Common Mistakes: “Challenging”

“I am a qualified candidate with a challenging personality.” This kind of phrasing appears on resumes and in cover letters from ESL writers fairly often. Yet, the word “challenging” does not express the intended meaning in this context — it actually suggests a negative impression of your character. Read on to learn all the details! History &... Continue Reading →

Vocab Lab: Kudos

“Kudos to Steve for that great presentation!” This is one of those unusual words that tend to turn up only occasionally in academic situations, but that most native speakers will recognize. What does it mean, though, and where did it come from? History & Definition The word itself, kudos, comes from the ancient Greek word... Continue Reading →

When do you use a comma before “including” or “such as”?

“I met so many interesting people, including a writer, a photographer, and an aviator.” Words like “including” or “such as” are often used to introduce examples that further explain something mentioned in the sentence. They suggest that you are going to list just a few of the relevant items. If you removed the comma from... Continue Reading →

Introductory Phrases

“The other day, I met an old friend.” When writing a sentence, sometimes you may wish to set the scene for your statement by using an introductory phrase. In the example above, the phrase “the other day” provides the context for the independent clause that follows. Introductory phrases can come in a range of types — learn... Continue Reading →

Relative Clauses: Who, That, Which, etc.

“The cat that climbed the tree was gray with a spot on its nose.” In this sentence, “that climbed the tree” acts as a relative clause, giving you more information about the subject (the cat). Relative clauses are frequently used in English writing and are an important descriptive tool. However, punctuating these clauses correctly depends... Continue Reading →

How to Use an Interrupter

“Hey, what’s your name?” In this example, the exclamation of “hey” acts as an interrupter. The part following the comma is the independent clause that makes up the basic sentence. An interrupter can be any one of a wide rage of phrases that interrupts the surrounding sentence. Using an interrupter can help to make your... Continue Reading →

How to Use an Appositive

“I called my friend, JJ, to tell him about all our plans!” Have you seen sentences like this that re-state the subject? The part that’s offset by commas re-names the subject, giving more specific information. This grammar structure is called an appositive, and you can use it to introduce or clarify the topic you’re writing... Continue Reading →

Vocab Lab: Myriad

“There are a myriad of options!” the travel agent exclaimed, showing a handful of flyers. What’s that word in the middle? “Myriad” isn’t the most common of words, but it is sometimes used in English writing to add spice and variety. History & Definition The word “myriad” as used today comes from the ancient greek... Continue Reading →

Sentence Structure: Compound Predicates

“I want to bake a cake and eat it all!” This sentence has just one subject but two verbs. To complement the previous article on compound subjects, this time we’ll discuss compound predicates. Compound predicates allow you to make your writing sound more smooth and natural by combining events that occur to the same subject.... Continue Reading →

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