daylight saving time vs daylight savings time

20130728-194957.jpgIn many parts of North America, the first Sunday in March is the official day to “Spring Forward” and set clocks ahead by one hour. The correct term for this annual event is “daylight saving time”, because that is the original purpose: to save an hour of daylight and use that hour at the end of the day in order to have more time to work. “Daylight savings time” is incorrect.
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Conjunctions: It’s All About Joining

School_House_Rock!“Conjunction.” One of my favorite words. As most of remember from grammar or primary school, a conjunction is a word that connects parts of a sentence. However, did you know there are several different types of conjunctions?

The original type of conjunction that we were all taught is called a “coordinating conjunction”: and, but, or, yet, for, nor, so. When these coordinating conjunctions connect two independent clauses (those that can stand alone with full meaning), they are usually (but not always) preceded by a comma.

  • My new puppy likes to eat, but his stomach is so small he can only eat a little at a time.

The next type of conjunction is called a “subordinating conjunction” which begins a dependent clause-a clause that depends on the rest of the sentence to derive its meaning. Well-known subordinating conjunctions (which can also be used as prepositions) include: after, as, if only, though, unless, whereas, even though, than, that, in order that.

Correlative conjunctions are used in pairs in sentences, joining sentence elements that are not right next to each other: both…and, neither…nor, whether…or, not only…but also, either…or.

  • “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.”
  • “Whether you win the race or lose it, what matters most is that you tried.”

Now that you have learned about all kinds of conjunctions, it’s time for a 1970s flashback, enjoy “Conjunction Junction” by School House Rock!

Pique, Peek, or Peak?

ComputerManArrowsandQuestionsThe word “pique” comes from the French and means to “excite”, as in to “pique one’s interest” [in something].

Use “peek” when sneaking a look at something.

When you arrive at the “peak” of something, you are at the top or uppermost point.

Still confused by the meanings of similar words in the English language? Let the professionals at Writing It Right For You help you out! Contact us today!

Affect or Effect?

Affect and effect are two of the most-often confused words in the English language. The simple rule is:
* affect spelled with an “a” is usually a verb that shows some kind of action. The simple definition of affect is “to influence” or “to make happen”. How will eating chocolate cake for every meal affect my weight?
* effect spelled with an “e” is usually a noun that names something. The simple definition of effect is “a result”. The effect of my choice of chocolate cake for every meal was a big change in my weight.

The two words seem to sound alike, but actually there is a slight difference in pronunciation between “uh-fect” (affect) and “eh-fect” (effect).

Use the verb affect when you are describing how one thing has an impact upon another thing.

Use the noun effect when you are showing the result of an action or feeling.

Since this is the English language we’re talking about, there are some exceptions to this grammar rule. In psychology, affect can be used differently; and effect can sometimes be use as a verb.

If you need writing or editing assistance with the very confusing English language rules, contact the professionals at Writing It Right For You. We’re here to help because “It Matters How You Say It”!

Daily Grammar Tip: cowered vs coward

25483010_sThe verb “cower” means to crouch down in fear, and “cowered” is the past tense of cower. A “coward” is a fearful or weak person; the word is a noun. Therefore, cowered (with a Nordic root) and coward (with a French root) may sound similar, and they may even have similar connotations, but they are different and should not be confused in your writing.

Credit: Common Errors in English Usage

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Daily Grammar Tip: everyday or every day?

Writing It Right For You - English Grammar Usage TipsThe word “everyday” is an adjective; it modifies a noun, as in “…my everyday clothes.” However, when you are using the adverbial phrase “every day”, make sure that you write it as two words. How often do you eat breakfast? Hopefully, you eat breakfast every day; but you might set the table with your everyday dishes.

Credit: “Common Errors in English Usage”

 

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Happy Spring! Is it an equinox or a solstice?

Question Person

Happy Spring Equinox! It’s the official first day of spring, FINALLY!

We are re-publishing this post to celebrate the Spring Equinox in the northern hemisphere.

Here is another word pair that is often misused or misunderstood. Both words define the annual path of the Sun.

