GrammarPhile Blog

Evie eat it my muffin!

Posted by Conni Eversull   Jun 21, 2011 5:30:00 AM

You’re probably thinking “What does that title mean and what does it have to do with grammar and punctuation and writing?” Well, today, I thought I’d take a little break from our standard posts. I don’t know about you, but with summer almost here I know I’m starting to look forward to long hot summer days and some vacation time. So, here’s a post from a lighter side.

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Topics: sentences, documents, punctuation, grammar, pronouns, verbs

Grammar Questions Answered

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Mar 22, 2011 5:30:00 AM

Here are some questions we've received from readers and clients, followed by our answers. Hope you find these helpful!

Question:  Would you hyphenate "we must perform our work with a high-level of technical expertise, professionalism, and integrity"?

Answer:  In this example, there should be no hyphen in "high level" - that's because it is not a compound adjective. "Level" is a noun that is modified by "high."

Now, if you take out the word "of" there, then "high-level" becomes a compound adjective and it IS hyphenated. "We need high-level expertise in order to compete."

More examples:

  • He displayed a high level of intelligence.
  • She is a high-level consultant at Monsanto.
  • They sought higher-level access at the Kennedy Space Center.
  • He showed a high level of interest in our design.

Question:  It is my understanding that abbreviations such as "etc., i.e., and e.g." are only used parenthetically, if at all. Why not simply write "and so forth, that is, and for example"?

Answer:  Yes, why not use "that is" and "for example"? Well, sometimes people want to be quicker with their writing, so abbreviations are brought in. Some clients of ours have in their style guides prohibitions on using these abbreviations, but most people rely on them, we see.

The biggest trouble we see with them is when writers confuse them, using "i.e." when they mean "e.g." And in British form, neither takes a comma, whereas in American form, both take commas.

Style guides say it's a matter of personal preference. We'd never change "for example" to "e.g." in a client document, and we'd only change "e.g." to "for example" if the style guide directed us to.

Question:  What's the rule for writing the name of a newsletter--italicized or underlined?

Answer:  Chicago style (Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition) has this:

CMS8.2: Chicago prefers italics to set off titles of major or freestanding works such as books, journals, movies, and paintings...Quotation marks are usually reserved for the titles of subsections of larger works--including chapter and article titles and the titles of poems that have been collected into a series.

Chicago does not use underlining at all, apparently.

So, we suggest putting a newsletter title in italics.

Do you have any questions you'd like our grammar experts to answer? Click here to submit your question!

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Topics: hyphenation, italicize, adjectives, abbreviations, grammar, Chicago Manual of Style

Try and... or Try to...

Posted by Conni Eversull   Feb 1, 2011 5:30:00 AM

The following guest post was written by one of our former editors, Lynnette Goldy. Here's an example of something that really gets Lynnette steaming!

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Topics: grammar

Mother, May I?

Posted by Kimberly Largent   Nov 16, 2010 4:30:00 AM

Everyone remembers that childhood game, right? The one where you couldn’t take a step forward unless you asked the game leader, “Mother, May I?” Funny how we were grammatical as children, but we lost that ability as we aged.

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Topics: misused words, word usage, grammar

Question: Straight or Curved Quotes?

Posted by Conni Eversull   Sep 14, 2010 5:30:00 AM

We receive lots of grammar and punctuation questions from customers and visitors to our site. This week, I thought I'd post a question we received about quotations along with Phil Jamieson's answer. In coming weeks, I'll post some of the other questions we've received along with their answers.

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Topics: quotations, business writing, punctuation, grammar

How to Adapt Your Writing Style to Your Business

Posted by Conni Eversull   Jul 13, 2010 5:00:00 AM

The following is a guest post written by Kyle Simpson.

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Topics: spelling, grammar, writing style, vocabulary

Writing for Business -- Create a Professional Image

Posted by Conni Eversull   Jun 18, 2010 10:48:00 AM

I recently had a conversation with Rick Roberge who told me what a great service our company provides. Rick, a sales coach and trainer, said he believes that every salesperson who writes proposals, e-mails, letters, etc., should incorporate proofreading as a standard part of their business writing process.  Rick then went on to write a blog post about this topic.

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Topics: writing guidelines, business writing, proofreading, proposals, grammar, writing style, writing

Advertising Agencies Hiring Now!?

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Mar 15, 2010 10:36:00 AM

Sure, this is a diversion from grammar, but many in our market are from ad agencies, so this article in AdAge was interesting to us at What about it? Is your ad agency hiring now? Do you see significant growth opportunities in 2010? Tell us!

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Topics: grammar, hiring, employment

Formal vs. Informal -- Informal Doesn't Mean Incorrect Grammar

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Feb 4, 2010 5:00:00 AM

Often in our writing the issue is not one of correct grammar or spelling but rather one of how to best convey our point to the reader. The words we choose and how they go together can affect the reader's perception of our company, the message, and us. People assess our expertise, education, and background based on these criteria. Thus it is important to know your audience enough to gauge the tenor of your writing.

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Topics: grammar, writing style, formal writing

Grammar Usage - Compound Verbs

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Jan 7, 2010 5:00:00 AM

Many people find rules for writing compound verbs confusing and arbitrary. They end up guessing and producing inconsistent and confusing text that tends to lose the attention of their readers. Credibility is lost, and therefore the power of the message is depleted. Read on and look for examples that can help your writing today.

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Topics: hyphenation, grammar, verbs

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