Grammar Tip: Watch Out for the Trickster Phrase

Do not be misled by a phrase that comes between the subject and the verb. The verb agrees with the subject, not with a noun or pronoun in the phrase.

One of the boxes is open.

The people who listen to that music are few.

The team captain, as well as his players, is anxious.

The book, including all the chapters in the first section, is boring.

The woman with all the dogs walks down my street.


Grammar Tip: Who or Whom Made the Correct Choice?

Rule. Use this he/him method to decide whether who or whom is correct:

he = who
him = whom 

Who/Whom wrote the letter?
He wrote the letter. Therefore, who is correct.

Who/Whom should I vote for?
Should I vote for him? Therefore, whom is correct.


Grammar Tip: Do You Feel Good? Or, Do You Feel Well?

Good or Well?

Good is an adjective, so you do not do good or live good, but you do well and live well.

Remember, though, that an adjective follows sense-verbs and be-verbs, so you also feel goodlook goodsmell goodare goodhave been good, etc. So:”My mother looks good.” This does not mean that she has good eyesight; it means that she appears healthy.”I feel really good today.”

Again, this does not mean that I touch things successfully. It means rather that I am happy or healthy.

N.B. Many people confuse this distinction in conversation, and that’s okay. You will hear people say, “I feel well” when they mean that they feel good.

However, if you’re talking about action verbs, you would say “well.” “I did well on my exam.” “She plays tennis well.”


Grammar Tip: Do You Feel Bad or Badly?

Do I Feel Bad About Feeling Badly? 😕

  • Bad or Badly ?When you want to describe how you feel, you should use an adjective. You might say, “I feel bad.” Saying “I feel badly” would be like saying you play football badly. “I feel badly” would mean that you are unable to feel, as though your hands were numb. Here are some other examples:
    • “The dog smells badly.” Here, badly means that the dog does not do a good job of smelling.
    • “The dog smells bad.” Here, “bad” means that dog needs a bath.
    • N.B. Sometimes people say, “I feel badly,” when they feel that they have done something wrong. Let’s say you dropped your friend’s favorite dish, and it broke into a million pieces. You might say, “I feel really badly about what happened.”


Writer’s Wisdom ~ Word Choices

Don’t make lazy word choices: “You’ll never make your mark as a writer unless you develop a respect for words and a curiosity about their shades of meaning that is almost obsessive. The English language is rich in strong and supple words. Take the time to root around and find the ones you want.” ~ William Zinsser