Grammar rules you probably forgot

Grammar rules you probably forgot

By Rachel Peck

Full disclosure, the word “grammar” is one I often misspell the most (it’s an “a” not an “e”) and I only mastered “definitely” within the past year. In fact, I had to think about spelling it out just now – then relied on spellcheck to make sure I had it right. So, I get it. We all have those words we can never seem to make stick, but while we often focus on correct spelling, basic sentence structure and proper punctuation, there are a few grammar basics that have been tossed aside. Well, in celebration of National Grammar Day, we’re dusting off the textbooks with these grammar rules you probably forgot:

Collective nouns: its versus their
This is one grammar rule I see broken often, as there are some specific differences between BrE and AmE. When referring to a collective noun, such as a specific group or company, it’s often treated as a singular, thereby needing a singular verb and pronoun.

Example #1: Pinterest has rolled out its new stories feature
Example #2: The board of directors has decided to change its bylaws

Which way to that place?
Before you search Grammarly for this one, let me make it easy for you. The use of “which” versus “that” is fairly simple, if hard to internalize. “Which” is a non-defining clause, meaning it’s nonessential and a sentence can still function without it. On the other hand, “that” is a defining clause, meaning without it a sentence makes no sense.

Example #1: I put my bike in that garage.
Example #2: I put my bike in that garage, which is over there.

To who(m) does this blog belong to?
Another seemingly simple rule of grammar thumb that seems to be a struggle for many writers is the usage of “who” versus “whom.” Basically, if you can replace “who” with “he” or “she”, use who. If you can replace it with “him” or “her,” use whom. “Who” is the subject, where “whom” is the verb or the preposition.

Example #1: Who is going to distribute this press release?
Example #2: To whom are we going to distribute this press release?

I’m going to go too
Frankly, this one always gets me. “To” is a preposition with various meanings, where “too” can also mean “excessively” or “also.” Simple, right? Wrong. This grammar rule drives most writers crazy, myself included. To keep myself in line when using “too”, I replace it with another word (like “also”) and see if the sentence still works. If it does, I used it correctly. If not, I replace it with “to.”

Example #1: I’m going to go to a social media conference with my team.
Example #2: My team is going to a social media conference too.

In closing, if I’ve made any glaring grammatical errors in this blog, please don’t hold it against me. Despite popular opinion, self-titled “grammar police” do occasionally make mistakes…

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