Thursday, 30 April 2015

Zenith: ending with Z

I have reached the Zenith of my A-Z of my journey on Grammar and punctuation. It was a journey which I had begun with doubts but it has helped me learn tremendously. I am sure some of you might have found a few of my posts useful as well. Thank you for being with me on this journey.

So moving  to my last post on grammar and punctuation:

Are you confused about how to show the plural and the possessive of certain names that end with Z?

Like that of Lily Fernandez?

·         To show the plural of a name that ends with z sound, add es.
Example: The Fernandezes are on their way here.

·         To show singular possession of a name ending in  z, add ‘s on the end of the name.
Example: That is Mrs. Fernandez’s car.

·         To show plural possession of a name ending in z, form the plural first; then immediately use the apostrophe

Example:  Those are the cars of the Fernandezes’s.

This post is a part of the APRIL A-Z Challenge 

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

You words

You-the pronoun of the second person singular or plural, used of the person or persons being addressed, in the nominative or objective case.
·         You are my inspiration.
·         Are you coming with us?
·         Do you think that I can win this competition?
·         Are you sure that he was behind this?
·         We lost the game when you dropped that catch.

Your - a form of the possessive case of ‘you’ used as an attributive adjective.
·         Your dress is so beautiful.
·         Will you finish your story this week?
·         Do you have friends in your school?
·         I know your number.
·         Is your name on the list?

You’re – is a contraction for ‘you are’.
·         You’re going to have fun at the party.
·         You’re always fun to be with.
·         You’re my best friend.
·         You’re so inspirational.
·         You’re my idol.

Yours - a form of the possessive case of you used as a predicate adjective.
·         Is this pen yours or his?
·         Which dress is yours?
·         Yours was the first mail I received.
·         Yours faithful friend.
·         He was yours from the beginning.

Your’s – Many use this form of the ‘you’ word but it is incorrect. Though we use apostrophe to indicate possession, yours is an exception.

  This post is a part of the APRIL A-Z Challenge 

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

X-Bar theory

X-bar theory is a component of linguistic theory which attempts to identify syntactic features common to all those human languages that fit in a presupposed (1965) framework. It claims that among their phrasal categories, all those languages share certain structural similarities, including one known as the "X-bar", which does not appear in traditional phrase structure rules for English or other natural languages. X-bar theory was first proposed by Noam Chomsky (1970) and further developed by Ray Jackendoff (1977). An X-bar theoretic understanding of sentence structure is possible in a constituency-based grammar only; it is not possible in a dependency-based grammar.

The letter X is used to signify an arbitrary lexical category (part of speech); when analyzing a specific utterance, specific categories are assigned. Thus, the X may become an N for noun, a V for verb, an A for adjective, or a P for preposition.

The term X-bar is derived from the notation representing this structure. Certain structures are represented by X (an X with a bar over it). Because this is difficult to typeset, this is often written as X′, using the prime symbol. In English, however, this is still read as "X bar". The notation XP stands for X Phrase, and is equivalent to X-bar-bar (X with a double overbar), written X″, usually read aloud as X double bar.

Read more about this on Wikipedia page on X-bar theory.

Watch this video which explains about the linguistic nuances in a detailed yet easy to understand manner.

 This post is a part of the APRIL A-Z Challenge 

Monday, 27 April 2015

Who/ Whom usage

Who/ Whom usage often confuses writers.

So here is an easy method.

Use he/him method to decide whether who or whom is correct. Check what (he or him) comes as the answer to the question.

If he comes as answer, then use who.
If him comes as answer then use whom.


·         Who/Whom doodled here?
He doodled here. Therefore, we should use ‘who’.
Correct usage: Who doodled here?

·         Who/Whom should I invite?
I should invite him. Therefore, we should use ‘whom’.
Correct usage: Whom should I invite?

·         We all know who/whom killed that dog.
This sentence contains two clauses: we all know and who/whom killed that dog. Who/ whom confusion comes in the second clause, so we need to answer that particular clause. He killed that dog. Therefore, we should use who.
Correct usage: We all know who killed that dog.

