Pat Iyer’s Blog

Writing Skills

The Treacherous Homophone

The Treacherous Homophone

A homophone is a word that sounds the same as another word but has a different meaning. Note that some of the word pairs aren’t pure homophones, such as lose and loose. I include them because they’re close enough to get easily confused. Lose/loose “Lose” is a verb...

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Make the Comma Your Friend

Make the Comma Your Friend

A comma may be a little squiggle, but it does a lot for your writing. It adds meaning, clarity, elegance, and, in some cases, beauty to your writing. Its absence can bore or confuse the reader. Comma usage is loaded with rules, and it’s a good idea to study them....

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A “She” is not a “They”

A “She” is not a “They”

Maybe. Are you confusing singular and plural forms in the same sentence? And is this really wrong? Grammar rarely enters the world of culture and politics. Pronouns are a notable exception to this generality. Prior to the 1970s, the default pronoun was “he.” “If a...

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Sentence Fragments – Are They Always Wrong?

Sentence Fragments – Are They Always Wrong?

            Also known as incomplete sentences, fragments are generally frowned on in the English language. Exceptions exist, and I’ll get to them later. Defining sentence fragments First, let’s define a sentence fragment. It’s a sentence...

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Common Writing Errors: Don’t Make These Mistakes

Common Writing Errors: Don’t Make These Mistakes

In an age of texting and emoticons, it is easy to make writing mistakes. When communication can be as brief as “?,” grammar may seem like something that only old and uptight people find necessary. (Like me.) At some point this may become true, but we’re not there yet....

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Top 3 Grammatical Mistakes

Top 3 Grammatical Mistakes

Avoid these top 3 grammatical mistakes if you want to present yourself as a skilled writer. Use of the apostrophe Last week I was setting up books on a table for a book sale. One of the books I came across was called “Cave of the Bat’s”. I was horrified, not by the...

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Filler Phrases Freedom: How to Make Your Writing  Lean

Filler Phrases Freedom: How to Make Your Writing Lean

You've heard people use filler phrases when they talk: "Um", "Well", "Really", or "Like". Are you guilty of using filler phrases in your writing? I heard about a writer who set the goal of removing one unnecessary word from each paragraph of her book. At last count,...

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Can You Make Me Eager to Read Your Article?

Can You Make Me Eager to Read Your Article?

You can write the best story ever told, but without a good headline, I won't read your article. Experts estimate that 80 to 90 percent of people who read a headline won’t go on to read an article because the headline didn’t grab their attention. That doesn’t mean that...

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Make Your Writing Lean

Make Your Writing Lean

Bloated writing, like a bloated stomach after a big meal, can put you to sleep. Is your writing lean? Have you ever read a piece of writing that bored you without your knowing why? You started reading it because you had an interest in the subject, but you found...

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How to Use Lists in Your Writing

How to Use Lists in Your Writing

Why should you use a list? Lists improve the readability of your material. They make it easy to cluster information in a format that can be quickly scanned. Also, lists are useful for breaking up a long sentence into a more reader friendly format. Readers appreciate a...

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