Collective Nouns

Collective Nouns

Collective nouns are words that refer to—you guessed it—a collection of individuals (people or animals) or things taken as a whole. Though these words appear singular, they represent a group; examples include team, jury, faculty, class, choir, family, and committee....
Names: Making Them Plural and NOT Possessive

Names: Making Them Plural and NOT Possessive

As the holiday season approaches each year and people gear up to send holiday greeting cards, we need a reminder about how to make last names plural. (Hint: Doing so does NOT involve an apostrophe.) If we stop to think about it, most of us will remember that...
Nominalization (Vague, Wordy Sentences)

Nominalization (Vague, Wordy Sentences)

When it comes to writing, less is often better. Writers can avail themselves of several strategies for more succinct writing, and avoiding nominalization—forming a noun from other parts of speech—is one of them.  Nouns can be made from both verbs and adjectives, but...
Myth Rules: Eight So-Called Rules to Ignore

Myth Rules: Eight So-Called Rules to Ignore

My first exposure to the phrase “myth rules” was the use of that expression in Edgar H. Schuster’s 2003 book (which I highly recommend), Breaking the Rules: Liberating Writers through Innovative Grammar Instruction. But long before I discovered Schuster’s list of...
Possessive Case before a Gerund

Possessive Case before a Gerund

Before we can use the possessive case before a gerund, we first have to recognize whether we are dealing with a gerund (which functions like a noun) or a participle (which functions as an adjective). And therein lies the rub. Participles and gerunds look and sound the...
Passive Voice and Active Voice

Passive Voice and Active Voice

Those of us whose word-processing software includes a grammar checker have probably encountered the green squiggly line of doom wagging an accusatory finger at a passive verb. But what is the passive voice, and why is it considered undesirable? (If you learn better by...