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One of the most common grammar and usage questions I receive from students is this: How do I know whether to use "less" or "fewer"? It's an important question; using these words properly can mean the difference between sounding intelligent or seeming uneducated.  No one wants to ruin a good impression with a potential employer, date, or admissions interviewer by making the wrong choice in a matter that is actually quite simple.     Here is a good test to help decide which word is more appropriate:  Will the word be describing a countable noun--or will it be describing a noun that represents a group, collective, or abstract concept? If the noun is countable, then use "fewer". By way of example, it is appropriate to say, "Since I took a cut in pay, there are fewer dollars coming home each week." Another example is to say, "It is amazing that, as I grow older, it seems there are fewer hours in a day."... read more

Statisticians say that the average person writes about 55,000 words per year. That's enough to fill a novel. This statistic measures everything from thank you notes to work emails. However, I'm sure the average college student far exceeds this number. Therefore, it's no wonder that most students I work with are seeking help with their writing. Needless to say, with such a word filled future on these students' horizon, I take this responsibility seriously.  Most students think they need to start with grammar in order to improve their writing. They are baffled by the pesky rules that spell check doesn't catch but that their teachers always find. They think that the key to their writing is unlocking the comma, semicolon, and split infinitive. However, I'd argue that unless you have the time and patience, and the student has the dedication, to teach him or her Latin (where many of these rules have been super imposed from), it will be hard for them to master grammar... read more

Hello everyone! Hola a todos!   Learning a second language like  Spanish or ESOL can be boring and frustrating sometimes. You just get sick of reading your textbook or completing worksheets that your teacher gives you. But believe it or not...there are several ways to make learning a second language fun no matter what age you are! You're probably thinking right now..."how?" I'll tell you how. First, think of something that you like to do in your free time like listening to music, watching a movie or reading. Say if you really enjoy listening to music...look up one of your favorite genres and see what pops up for Spanish or English music in that genre. For example, Spanish pop/rock - the Colombian artist Juanes will pop up. Check out some of his songs on youtube. Once you find a song that you like, look up the Spanish lyrics online, print them out and then try your best at translating them into English. See if you can figure out what the song means... read more

Computerized spell-check can be a handy time-saver when writing papers, and many students swear by it. However amazing it may be, though, spell-check is still just a computer program, and as such should not be considered a substitute for proofreading with human eyes. As evidence, here are three common mistakes that spell-check won't catch. Proper Nouns Spell-check uses a dictionary to compare the words you type to existing words. Proper nouns, like names of people or places, usually won't be in the computer's dictionary, and so the spell-check will flag them as misspelled. This means that when you proofread, you'll have to ignore the wavy underline under those names. But this can also backfire – what if you happened to misspell that name? The computer will underline it same as before, but your brain is already prepared to ignore underlining on that name so you run the risk of not catching it yourself. This is one reason I advocate actually printing out a hard... read more

One of the things I love most about the Latin language is how its writers can massage it to add information and imagery without having to add more words.  I call this, personally, writing in two dimensions.  Here's an example:   At one point in the Aeneid, Aeneas and Dido are having a lovers' tryst in a hidden cave, which was dedicated to a god.  Because Latin is a highly inflected language, word order carries little grammatical information (unlike English), but can add quite a bit of what I call "two-dimensional" information.  So, in English the line might be written:   Aeneas and Dido were in the holy cave.   But Vergilius writes instead (only in Latin):   In the holy Aeneas and Dido were cave.   Thus, even in terms of word order, Aeneas and Dido are INSIDE the cave!  I find things like this absolutely thrilling.  But it's not my favorite half-line in Latin poetry.   That... read more

After spending hours learning about vocabulary, verb tenses, adverbs and adjectives you're probably wondering when you will ever have use for it in the real world. I was always pretty good at grammar and spelling and have found those skills to be invaluable. Something as simple as writing an email requires proper grammar. Have you ever cringed at something written on the internet where someone incorrectly used there, they're or their? Having good writing skills and being knowledgeable about grammatical syntax will set you apart in job applications, reports for your bosses and supervisors, articles about how to perform the latest skateboard tricks, and even speeches and presentations. Incorrect spelling can be very costly for a business. I once went into a bank where they were running a special promotion. I pointed out that they had incorrect spelling on their posters. Posters are not cheap to produce and therefore it probably cost that bank tens of thousands of dollars to... read more

Many people, myself included, feel that for all its advantages, the internet has precipitated a steady decline in the quality of writing. Anyone can write anything anywhere, and while that gives a voice to many who otherwise might not have a public forum to share what they have to say, it also makes it difficult and sometimes impossible to uphold any sort of standards.   That said, the internet also offers plenty of resources for improving your writing. Here are a few of my favorites:   Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com Here you'll also find a thesaurus and several other reference tools. It may not be the Oxford English Dictionary, but it gives you plenty of good definitions and sometimes includes usage notes with practical implications for your writing, like differences in how similar words are typically used.   Difference Between http://www.differencebetween.com Speaking of differences, this is a really cool site.... read more

Have you ever had your writing edited and a sentence marked “fragment”? What does that mean? How do I fix it?   To start, a sentence is made up of a subject and a predicate (sometimes called a verb phrase). Subject: the agent in the sentence. This is the word or phrase that is doing the action. Predicate: the verb phrase in the sentence. Sometimes this is just one word and sometimes it is a long phrase because it has a direct or indirect object, prepositional phrase, or other pieces of information. For example, take the sentence “Billy rides his bike.” “Billy” is the subject because he is doing the action. The phrase “rides his bike” is the predicate because it contains the verb and the direct object.   When you have a fragment there are 3 possibilities for why it is wrong:   The sentence is missing a subject. This type of fragment has a verb but does not state the subject. Often times students might... read more

