A wringer is an old-fashioned mechanism which presses water out of clothes being washed by hand, a process indicative of giving someone a hard time. This one is subject to debate , but here's my two cents. Take the sentence, "A person who smokes damages their lungs. You should. But "their" is a word you would use if you were referring to more than one person.
Correct sentences could either read:. In the first bullet, "people" is more than one person and now agrees with "their. It's easy to see why this one looks correct, considering that "reign" is something that kings, queens, and other sovereigns do. Yet the correct idiom refers to the reins which control a horse. When you give a horse "free rein" you let it go where it wants to go. To "nip" means to pinch or to bite. Therefore, the correct version is "nip it in the bud," which refers to snipping off a flower bud before it can bloom.
The idea is to put an end to something before it gets worse.
You don't really want someone to tie you on top of something, do you? The phrase "tide me over" is talking about sustaining someone through a difficult time and refers to the ocean's tide, which is capable of moving boats to a new location when the wind will not. To "toe the line" means to follow the rules. It comes from runners who put their toe to the line before running a race.
The word "chock" is an Old English word which means "cheek" as well as "full to the brim. Just know that a throe is a sharp attack of emotion. So, to be in the "throes of passion" is to be violently consumed by something. Mute means silent, so would you really want to make a point that doesn't say anything? A point that is "moot" is debatable or doubtful. So, a point can be moot, but not mute. Some people throw this word around as an embellishment to intensify whatever they're trying to say.
But "literally" means "actually" or "in a strict sense. The strong coffee drink brewed into a tiny cup is pronounced with an "s" in the first syllable and written "espresso. Jive can be defined as a colorful form of speaking, or as referring to certain kinds of jazz or swing music. Since "jibe" means "to agree," the correct phrase would be "jibe with the facts. If you're trying to say that something is or isn't your talent, the technically correct way to pronounce "forte" is "fort.
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So, if you use the correct version you'll sound intelligent to the grammarians of the world but you risk alienating a certain percentage of people who will not understand your meaning. My approach: Avoid "forte" altogether and say, "It's not my strength. Pronounce "etcetera" exactly how it is spelled. Lots of people bristle when a speaker drops the "t. The incorrect spelling above seems like it could be right since something that is planted deeply in the ground would be firmly established. The correct expression, though, is "deep-seated.
When you "extract" something, you remove it. As such, the latter spelling is more appropriate.
The correct version--"chalk it up"-- comes from keeping score on a chalkboard. A "peak" is the top of a mountain.
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The correct word is "peek," which means a quick look. The opinions expressed here by Inc. Sponsored Business Content. We do not normally use a comma before and at the end of a list of single words:.
follow site American English does use a comma in lists before and :. We use commas to separate words or phrases that mark where the voice would pause slightly:. However, all will be revealed tomorrow at midday. James, our guide, will accompany you on the boat across to the island. However, we sometimes use commas if the clauses have different subjects:. They were very friendly and invited us to their villa in Portugal. Footballers these days earn more money but they are fitter and play many more matches.
It was an expensive hotel in the centre of Stockholm, but we decided it was worth the money. When a subordinate clause comes before the main clause, we commonly use a comma to separate the clauses. However, we do not always do this in short sentences:. When we use subordinate or non-finite comment clauses to give further details or more information, we commonly use commas to separate the clauses:. We use commas to mark non-defining clauses. Such clauses normally add extra, non-essential information about the noun or noun phrase:.
The ambulance, which arrived after just five minutes, took three people to the hospital immediately. The storm, lasting as it did for several days, caused serious damage to villages near the coast. Barcelona was the Spanish city that was selected for the Olympic Games.
We also usually separate vocatives, discourse markers and interjections with commas:. Open the door for them, Kayleigh , can you. Well , what do you think we should do about it? Wow , that sounds really exciting. When the direct speech is first, we use a comma before the closing of the quotation marks:. Reported speech. There are three main reasons for the success of the government: economic, social and political. We commonly use a colon between sentences when the second sentence explains or justifies the first sentence:.
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Try to keep your flat clean and tidy : it will sell more easily. We use semi-colons instead of full stops to separate two main clauses. In such cases, the clauses are related in meaning but are separated grammatically:. Spanish is spoken throughout South America; in Brazil the main language is Portuguese. Semi-colons are not commonly used in contemporary English. Full stops and commas are more common.
In direct speech, we enclose what is said within a pair of single or double quotation marks, although single quotation marks are becoming more common. Direct speech begins with a capital letter and can be preceded by a comma or a colon:. We can put the reporting clause in three different positions. Note the position of commas and full stops here:. When we use direct speech inside direct speech, we use either single quotation marks inside double quotation marks, or double quotation marks inside single quotation marks:.
We commonly use question marks inside the quotation marks unless the question is part of the reporting clause:. We also use single quotation marks to draw attention to a word. We can use quotation marks in this way when we want to question the exact meaning of the word:. We sometimes use quotation marks to refer to the titles of books, newspapers, magazines, films, songs, poems, videos, CDs, etc:. Articles or chapters within books, or titles of short stories, are normally punctuated by single quotation marks:.
Dashes are more common in informal writing. They can be used in similar ways to commas or semi-colons. Both single and multiple dashes may be used:. No one could believe it! Just wanted to thank you for a lovely evening — we really enjoyed it.
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Brackets have a similar function to dashes. They often add extra, non-essential information:. Heaton gives a convincing explanation of how hurricanes are formed pages 27— You can find the figures you need on www. We use full stops in dates. Forward slashes or dashes are also commonly used:. Date of birth: 1. In American English the day and the month are in a different order so that 8 January is written as follows:. When we speak email and web addresses, we say each word separately. To avoid confusion, we sometimes spell out each letter of a word:.
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