Tag Archive - grammar tips

Do Yourself a Favor and Learn about Reflexive Pronouns

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I sometimes see writers misuse reflexive pronouns—pronouns that have the suffix self (or selves) tagged on. For example, note these incorrect sentences:

  • My wife and myself thank you for the gift.
  • Deliver the cake to my partner or myself.
  • You should include ourselves in the vacation.

Take a moment to learn what reflexive and intensive personal pronouns are. A reflexive pronoun renames the subject as an object: “She gave herself a birthday present.” Continue Reading…

Don’t Be in Error of Circumlocution

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Here’s a simple way to tighten up your writing: look for phrases using be in your passages.

Verb phrases using be can often be simplified or better said with a simple verb. Here are some circumlocutory uses of be words that are common and create clunky writing, followed by the suggested replacement verb:

  • Be abusive of (abuse)
  • Be benefited by (benefit from)
  • Be desirous of (desire or want)
  • Be in agreement (agree)
  • Be in error (err)
  • Be in possession of (possess)
  • Be in receipt of (received)
  • Be supportive of (support)

It’s much simpler and smoother to say “We desire a change in the schedule, and if you would support us, you’ll receive a lot of praise” than “We would be desirous of a change in the schedule, and if you would be supportive of that, you’ll be in receipt of much praise.”

Now if we can be in agreement that the former sentence is better than the latter, we might be benefited by it.

I hope you didn’t like that last sentence either.

Avenge and Revenge

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When you want payback, are you after revenge or do you mean to avenge someone?

Avenge and vengeance have to do with justice, and often with a legal process—although an individual can take justice upon himself:

  • I want to see their deaths avenged.
  • He went to prison for avenging an attack on his wife.

The word avenge, though, may not have anything to do with justice but only with evening a score. Payback.

Revenge, in contrast, means to inflict suffering or harm on another out of personal resentment. Revenge is all about getting even. Payback, yes, but not specifically justice. A person can mete out revenge on someone who doesn’t deserve it. And keep in mind, avenge, doesn’t imply the infliction of harm.

Revenge can be either a noun or a verb, but avenge cannot be used as a noun.

If you want to avenge a wrong without going to jail, you may want to take legal action and not seek revenge.

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