This is the first of more to come…..
The following serves to honor my mother, Johnnie Mae Hall Brown, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of her birth on November 18, 1919. She was a highly revered, student-centric high school teacher of the English language, particularly the practice of the use of proper grammar. Even as a young child, I became a student.
A few Don’t’s and Do’s:
Prepositions . . .
Don’t end a sentence with a preposition. Do:
- I don’t know where they came from. I don’t know from where they came.
- Where do you live at? Where do you live?
- What did you do that for? Why did you do that?
- Who are they going with? With whom are they going,
- The box is what I put it in. I placed it in the box.
- The project is what they are committed to. They are committed to the project.
- The Bible is what I live by. I live by the Bible.
- Such is what we are made of. We are made of such.
- She is who we were are calling on. We were calling on her.
Fewer vs. Less . . .
Don’t use less when fewer is correct. Fewer is used for things you can count, and less is used for things you don’t count. Also, use less when followed by a singular noun and fewer when followed by a plural noun.
- Please check out here if you have less than ten items. Check out here if you have fewer than ten items.
- She has lost less than 20 pounds. She lost fewer than 20 pounds.
- We were less than 50 miles from home. We were fewer than 50 miles for home.
- We wanted one less banana is okay….Also, we had fewer bananas than we wanted,
Punctuation with Quotation Marks . . .
Don’t place the punctuation outside the quotation marks; it’s always inside:
- The name of the book is “Moby Dick.”
- That’s “Wizard of Oz,” a movie about Dorothy.
Was vs. Were . . .
Don’t use was after “if” and “wish,” it’s always were;
- What if the new quarterback was Johnny Unitas? What if the new quarterback were Johnny Unitas.
- I wish our team was better than yours. I wish our team were better than yours.
Between vs. Among . . .
Don’t use “between” for a reference “among” three or more. Don’t use “among” when it’s just two:
- That’s always among the two of us. That’s always between the two of us.
- That’s always an issue between my sisters and me. That’s always an issue among my sisters and me.
Whether vs. Whether or Not . . .
Don’t use “whether or not” when “whether” will be just fine.
- When the choice is “up to you,” you can generally use “whether.” I did not know whether (or “if”) I should wear a tie.
Only use “whether or not” if you mean “regardless of whether”:
- I’m out of here whether or not you like it.
Possessive Pronoun Usage Before a Gerund….
- Your (not you) leaving early was a wise decision.
- We celebrated Tech’s (not Tech) winning the game.
- Bob objected to my (not me) borrowing his books.
The plural goes where?…
- Fathers-in-law…. Not Father-in-laws
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