You don’t see many semicolons around these days and you don’t see many colons either. Maybe they are thought of as rather old-fashioned, tending to break up a text unnecessarily. Most people seem to prefer to stick to commas and full stops, perhaps a little uncertain about when a colon or semicolon might be appropriate. I think that, used correctly, they can add a pace and a rhythm to a piece of writing which can make it livelier, clearer and easier to read. Semicolons (;) Three Main Uses 1. A semicolon can… Read More
This is quite a tricky pair and I always have to think carefully before I can plump for the right one. If you make a mistake, it’s not one that the grammar check will always pick up. Whose is the possessive form of who. It means ‘belonging to whom or which’. Whose usually sits before a noun. Examples The teacher kept the class behind until she found out whose mobile phone was ringing. Whose book is this? My son knows the girl whose handbag was stolen. Who’s is short for (a contraction… Read More
Both and each Difference between both and each: Both refers to two things considered together, while each refers to the individual members of a group considered separately, or one by one. The essence of both is togetherness, whereas the essence of each is separateness. Both refers to two only, whereas each can refer to more than two. Sometimes, it’s important to use each instead of both for clarity: I gave both girls £10. This could mean that you gave them £10 to share between them. I gave each girl £10. This makes… Read More
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there is a trend these days for people to say ‘I was sat’ instead of ‘I was sitting’ and ‘I was stood’ instead of ‘I was standing’. What they are doing is using the past participle when the present participle is needed. Some would say that this is a ‘non-standard grammatical form’, possibly originating in the north of England, while others would say it is wrong. Examples: ×I was sat there all on my own until the others came. ×I was stood at the bus… Read More
One letter makes all the difference: Affect and effect are frequently confused and I wish I had a dollar, or better still a pound, for every time I have seen them wrongly used. A good way to understand the difference is to remember that affect is normally a verb and effect is normally a noun.