak, Pique, or Peek?

Sun, 03 Dec 2006 12:04:00 +0000

Today’s English Grammar Rule defines peak, pique, and peek. Most people do not realize that they are using peak when they should be using pique. Pique means to stimulate or start, as in “The book piqued my interest in politics.” Peak is a pinnacle or highest point, such as the peak of a mountain. Peek means to take a quick look at something.

Today’s Recommended book is A Guide to Misused, Misunderstood and Confusing Words(image)

English Grammar Rule - Democrat or Democratic?

Sat, 02 Dec 2006 15:02:00 +0000

Today’s English Grammar rule discusses the terms Democrat and Democratic. There are two major political parties in the United States: Democrats and Republicans. Both parties are democratic, which means adhering to the belief that all people are socially equal and that their government exists to support that premise and empower its people.
When people refer to the Democrat party as the democratic party, they are not incorrect; but it should also be stated that the republican party is a democratic party.

Today’s Recommended book is Grammatically Correct: The Writer's Essential Guide to Punctuation, Spelling, Style, Usage and Grammar(image)

English Grammar Rule - A LOT or ALOT?

Fri, 01 Dec 2006 17:44:00 +0000

Today’s English Grammar Rule reviews A LOT and ALOT.

Some believe that the phrase A LOT was put together because the English language also has the word ALLOT, which is a verb that means to grant something or apportion. There is no word in our language that is spelled ALOT. If you cannot remember whether to use A LOT or ALOT, just remember that you would never use this spelling ALITTLE to mean a small quantity. So, if that seemed complicated, what I’m trying to say is that you should NOT use ALOT, spelled without a space; always use A LOT, spelled with a space.

Today's Recommended Book(image)

English Grammar Rule - Regardless or Irregardless?

Thu, 30 Nov 2006 13:23:00 +0000

Today’s English Grammar rule discusses the words REGARDLESS and IRREGARDLESS.

REGARDLESS mean NOT to regard or consider something, the meaning given by the suffix LESS, so this term is considered a negative. The prefix IR also causes a word to become a negative, so when combined with the suffix LESS, one creates a double negative in one word. In other words, IRREGARDLESS makes no sense and is improper.

Do not use the term IRREGARDLESS; instead, use REGARDLESS.

English Grammar Rule - Assure, Ensure, Insure

Wed, 29 Nov 2006 14:21:00 +0000

Today's English Grammar Rule discusses the three similar words assure, ensure, and insure.

ASSURE means to give confidence; ENSURE means to confirm something; and INSURE means to obtain an insurance policy. See the sentences below that exemplify the proper usage of each word.

ASSURE: The student assured me that he would not be late for his tutoring session.

ENSURE: I called to ensure that the caterers would arrive by noon.

INSURE: Both automobiles are insured for liability only.

English Grammar Rule - Sneaked or Snuck?

Sun, 26 Nov 2006 13:12:00 +0000

Today's English grammar rule is SNEAKED OR SNUCK.

SNUCK is NOT the past tense for SNEAK, although I hear it and I read it in students' papers. If you have an occassion for using the past tense of SNEAK, it's safer to use SNEAKED, rather than SNUCK.

Tune in tomorrow for another English grammar rule.

English Grammar Rule - Who's or Whose?

Fri, 24 Nov 2006 15:53:00 +0000

Today's English Grammar Rule reviews when to use WHO'S and WHOSE.

WHO’S and WHOSE is very similar to IT’S and ITS. Just like IT’S always means IT IS, WHO’S always means WHO IS. And just like ITS shows possession without an apostrophe, so does WHOSE. Below are examples that illustrate the correct usage of both:

WHO’S – Who’s (who is) going to host Thanksgiving this year?
WHOSE – Whose essay won the Chancellor prize?

