Are You Writing for the Wrong Reasons?


I have been thinking about why I write for the past several weeks, and it has not been an easy ride. For one, there are different kinds of writing, and reasons for writing do not fall into the one-size-fits-all bucket. Still, I think that, for people who mainly make a living out of writing, the question is a good one to think about – when you do not have urgent deadlines looming, perhaps. Image source Let’s get the “I need to bring home the bacon” reason out of the way, because, let’s face it – we need to provide for [Read more…]

Spring Clean Your Writing Style

Image credit: Kimberly Back

The season of renewal has arrived! After you scrub your floors, rearrange your tchotchkes, and clear your closet, take some time to spruce up your writing skills. Whether you are a veteran or green to the writing scene, we all need a grammar refresher from time to time. Here are three quick tips for cleaning up your writing style this spring: Modify Misused Words Self-identified grammar nerds are irked when someone mistakes your and you’re or misuses affect and effect, but what about words that aren’t as obviously confusing? Scan your writing to ensure you don’t get tripped up by [Read more…]

It’s Not Wrong, Just Different

Grammar and style

I have not visited a different country this year (so far), and this has naturally led me to spend some time reminiscing about the my previous trips. One thing that struck me about visiting different Asian countries is a line I heard practically everywhere: “Same, same, but different.” The phrase was uttered in the context of people being the same (physical attributes for Asian tourists and the local shopkeepers) albeit with marked differences as well. That made me think about perspective, how things may seem so different that some people misconstrue them as “wrong” when in fact, they’re not. Where [Read more…]

Practical Tips to Make Sure Your Grammar Skills Stay Sharp

Good grammar

Being a stickler for grammar is not easy. Sure, you may have been that way for as long as you can remember, but I am sure that if you think about it, you will realize that it did take some work to get where you are right now. You started at some point. You learned – formal or not – one way or another. Good grammar may not cost you a thing in terms of money, but you do have to make a little bit of effort – at the very least – to ensure that you stay on top [Read more…]

Non-Errors in the English Language (Part 2)


If your high school English teach was anything like my teacher, she/he probably always emphasized the “rule” about NOT using conjunctions to begin your sentence.  “You must never begin a sentence with a conjunction” is the mantra of many an English teacher.  Just because “everyone” says it is a rule does not necessarily mean it is true, though.  In fact, many a grammar “expert” will tell you that this arbitrary rule does not hold much sway. I can go on and on and repeat that I believe that using conjunctions such as “but” and “and” to begin a sentence is [Read more…]

Happy Holidays – I’m Just Sayin’


No, I’m really wishing you all a great Christmas weekend.  It’s just that I came across an opinion piece over at NPR which deals with that phrase in the title.  I never really paid much attention to it whenever I heard it uttered by friends.  Even though I have somehow earned a reputation for correcting other people’s grammar (or flinching at least), I have been trying to be more tolerant in the past year.  After all, I also believe that language is so dynamic that changes are unavoidable. Scott Simon, however, simply cannot stand it when he hears “I’m just [Read more…]

Justifying a Comma Splice

In the last post, I talked about a major error in writing – a comma splice. As I mentioned in that post, there are some cases wherein using a comma splice just might be acceptable. In fact, this is in an ongoing debate. So when is a comma splice acceptable? According to Strunk & White, one can use a comma splice “when the clauses are very short and alike in form.” The most commonly cited example for this case is the popular line: I came, I saw, I conquered. Diana Hacker of A Writer’s Reference also gives some examples: Man [Read more…]

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