·         We understood who/whom the movie was about.
This sentence contains two clauses: we understood and who/whom the movie was about. Now we consider second clause because it contains who/whom. The movie was about him. Therefore, we should use whom.

The traditional rules are:

·         Use who as the subject of the verb.
Example: I know a person who lives in Park Street.

·         Use whom as the object of the verb.
Example: The actor whom we adore.

·         Use whom after prepositions.
To whom have you spoken?

Nowadays ‘who’ is replacing ‘whom’ in speech and less formal writing. Many avoid using whom altogether.

  This post is a part of the APRIL A-Z Challenge 

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Verbal Noun

The present participle form of the verb used as a noun is called as a Verbal Noun. It is also called a ‘gerund’.

·         Smoking is not permitted here.

In this sentence though smoking is a verb, it acts like a noun.

·         I don’t like eating a lot at night.

Although the verbal noun is used as a noun, it also behaves like a verb. Let us analyse the second sentence.


don’t like
a lot
late at night


Because a verbal noun is partly a noun and partly a verb, it can raise questions when preceded by a noun or pronoun. For example, which of the following sentences is correct?

1.       She hates my doing that.
2.       She hates me doing that.

Traditionalists say that (1) is correct and (2) is wrong. In fact 90 percent of the time people follow the pattern of (2), and use of a possessive before a verbal noun as in (1) is largely confined to fiction and very formal writing.

This post is courtesy of Oxford A-Z of grammar and punctuation by John Seely.

 This post is a part of the APRIL A-Z Challenge

Friday, 24 April 2015


The word Unique is a classifying adjective. Classifying adjectives put things into groups or classes. They cannot normally be modified by having adverbs such as ‘very’ placed in front of them. Unique means ‘of which there is only one’. So it is, strictly speaking wrong to say,

·          He was a very unique person. (Wrong)

·         Our area is almost the most unique residential site along the South Coast. (Wrong)

There are a few other modifiers which can be used with unique. The most obvious is almost.


·         Britain is almost unique in continuing to charge almost all its domestic customers of water on an unmeasured basis.

This can be justified because it means that Britain is not the only country to do this; there are a few others.

There is, however, a looser meaning frequently given (especially in informal speech and writing) to unique: ‘Outstanding or remarkable’. When it is used in this sense, it is often preceded by very:

·         A very unique ‘Town’ house situated a stone’s throw away from the River Thames and Oxford City Centre.

This post is courtesy of Oxford A-Z of Grammar and punctuation by John Seely.

 This post is a part of the APRIL A-Z Challenge 

Thursday, 23 April 2015


“That" is a useful word for giving more clarity to writing, but the presence of too many of these words , is not desirable in any creative piece of writing.
How to reduce using them?

·         When "that" is used to describe something, we can always move the description to before the term and make a more powerful image.


Instead of: Kerala was nothing but hills that flowed green.
Use: Kerala was nothing but flowing green hills.
·         In reported speech. We can omit it without affecting the meaning or grammar.


Instead of: He said that he was tired.
Use: He said he was tired.

When is it compulsory to use the word that?

Time element: When a time element is linked to the verb of attribution, the conjunction “that” must be used. For example:

·         The publisher announced that on May 5 the book will be released. 
Here if we omit the word “that” the meaning would not be clear.

So we have to clearly understand whether the presence of the word is absolutely necessary in a given sentence and if not we can omit using it.

 This post is a part of the APRIL A-Z Challenge 

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Split Infinitive

The infinitive is the form of the verb made by adding ‘to’ to its STEM:
Example: to go.

Some traditionalists say that you should never place anything between the ‘to’ and the stem. They argue that since the infinitive is a part of the verb, it should never be split. So it is wrong to say ‘to boldly go’. You should instead say to go boldly or boldly to go.

There is no grammatical justification to this so called rule and people have been splitting infinitives for centuries. Indeed sometimes it is impossible to convey your meaning unless you do split an infinitive. For example:

Everyone else thought they were too young to really cope with adult responsibilities.

