Author Archives: Susan

Pronouns: the that/which problem (and understanding your MS Word grammar checker)

Relative pronouns We use relative pronouns – that, which, who and whom – to join sentences, which refer to the same noun, together. (In this post, I’ll look at the difference between that and which, and next week I’ll look at who and whom.) For example: We use relative pronouns to join sentences together. The

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Commonly confused words: wringer and ringer

In honour of International Women’s Day this coming Friday (8 March), I pay tribute to those who invented and developed washing machines, one of the great labour-saving inventions, freeing women from the hard work of boiling clothes in coppers, rinsing them and wringing them through a mangle. Washing machines have become so common that it

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Pronouns: he or she? The gender-neutral problem

Pronouns provide a quick, convenient way to refer to an earlier noun without repeating it (as it does in this sentence). But there is one problem: what pronoun can we use for a single person when we don’t know the person’s sex, given that pronouns indicate sex? For example, consider this sentence: The child paddles

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Commonly confused words: child-like and childish (and man-like, mannish, woman-like and womanish)

Child-like or childish? These two words look alike but they actually mean opposite things. Child-like means all the good things about children: child-like innocence, child-like wonder, child-like joy, child-like freedom.  You can remember it easily as all the things to like about childhood. But childish means all the things to dislike about children: childish tantrum,

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Verbs as Nouns: participles and gerunds—grammatical chameleons

Verbs as nouns Some words are like amphibious vehicles that can be both a boat and a truck: the same basic word form is equally at home behaving in very different ways One of the confusing aspects of English is that the same word can act as different parts of speech, or change the function

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