Many people, myself included, feel that for all its advantages, the internet has precipitated a steady decline in the quality of writing. Anyone can write anything anywhere, and while that gives a voice to many who otherwise might not have a public forum to share what they have to say, it also makes it difficult and sometimes impossible to uphold any sort of standards.   That said, the internet also offers plenty of resources for improving your writing. Here are a few of my favorites:   Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com Here you'll also find a thesaurus and several other reference tools. It may not be the Oxford English Dictionary, but it gives you plenty of good definitions and sometimes includes usage notes with practical implications for your writing, like differences in how similar words are typically used.   Difference Between http://www.differencebetween.com Speaking of differences, this is a really cool... read more

Every beginning student of Japanese, myself included, has had trouble in one way or another with particles.  JOSHI, as they are called in Japanese, are "helping words" which we use to identify parts of speech, join clauses, indicate direction, mode and exclusivity.  Basically, they're the sweet little things that make Japanese cohesive rather than a jumble of words.  These JOSHI are written as hiragana, but some may have pronunciation changes.   The hiragana HA, pronounced WA, has multiple functions.  First and foremost is it's function as a TOPIC MARKER, the "what I'd like to talk about."  After the topic has been established, it can be omitted from future information until the topic changes.   Rooney-san WA Fruansugo to Eigo wo hanashimasu.  Sei ga hikakute, atama ga ii desu..  Senmon WA hikakubungaku desu. -- Ms. Rooney speaks French and English.  She is short and smart.  (Changing the... read more

I frequently see students confuse these two words in their writing.  Many people do not even know that there are two separate spellings.    "To compliment" is to offer someone praise.  As in: "Karen's boyfriend complimented her new haircut."   "To complement" is to make something more complete or perfect.  As in: "Karen thinks her boyfriend really complements her life."  This word is also used in geometry to refer to two angles whose degrees add up to 90 (i.e. form a right angle). 

One of my personal pet peeves in both written and spoken English is the confusion of the words "less" and "fewer."  These words are not interchangeable.  While they have the same essential meaning, one must use them in different contexts.   "Less" applies to quantities that cannot be counted.  Less sugar, less air, less dirt, less dust, less light, less water.  "Fewer" applies to quantities that can be counted.  Fewer people, fewer aardvarks, fewer tissues, fewer cups.   At the same time, remember: Fewer granules of sugar, fewer molecules of air, fewer dust bunnies, fewer drops of water. 

One of the most common grammatical errors I see in the writing of students of all levels is the lack of agreement of adjectives and verbs when "each" is the subject of the sentence.   For example: "Each of the cats are calico."   This sentence is incorrect because the subject is "each," not "the cats."   Therefore, the correct form of the sentence is: "Each of the cats is calico."   If you get confused, remove the words that modify "each" and read the sentence.  In this case, the sentence would read:    "Each is calico."

Your writing should be internally consistent in the way in which it refers to people.    For example: "One should never leave your door unlocked when you're not at home."   This sentence is awkward to read because the pronouns are inconsistent: the author uses "one" and "you" to refer to the same abstract person.    This sentence can be revised to read one of two ways:   "One should never leave one's door unlocked when one is not at home." "You should never leave your door unlocked when you're not at home."   The sentences have slightly different meanings.  The first is abstract, while the second seems to be giving specific instructions to a person that the speaker is directly addressing.  Both are correct because both sentences consistently use the same pronouns.     

For practice over the winter holidays, try the following resources: Vocabulary practice Quizlet Create your own vocabulary lists with pictures. Writing You Can't Write English Under Pressure A stressful game to check your knowledge of spelling and word order. Listening Voice of America, "Stories about People" Hundreds of MP3 files and transcripts about famous people.   Speaking / pronunciation American English Pronunciation Practice Audio files for practicing pronunciation, especially difficult word pairs.   Grammar English Video Video English lessons on assorted grammar and vocabulary topics, including English slang. For example, try this video on the English meanings of "John."   For Spanish-speakers Spanishdict.com, Aprender inglés gratis Different levels, different English topics offered in Spanish.

Here are some of my favorite English (high school) resources. Check back again soon, this list is always growing! I also recommend school textbooks, your local library, and used bookstores.     (K-12) Readwritethink.org – Click on “Parent and After School Resources,” for a great list, sorted by grade level, to help your child practice a variety of different skill sets at home (ex: giving an interview, thinking critically, writing activities, etc) (Gr 6-12) Englishpage.com – Very thorough grammar lessons (Gr 6-12) TheOatmeal.com/tag/grammar – Short, humorous grammar lessons (Gr 6 -12) Grammarbook.com – Free video lessons on common grammar topics. *Note- some areas of this site are subscription-based. (Gr. 6-12) Grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar – Quick lessons on parts of speech, and tips on writing essays. (Gr 9-12) Owl.English.purdue.edu/owl – Grammar lessons, tutorials on writing essays and using specific formats... read more

Hi,   I would be honored in having the opportunity of working with students and parents. The education and success of students are very important to me and I would love to do what I can to help. I am a math and education major with an Associate's of Arts and Teaching Degree from Lee College and I am seeking a teaching career. I live in the Baytown area and I am not able to provide my own transportation due to the fact that I have a disability which prevents me from driving, so I can only rely on public transportation and I am limited to how far I can travel. Therefor, communication is much needed. I am available until 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Anyone needing a private tutor, please contact me. I would be happy to help you at any time.

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