If you move really to another position you change the meaning of the sentence.

Everyone else thought they were too young really to cope with adult responsibilities.
Everyone else thought they were too young to cope really with adult responsibilities.

This post is courtesy ‘Oxford A-Z of grammar and punctuation by John Seely.

 This post is a part of the APRIL A-Z Challenge  

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Relative Clauses

We use relative clauses to join two sentences, or to give more information about something.
Types of relative clauses:
The relative clauses can be roughly classified into two.

1.      Defining relative clause:
A defining relative clause tells which noun we are talking about:
·         I like the boy who paints.
(If I don't say ‘who paints '; then it is not clear know which boy I mean).

2.      Non-defining relative clause:
A non-defining relative clause gives us extra information about something. We don't need this information to understand the sentence.
·         I live in Bangalore, which has some amazing art galleries.
(Here the clause 'which has amazing art galleries' gives extra information about Bangalore, the place I am talking about).

Relative Pronouns:

who - subject or object pronoun for people

·         They hanged the lady who killed her husband.

which - subject or object pronoun

·         I read the book which is inside the drawer.
·         I visited the village which you told me about.

whom - used for object pronoun for people, especially in non-restrictive relative clauses (in restrictive relative clauses use who)

·         The boy whom you told me about won the race.

that - subject or object pronoun for people, animals and things in restrictive relative clauses (who or which are also possible)

·         I like the painting that is covered with glitter.

Relative adverbs

where - referring to a place

·         The cafe where I usually have lunch is cozy.

when - referring to a time

·         There are times when I feel so empty.

why - referring to a reason

·         This is why I refused to accompany her.

 This post is a part of the APRIL A-Z Challenge 

Monday, 20 April 2015


There are seven types of questions in English.

1.      Yes-No Questions
·         Are you coming?

2.      Wh-Questions
·         Why are you doing this?
·         Which of this is correct?
·         Who knows answers to this question?
·         What is your name?
·         Where are the kids?

3.     Tag questions
·         He loves her, doesn’t he?
·         You are going to the movie, aren’t you?
·         Nobody saw the queen, did they?

4.     Choice Questions

·         Would you like coffee or tea?
·         Are you sad or happy?

5.     Hypothetical Questions


·         If you had the power to be invisible, what would you do?
·         What would you do if you could fly like a butterfly?

6.     Embedded questions
·         She asked me if I could drop her at home.

7.     Leading questions
We ask leading questions when we desire to get a particular answer. Used for investigations and research.

·         Were you near her when she boarded the train?

Saturday, 18 April 2015

New Beginnings

At the Dubai shopping festival

To start anew is always an interesting turn in anyone’s life. I too have faced it many times. Be it the change from bachelorhood to married life or shifting from the comfort zone of the home where I had spent most of my life.

Marriage usually changes things and makes us want to soar high seeking to fulfill not only one’s own dreams but also that of our partner. My greatest ambition was to work abroad and it came true a few months after marriage when I got a chance to visit UAE for searching a job. It was a sudden change for us both.

I had to leave her behind as I had to first find a job and then settle down. I wanted to give her the comfort of being in a settled house. Not building one from scratch. I adjusted to the new country and found a job soon. The application for family status also got approved and I brought her to Dubai. We shifted into a friend’s flat which was vacant then for two months.

By the end of two months, we had searched out a new accommodation and it was fun building a new home together. We searched for used yet comfortable and affordable furniture. We went to the supermarkets to buy utensils and also the things that we would need in our new home.

It was scary at times as I was the only earning member and it was a place which was away from home. If an emergency came, we would not have had any help in that strange country where both of us had very few friends.

But within a few months, my wife also got a job and we became financially stable. We were even able to spend on luxuries which were till then out of reach. Weekend parties at food courts, office parties, impromptu trips, life had suddenly changed rosy.

From then on, every change didn’t scare me like it used to do. It was as if by being independent and having built my new world from scratch, I had acquired a new skill. I could look up and face any challenge life was about to offer.

