The Grammar Nerd

Helping you to get it right.

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Do you use the word “ignorant” incorrectly?

Ignorant does not mean rude, disrespectful, or bad-mannered. Ignorant means unaware, unknowing, or uneducated, so for example, ignorant of the rules. Interestingly, stupid  refers to lack of ability, while ignorant refers to lack of knowledge.

So, think about that the next time that you mean that someone is rude, before you say that he is ignorant!

Filed under ignorant rude

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Seven Rules…
How many times do we hear great words, and how many times do we incorporate them—or try to!—into our daily lives and practices? This list has several of those such words that have been favorites of mine over time. They came to me just when I needed to hear them again. Perhaps they may be just what you needed today.

Seven Rules…

How many times do we hear great words, and how many times do we incorporate them—or try to!—into our daily lives and practices? This list has several of those such words that have been favorites of mine over time. They came to me just when I needed to hear them again. Perhaps they may be just what you needed today.


Filed under seven rules words to live by

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TGN Update

Presentation with Grossman Yanak & Ford,
recipient of Pittsburgh Business Times Best Places to Work in Western PA Award

Last week, I presented my Quick Fixes for Everyday Grammar Blunders as part of an all-day training session for the staff of Grossman Yanak & Ford, Certified Public Accountants and Consultants. They were an energetic group with lots of interactive discussion and questions. I followed a presentation by Melissa McGavick, DTM, of Toastmasters International. I was able to hear a good part of her topic and was thankful that the elements that she reviewed of a good presentation were all a part of mine. Whew! Included in my presentation was a review of Like-itis, the incessant repetition of the word, like, as a filler or crutch word, while speaking. This is a part of every Toastmasters meeting in the role of the Grammarian/Ah Counter. It was the perfect addition to her material!

Here are some of the comments that I received following my presentation:

- Great presentation. I did not realize how many items I needed to have clarified.
- I liked the real-life quotes you presented. Thanks for the outline and references.
- Very informative slides. Presentation was very practical.
- Your presentation was very interesting and informative. You’re very knowledgeable about common grammatical errors.
- I felt it was informative and well done. It’s hard to make grammar entertaining, but you succeeded at it.
- This was a strong and in-depth presentation that was applicable since we rely on written communication.
- This was very informational. You were very helpful in identifying common pitfalls.

- Informative. Good Q&A. Liked the real examples.
- Very good refresher of grammar and punctuation. The presentation was informative and entertaining.

I really enjoy presenting this material, and that group gave me some good ideas for some new topics! Let me work with your organization to help your staff to brush up on grammar and punctuation, add a little polish to their writing and speaking
style, and help to present your company more professionally and confidently. Call me at 412.848.2053 or send me an email at

Here I am with Colleen Febbraro, Human Resources, GYF, and Melissa McGavick, Toastmasters

- Is your professional organization in search of a dynamic speaker?

- Are you in need of professional material for an upcoming conference or workshop?

- Do your employees lack confidence in their communication skills that could be perceived by clients as lack of concern or sloppiness?

- Could your customer service team use a little polish in their communication in client-facing activities?

Featured in Wise Women

We’re all nerds at something, but we can’t be nerds at everything. So, we need each other. And, I believe that we should help each other…

The epidemic of bad grammar has been hitting the news for quite some time. The Wall Street Journal, CBS News, and The New York Times all have headlines that cite the alarmingly high percentages of correspondence among adults and business professionals that contain grammatical errors. With the explosive growth of email and texting over our phones, and the resulting need for brevity, our communication skills have really taken a beating!

Grammar is hardly an attractive topic! It can be intimidating, dull and dry. Why do I do this? Watching someone’s face and seeing that Ah, I get it! during a presentation is exactly why I do this. I love teaching, and I love knowing that I am helping, if only one little bit at a time. It is so rewarding for me to hear someone say, “Thank you. I learned a lot from you today!”

Read the entire article here:

I can help!

Yes, you can have fun with grammar!

October 10, 7pm, Mt. Lebanon Library

October 25, 7pm, Cooper-Siegel Library, Fox Chapel

November 5, 7pm, South Park Library

November 10, 1pm, Carnegie Library, Oakland

December 10, 6pm, Intl. Assn. of Admin. Professionals, Downtown

Filed under professional presentation

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Come to see The Grammar Nerd!

I will be presenting Quick Fixes to Everyday Grammar Blunders in the following locations:

Sept. 20, 7 pm, Upper St. Clair Library

Oct. 10, 7 pm, Mt. Lebanon Library

Oct. 25, 7 pm, Cooper-Siegel Library, Fox Chapel

Nov. 5, 7 pm, South Park Library

Nov. 10, 1 pm, Carnegie Main Library, Oakland

Details available on websites of those locations. Or, send me an email at for more information. I hope to see you there!

Filed under the grammar nerd grammar workshop everyday grammar blunders

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Assess your understanding…

Here are a few of the everyday grammar blunders that I typically review in my presentations:

1. After hearing her news, I felt bad/badly for her.
2. Just between you and I/me, I could use some advise/advice on how to proceed.
3. Your/You’re welcome. It was no problem.
4. They’re/Their/There going away to they’re/their/there vacation home.
5. I want to go to, to

6. He was really affected/effected by the medication. He felt the affects/effects immediately.
7. You can’t lose/loose with this policy. Its/It’s coverage at its/it’s best.

See answers below.

1. Bad. In this case, the word “felt” is used as a linking verb rather an action verb, so an adjective is used rather than an adverb.
2. Me. “Between” is a preposition, and so therefore an obect of the preposition should be used rather than a subject.
Advice. This phrase is seeking an object, so hence needs a noun. Advise is a verb.
3. You’re: you are welcome. Your is a possessive pronoun, which is not what is needed here.
4. They’re: they are going to their (shows possession) house.
5. Too: also.
6. Affected: verb. Effects: noun.
7. Lose: verb. It’s: it is; its: possession.

This is a very brief list of some of the topics that I cover on a regular basis. I go into much more detail than I have here and provide examples that help you to understand why we sometimes use the wrong form, what is correct, and tricks for remembering the correct usage. I would be happy to talk with you about developing a program for your organization.

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mrnjauu asked: It's me again!! Thank you for your help:D I have a lot more questions to ask so feel free to tell me to stop :D
"The big stone house, set in its ten-acre park of trees and surrounded by a high, wrought-iron fence,.."
What clauses are these (set in its ten-acre park of trees and surrounded by a high, wrought-iron fence,..") or are they phrases??
Thank you

Another good resource.

Here is one about phrases and clauses:

They both do a great job of addressing your questions!

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mrnjauu asked: Hello again !!! How can I make a difference between an adverbial and an object of preposition?

Ha! I had to look up that one. Funny, as a native English speaker, I do not think about some of these labels. Many of them I have stored away, and many are too long ago learned that I cannot recall! I found a great response to your question. Here is the link: This should be helpful for you. I usually just search in google and find many responses! Here are some others that you might like: