Some Frequently Asked Questions – and Answers

Instant Quiz

Can you correct the error in the sentence below? Scroll to the bottom of today’s post for the answer.

The hurricane wrecked havoc on the plans for our family reunion.

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Here are some FAQ’s about writing for you! These are frequently asked questions that show up in social media and my email account.

What are some big words that will impress my readers?

There aren’t any. Nobody is impressed if you say “Extinguish the illumination” when you mean “Turn out the lights.” You need to have something interesting to say – and to know how to say it in an engaging way. That’s how you impress readers.

Can I start a sentence with but?

Yes. All English-language professional writers start sentences with but – frequently. You’ve probably never read a book, newspaper, or magazine that doesn’t have sentences starting with but.
You can learn more here:  Can a Sentence Start with But?

How do I know when to use a semicolon?

There’s no right (or wrong) time to use a semicolon. You never need one. (Well, there’s an obscure rule about using semicolons when items in a list have commas.)
Use a semicolon when you want to show off. It’s easy!
Find two sentences that go together. (Most sentences will fill the bill.)

Change the period to a semicolon. Lower-case the next letter. You’re done.
Jane overslept this morning. She was late for school.
Jane overslept this morning; she was late for school.
We had to change the date for our meeting. Tuesday afternoon is good for everyone.
We had to change the date for our meeting; Tuesday afternoon is good for everyone.

Can you recommend a grammar book for me to study?

No. Formal grammar is a waste of time. Circling words and memorizing parts of speech never helped anyone become a better writer.
Here’s what you need to work on:
-usage (punctuation, word choice, diction, capital letters, and similar skills)
-writing powerful sentences
-writing strong paragraphs
-selecting, organizing, and presenting ideas and information

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Instant Quiz ANSWER

The correct expression is wreak havoc. Wreak means “cause damage.”

The hurricane wreaked havoc on the plans for our family reunion.  CORRECT


What Your English Teacher Didn’t Tell You is available in paperback and Kindle formats from Amazon.com and other online booksellers.
“A useful resource for both students and professionals” – Jena L. Hawk, Ph.D., Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College

“Personable and readable…Jean knows her subject forwards and backwards.” – Adair Lara, author of Hold Me Close, Let Me Go

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