Grammar Bomb: Earth VS earth

The earth was removed from around the tree; Earth is the third planet from the sun.



Earth [THINK: specific planet, like Saturn; no “the”]
earth [THINK: ground, soil, planet we live on; “the”usually required]


“In English, proper nouns (nouns which signify a particular person, place, or thing) are capitalized.

Following this rule, when Earth is discussed as a specific planet or celestial body, it is capitalized…When Earth is a proper noun, the is usually omitted.”

“When you are talking about the ground or soil as a surface or stratum, then you must lowercase the word…It is acceptable to leave earth lowercase and use the with earth if you are talking about it as the planet we live on: The earth rotates on its axis.

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Grammar Bomb: That VS Which

I like to read books that you like. I read the books you told me to, which you left on the table.



That [THINK: restrictive; limits meaning; no comma]
Which [THINK: nonrestrictive; supply extra info; comma required]


“In formal American English, that is used in restrictive clauses, and which in used in nonrestrictive clauses.”

“A restrictive clause contains information that limits the meaning of the thing being talked about….Note that in restrictive clauses, sometimes that can be omitted.”

A nonrestrictive clauseis used to supply additional information that is not essential to understanding the main point of the sentence…it adds extra information, almost like an aside. You could delete the details…and the sentence would still make sense.”

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Grammar Bomb: Advice VS Advise

Let me advise you—be careful what advice you accept. 



Advise [THINK: verb; counsel (S)]
Advice [THINK: noun; guide to action (C)]


Advise is a verb meaning “to give counsel to; offer an opinion or suggestion as worth following.””

“…Advice is a noun meaning “an opinion or recommendation offered as a guide to action, conduct, etc.””

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Grammar Bomb: Just Deserts VS Just Desserts

Whoever ate all the desserts on the table, will get their just deserts when the stomachache hits.



Just Deserts [THINK: not the sand; deserved]
Just Desserts [THINK: just sweet food (double letters)]


“The particular sense of desert that appears in just deserts ultimately derives from the Old French verb deservir meaning “to deserve,” and has been around in English since the late 1200s. defines desert as “reward or punishment that is deserved.” The idiom get/receive one’s just deserts means “to be punished or rewarded in a manner appropriate to one’s actions or behavior.

“…Dessert with the double s ultimately derives from the French desservir meaning “to clear the table.” defines dessert as “cake, pie, fruit, pudding, ice cream, etc., served as the final course of meal.” While it is certainly true that a meal of cake, and cake alone, could be called “just desserts,” this is not the spelling or meaning of the phrase that has been around in English since the late 1300s.”

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Grammar Bomb: I Couldn’t Care Less VS I Could Care Less

In the UK, they couldn’t care less if you studied Yiddish humor, but in America, we could care less.



I couldn’t care less [THINK: Original UK; idiom]
I could care less [THINK: Yiddish sarcasm; idiom]


“When you want to colloquially express that you don’t care at all about something you might say “I couldn’t care less.” This phrase first popped up in British English at the turn of the 20th century and is still popular today. In the 1960s, a controversial American variant of this phase entered popular usage: “I could care less.””

“…“I could care less” emerged as a sarcastic variant employing Yiddish humor...mirrors the intonation of the sarcastic Yiddish-English phrase “I should be so lucky!” where the verb is stressed.”

“…In English, along with other languages, idioms are not required to follow logic, and to point out the lack of logic in one idiom and not all idioms is…illogical. …not everyone you encounter will be a lexicographer, so be aware that [some]…will cringe if you use “I could care less” in conversation.”

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Grammar Bomb: Who VS Whom

When Moffat writes a new script and delivers it on Doctor Who—we know from whom it comes, but who has to memorize it first?



Who [THINK: Subject performs actions | Doctor Who]
Whom [THINK: Object acted on | movie (M)]


Who is a subjective-case pronoun, meaning it functions as a subject in a sentence…”

Who, like I, he, she, and they, performs actions, as in Who rescued the dog? (who is doing the rescuing in this sentence).”

“…whom is an objective-case pronoun, meaning it functions as an object in a sentence.”

Whom, like me, him, her, and them, is acted on, as in Whom did you see? (whom is being seen here, not doing the seeing). Whom more commonly appears when it follows a preposition, as in the salutation To Whom it may concern (Does it concern he? No. Does it concern him? Yes.) or in the title of Ernest Hemingway’s 1940 novel For Whom the Bell Tolls.”

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Grammar Bomb: A While VS Awhile

He laughed, and paused awhile; he saw her turn, and knew that even for a while, he held her attention. 



A While [THINK: noun phrase (two words)]
Awhile [THINK: adverb (one word)]


“The two-word expression a while is a noun phrase, consisting of the article a and the noun while, defined as “a period or interval of time.”

“…The noun phrase a while can and often does follow a preposition, such as for or in: “He said he would be home in a while.”

“The one-word awhile is an adverb that means “for a short time or period.””

“The adverb awhile cannot follow a preposition, a rule that makes sense if you revisit the definition of the term and drop it into a sentence…“He said he would be home in for a short time or period.””

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Grammar Bomb: Further VS Farther

Run farther up the road to the library; there, you can further your knowledge.



Further [THINK: figurative (U)]
Farther [THINK: physical distance (A)] 


“Do you use farther and further interchangeably? You’re not alone….”


“The widely accepted rule is to use farther to discuss physical distances, as in He went farther down the road.”


Further should be used for figurative distance or to discuss degree or extent….or advance, a project…. Further also has an adverbial sense of “moreover; additionally…”

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Grammar Bomb: Toward VS Towards

In America, you walk toward your goal; in Britain, you would walk towards it.



Toward [THINK: American (no S)]
Towards [THINK: British (S)] 


“According to the Chicago Manual of Style, the preferred form in American English is toward without the -s, while the preferred British English form is towards with the -s. This general rule works with other directional words, including forwardbackwardupward, and downward, along with afterward.

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