The horizon which sometimes was clouded with dark clouds did not scare me anymore. It is easy to survive even in the bleakest of circumstances if you are ready to give up on your fears and is ready to accept the changes that come with time.

Time often is the best teacher and hence it is good if we learn to take chances. The choices that we make are often what change our destiny. The more courage we show during times of a new change, the more we are able to achieve in life.

Always start a new life with optimism.

This post is a part of


A paragraph is a self-contained unit of a discourse in writing dealing with a particular point or idea. A paragraph consists of one or more sentences.

Texts of any length written in continuous prose are usually divided into paragraphs. There is usually also either a small gap between the paragraphs and / or the first line of a new paragraph is indented slightly.

A typical paragraph has three sections:

·         A lead sentence (sometimes called the topic sentence). This is normally the first or second sentence in the paragraph that tells the reader what the paragraph I about.

·         Body of the paragraph. There follow a number of sentences usually two to five that develop this subject matter further.

·         Concluding sentence. This has two purposes: to round off and /or sum up what has gone before, and to provide a lead in the next paragraph.

The four elements essential to good paragraph writing are: unity, order, coherence, and completeness. The entire paragraph should have a unity and talk about the same thing. There should be a definite order in which you are giving details and the details should be coherent enough for the reader to understand. The paragraph should give a complete idea of its purpose.

In fiction, start a new paragraph when there’s a shift in focus, idea, or direction. You can also start a new paragraph when there’s a shift in time and place.

Example of a good paragraph:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

― H. Jackson Brown Jr., P.S. I Love You

This post is a part of the APRIL A-Z Challenge 

Friday, 17 April 2015

Object Compliment

An object complement is an noun, pronoun, or adjective which follows a direct object and renames it or tells what the direct object has become. It is most often used with verbs of creating or nominating such as make, name, elect, paint, call, etc.

SUBJECT        VERB                          OBJECT                      OBJECT COMPLIMENT
She                   appointed                          her                                 deputy captain.

The object compliment can be:
·        A Noun:
I appointed him captain.
·        An adjective or adjective phrase:
Surya made him uneasy.
·        A noun phrase:
Both the universities made him honorary doctor.
·        A noun clause:
He made it what it is today.

Examples of Object Compliments from literature:

·         "I paint the plaster walls white, except for the little nook under the sloping roof where my bed fits just perfectly. There, I paint the walls and sloping ceiling black."
(Meredith Hall, Without a Map. Beacon, 2007)

·         "The widow she cried over me, and called me a poor lost lamb, and she called me a lot of other names, too."
(Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, 1885)

·         "Bheema joined Gandhi in his struggle for India's independence and called his father a traitor."
(Anita Rau Badami, Tamarind Mem. Viking Penguin, 1996)

This post is a part of the APRIL A-Z Challenge 

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Neither / nor

Neither / nor is used in a sentence, in the negative sense, when you want to state that two or more things are not true simultaneously. When these two conjunctions are used as a pair, the two expressions that are linked should be of same grammatical status:

·         Two words:
Example: Neither muggles nor witches visited the house again.

·         Two phrases:
Example: The weather in Bengaluru is neither too hot nor too cold.

·         Two clauses:
Example: My sister is a person who questions neither what she sees nor what she hears.

Now for some exercise.

Combine the following sentences using neither…nor…

1.       Rema is not beautiful. She is not intelligent.

2.       Ravi does not attend the class regularly. He does not learn his lessons either.

3.       This book is not interesting. It is not useful either.

4.       Saran did not pass the test. Abhinav did not pass the test.

5.       Mohan does not play cricket. His brother also does not play cricket.


1.       Rema is neither beautiful nor intelligent.

2.       Ravi neither attends the class regularly nor learns his lessons.

3.       This book is neither interesting nor useful.

4.       Neither Saran nor Abhinav passed the test.

5.       Neither Mohan nor his brother plays cricket.

 This post is a part of the APRIL A-Z Challenge