 

Revolving earth at winter solstice on the nort...
Revolving earth at winter solstice on the northern hemisphere. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“equinox”: there are two sets of days of the year when the Sun crosses the equator and the length of the day and the night are equal (hence, “equinox”). The vernal equinox is in the spring about March 20-21, and the autumnal equinox occurs in the fall (autumn) around September 22-23. These dates are for the northern hemisphere, the vernal and autumnal equinoxes are reversed in the southern hemisphere. The word “equinox” comes from the Latin equinoxium, which translates to “equality between day and night”.

“solstice”: the solstice also occurs twice a year–once when the Sun is at its northernmost point (at the Tropic of Cancer) and again when the Sun is at its southernmost point (at the Tropic of Capricorn). The summer solstice in the northern hemisphere and the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere occurs about June 21-22. The winter solstice in the northern hemisphere and the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere occurs about December 21. The word “solstice” comes from the Latin solstitium which translates to “sun standing still”. During each solstice, it seems as if the Sun is standing still.

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Leave us any questions you have about confusing word pairs in the comments section!

 

 

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similar to/different from

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Disclaimer: You know that I am an English teacher, don’t you? Welcome to your English lesson for today: how to correctly use these two common phrases.

Recently I have heard these prepositional phrases used incorrectly. What is a prepositional phrase, you ask? That question has a simple answer: it is a phrase (an incomplete sentence) that includes a preposition (words that show a spatial relationship–especially those that show direction).

When I taught elementary school, my favorite way to teach prepositional phrases was to have my students sing that classic Thanksgiving song: “Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother’s house we go…”

The words “to” and “from” are prepositions, so the phrases “similar to” and “different from” are prepositional phrases, but it is important to use the correct prepositions to use with the adjectives (descriptive modifiers of nouns).

There is a commercial currently running about dentures adhesive where the actress playing a dentist says: “…dentures are very different to real teeth.” Yikes! She should be saying “different from real teeth.

The word “similar” means almost alike, so one noun in the comparison is actually coming towards (or to) the other noun. The word “different” means not alike, so one noun is actually moving away (or from) the other noun in the comparison.

Please be grammatically correct and when comparing two nouns, say either “similar to” or “different from”. You will sound and be so smart!

Class dismissed!

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AM / PM

20130728-194957.jpg“AM” stands for Ante Meridiem, it’s a Latin phrase that means “before noon,” and “PM” Post Meridiem means “after noon.” You should avoid the expression “12:00 PM” to designate noon,  not only because it is incorrect, but because it can be confused with midnight . The same goes for “12:00 AM.” The correct will be “twelve noon” when you want to designate a precise time.

If you need writing or editing assistance with the very confusing English language rules, Contact theprofessionals at Writing It Right For You.

We’re here to help because “It Matters How You Say It”!

Visit Common Errors in English for more tips like this.

These are them / These are they

Most people won’t complain about either one, but if you want to stay on the good side of the grammar, you should use “these are they.” This is because the pronoun after the verb should be in the same grammatical form as the subject. “They” is the subject pronoun, while “them” is an object pronoun, so you should opt for “these are they” instead of “these are them”.

If you need writing or editing assistance with the very confusing English language rules, Contact the

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professionals at Writing It Right For You.

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Nonplussed

“Nonplussed” is an adjective and applies when a person is  very confused about a situation and is unsure how to react. It does not mean that a person is calm or in control.

If you need writing or editing assistance with the very confusing English language rules, Contact the

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professionals at Writing It Right For You.

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advocate for/advocate

“Advocate” is a verb and it is also a noun. For example, if used as a noun, you can be an advocate of civil rights. If used as verb, you advocate (or not)  something/somebody. Example:

Noun: I am an advocate for factory workers.

Verb: I do not advocate the use of arms.

If you need writing or editing assistance with the very confusing English language rules, Contact the

20130728-194957.jpg

professionals at Writing It Right For You.

We’re here to help because “It Matters How You Say It”!

Visit Common Errors in English for more tips like this.