English Grammar Rule - Composed of or Comprises

Wed, 22 Nov 2006 16:17:00 +0000

The most common misuse of COMPRISE is that people substitute it for IS COMPOSED OF, which is incorrect. COMPRISE means CONSITUTES. The key to using COMPRISE correctly is to test the sentence by substituting the word CONSTITUES for COMPRISE. If that word sound correct, then you've used COMPRISE correctly. Typically, a sentence that uses IS COMPOSED OF will be the reverse of a sentence that uses COMPRISE. Below are sentences to illustrate correct usage for each word.

COMPRISE: Research, MLA guidelines, and structure comprise first-year college writing.
COMPOSE: First-year college writing is composed of research, MLA guidelines, and structure.

English Grammar Rule - Medium and Median

Tue, 21 Nov 2006 15:46:00 +0000

Today's English Grammar Rule defines the often misused terms median and medium:

Median in the barrier (usually grassy or concrete) between lanes of traffic on a roadway; the midpoint in a series of numbers--but not necessarily the average, a term used in statistics that indicates the midpoint of distribution.

Medium has several definitions: average quantity or quality, someone who serves as an liaison between the living and the dead, a means for storing or communicating information (plural is media), and there are several other widely accepted definitions for this word.

Come back tomorrow for another English Grammar Rule.

English Grammar Rule - Cut the Muster or Mustard?

Mon, 20 Nov 2006 14:07:00 +0000

The saying (idiom) goes like this: Cut the Muster, not Cut the Mustard. The modern sense of the idiom is to succeed; to have the ability to do something; to come up to expectations.

Etymology or history: Its proponents often trace it to the American Civil War. We do have the analogous expression To pass muster, which probably first suggested this alternative; but although the origins of cut the mustard are somewhat obscure, the latter is definitely the form used in various sources of writing throughout the twentieth century. Common sense would suggest that a person cutting a muster is not someone being selected as fit, but someone eliminating the unfit.

Anecdote or Antidote?

Sun, 19 Nov 2006 13:26:00 +0000

Anecdote is a stort story, often humorous or relating events.
Antidote is a medicine, often counteracting poison.

Anecdote - The mothers all told similar anecdotes about their children's reaction to liver.
Antidote - Doctor Morrison immediately prescribed an antidote for snake bite.

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Corp, Core, or Corpse?

Thu, 16 Nov 2006 22:42:00 +0000

A CORPS is an organization, like the Marine Corps. A CORE is the inside or guts, such as an apple core. A CORPSE is a dead body.

Allude and Elude

Mon, 13 Nov 2006 16:54:00 +0000

Allude means to refer to something. Elude means to escape.

Allude: The book constantly alludes to Marine corp values.
Elude: The thief eluded the police for only a day.

English Grammar Rule: Pronunciation of Illinois

Sat, 11 Nov 2006 15:30:00 +0000

The final S in the state of Illinois is silent. The ending sound should rhyme with boy, toy, soy. The state’s final syllable should NOT rhyme with noise. And for those trivia buffs out there: Illinois was a tribe of Native American Indians. They were known as Illinois or Illiniwek Indians who occupied a large portion of the Mississippi River valley. They were indispensable allies of French fur traders and colonists who came to live in the area now known as the Midwestern United States.

English Grammar Rule - Its or It's

Thu, 09 Nov 2006 14:02:00 +0000

IT'S = IT IS, always. When you use IT'S - with an apostrophe, it means IT IS. ALWAYS, NO MATTER WHAT.

Examples (the first two are incorrect; the last three are correct):

The dog lost it's (it is) bone.
The site is notable for it's (it is) collection.
It's (it is) a story of two cities.
We think it's (it is) easy.
It's (it is) only a dream.

I do understand why people do this: that fuzzy rule about possession, i.e., use an apostrophe to show ownership.

Its = possessive pronoun, that means it was created specifically so that you wouldn't have to use an apostrophe to show ownership.

The dog lost its bone.
The site is notable for its extensive collection of links to resources.

It's not so difficult, is it?

