Category: The Merry Grammarian

RebeccaRebecca Mahoney is an award-winning writer, book editor and freelance journalist from New Hampshire. As an editor and writing coach, she has a passion for helping aspiring writers improve their writing and achieve their publishing dreams. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including the Boston Globe, the Miami Herald, and the Los Angeles Times, as well as in numerous literary journals. She loves to travel and her fiction often explores the relationship between women and place. She holds an MFA in Fiction and a BA in English/Journalism. Find out more about her at

The Singular Use of “They”

We grammarians love to talk about the “rules” of grammar, as though grammar is something firm and unchanging. But the truth is, grammar—like the English language itself—is always evolving, and sometimes we have to adjust to a new way of

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Staying Mindful of Initial –ING Verbs

As writers, we’re often taught to vary our sentence construction. Sentences that are always the same length, with the same general syntax, are boring. Good writing has a rhythm, and part of that rhythm comes from using a mix of

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Effect vs Affect

The email made me cringe: “It’s going to effect everything,” she wrote. Did you catch the error? It was the word “effect” – in this case, it should have been “affect.” Misusing “effect” and “affect” is one of the most

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Our Mission: To Boldly Explore Infinitives

If you’ve ever watched Star Trek, you’ve witnessed a controversy. No, I’m not talking about Captain Kirk’s excessively tight shirt, or the show’s moral and environmental subtext. I’m talking about a grammar controversy, and it happens right in the title

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Eliminating Expletives (the other kind)

Let’s talk about expletives, shall we? No, I’m not talking about thosekinds of expletives—I’m talking about expletives in grammar—specifically, a type of sentence structure called expletive construction. Expletive construction is when you start with a phrase that does not add

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