GrammarPhile Blog

Trim Prepositional Phrases for Leaner Writing

Posted by Terri Porter   May 11, 2016 7:30:00 AM

A reader recently wrote to our Ask the Grammar Experts service about how to reduce the use of multiple prepositional phrases in writing. We offer five tips below for doing just that. But first, let’s look at why multiple prepositional phrases can be problematic. Consider this sentence:

None of the reports about the company’s current performance compared with last year’s provided members of the board with an understanding of the reasons for the drastic decline in profits.

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Topics: prepositions, prepositional phrases

As You Like It ... or Not

Posted by Terri Porter   Jun 11, 2015 4:30:00 AM

This week we wrap up our three-part miniseries on pronouns by taking on one of the most hotly debated grammar questions — the use of like versus as — and how your choices will dictate which pronouns you use.

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Topics: conjunctions, pronouns, prepositions, like

Pronouns with Comparatives: More than Meets the I

Posted by Terri Porter   Jun 4, 2015 4:30:00 AM

Mark Twain may not have been talking about pronouns when he said “Comparison is the death of joy,” but the sentiment somehow fits. Just ask anyone who struggles with figuring out which pronouns to use with comparatives such as than, as and like.

How can three little words wreak so much havoc with pronouns? The short answer is that all three words can perform multiple functions in a sentence, and when the function isn’t clear, the resulting usage is mixed.

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Topics: conjunctions, pronouns, prepositions, pronouns with than, comparatives

The Return from Neverland

Posted by Terri Porter   May 7, 2015 5:00:00 AM

 

Never start a sentence with a conjunction. Never end a sentence with a preposition. How many times have you heard these and similar refrains?

Some find a certain comfort in such absolutes because correcting the problem is generally easy — they see one of these errors, and they fix it. But rigidity can be stifling, especially when the reasoning behind it is “because that’s the way we’ve always done it.”

Does that mean writers can just make up their own rules as they go along? Of course not. But questioning the basis for rules serves two purposes: (1) It increases understanding of the rules and their application, and (2) it allows for evolution of the language.

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Topics: conjunctions, prepositions, rules for writing

Prepositional Idioms and Why They're Important

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Nov 1, 2011 5:30:00 AM

Idiom is language peculiar to a people or to a district, community, or class. It's also an expression in the usage of a language that is peculiar to itself either grammatically (as no, it wasn't me) or in having a meaning that cannot be derived from the conjoined meanings of its elements (as Monday week for "the Monday a week after next Monday").

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Topics: preposition, prepositions, idioms

Myth: Never End a Sentence with a Preposition

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Oct 4, 2011 5:30:00 AM

The notion that ending a sentence with a preposition is grammatical heresy was originally advanced more than three centuries ago by the venerated English poet and essayist John Dryden. Dryden, a Latin scholar, based his view on the fact that prepositions are never found at the end of sentences written in Latin. And given Dryden's reputation, it is no surprise that his sentiments forged their way into the grammar texts of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and eventually into the grammar classrooms of the twentieth century.

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Topics: preposition, prepositions, preposition at end of sentence

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