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English Grammar Rule - Broke and Broken

Tue, 07 Nov 2006 23:45:00 +0000

If you break something, it’s broken, not broke.

When you spend all your money, you're broke, not broken.

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English Grammar Rule - All together or Altogether?

Tue, 07 Nov 2006 23:39:00 +0000

The word “altogether” means “completely” or “entirely.”

For example: When I first started teaching, I was altogether baffled.

The words “all together” mean “in a group.”

For example: The students were all together in the hall.

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Grammar Rules: That versus Which

Tue, 31 Oct 2006 23:03:00 +0000

grammar rule, english grammar, grammar check, grammar help
"That" is used when essential information follows.

"Which" is used when non-essential information.

The rules are a little more complicated, but those are the basics.



  • Funding is used to help companies that have been approved by the government.
  • The file cabinets hold IRS returns that have been filed.


  • Non-fiction books are on the back shelf, which is a bit of a walk from here.
  • Retrievers are touted as being the best dogs around children, which is better for your needs.

By the way, "Who" refers to people. "That" and "which" refer to things, so don't use "that" when referring to people.
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English Grammar Rules: Good or Well?

Sun, 29 Oct 2006 14:53:00 +0000

I’ll never forget my 7th-grade Language Arts teacher telling us that we “could never do anything good.”

Yes, it seems a bit harsh, but it’s true, and it’s the method she used to help us understand when to use WELL and when to use GOOD.

WELL – an adverb, which describes HOW something is done.

  • Shelley rides really well. (Describes how she rides.)
  • Chad paints so well that his teacher is recommending him for the scholarship. (Describes how he paints.)
  • Would you say she writes well? (Describes how she writes.)

GOOD – an adjective, which describes a NOUN (person, place, thing, idea, or concept).

  • The lasagna is so good. (Describes the lasagna.)
  • The writer is better than good; he’s fabulous! (Describes the writer.)
  • It was a good website that had up-to-date information. (Describes the website.)


  • It was good plan, and it was carried out well. (Good describes the plan, and well describes how it was carried out.)
  • She’s a good architect, and her work is well received. (Good describes the architect, and well describes how her work is received.)

Confusing Words...

Thu, 26 Oct 2006 18:36:00 +0000

grammar, grammar rule, english grammar, grammar check, grammar help

There are several words that seem to perplex many, much of the time…

  • Traveling or Travelling
  • Canceled or Cancelled
  • Adviser or Advisor
  • All ready or Already
  • I.E. or E.G.
  • Awhile or A While

Let’s take a look at each set of words:grammar, grammar rule, english grammar, grammar check, grammar help
Traveling or Travelling? Seems that using one L is more acceptable in the US, but using two Ls is common abroad.

Canceled or Cancelled? Again, it seems we Americans are the efficient ones, using only one L. Oxord Concise Dictionary says cancelled, but Merriam-Webster says either way. MS Word didn’t squiggle either spelling!
grammar, grammar rule, english grammar, grammar check, grammar help
Adviser or Advisor? The Columbia Guide to Standard English says BOTH are correct noun forms of the word Advise.grammar, grammar rule, english grammar, grammar check, grammar help
All ready or Already? These are different words that are sometimes misused. Already is an adverb used to describe something that has happened before a certain time, as in “Are you coming? I’ve already got my jacket.” All ready is a phrase meaning completely prepared, as in “As soon as I put on my jacket, I’ll be all ready.”grammar, grammar rule, english grammar, grammar check, grammar help
I.Ee., or E.G., ? Again two separate meanings.

"I.e." means "that is," which is short for a Latin phrase. "I.e." is used in place of "in other words," or "it/that is."

"E.g." means "for example" and also comes from a Latin expression. "E.g." is normally used before an example.

Awhile or A While? Awhile is an adverb, which means "for a while," for example, “I walked awhile before I became tired.” A while is two words: the article “a” plus a noun, used primarily after the word “for,” for example, “I thought for a while before I answered.”

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