Posts By: Nicholas Walker

Its or It’s

Why so confusing? Using “its” when you really meant “it’s” is a very common punctuation error, and it is easy to understand why it happens. The two forms sound identical. Not to worry, it is easy to eliminate this error from your writing if you ask yourself one simple question: Do I mean it is or

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Can I use an indefinite article with a plural noun?

Rule: Don’t use indefinite articles with plural words.Incorrect: He has a muscular arms. Correct: He has muscular arms. Rule: Use a partitive structure with words that are never singular.Incorrect: She wore a blue jeans. (Other examples: shorts, pants, jeans, leggings) Correct: She wore a pair of blue jeans. Exception: Words like “series” and “species” look plural, but they are also singular and can be used with an article.Correct: I

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What is the difference between a simple sentence, a compound sentence, and a complex sentence?

Learn the difference between simple, compound and complex sentences with anticipations, interruptions, and afterthoughts. In just 17 minutes, you will know how to punctuate and structure every sentence you will ever want to write.  Error Correction Exercise: Learn how to correct comma errors Watch a video: Learn the difference between a simple sentence, a compound sentence, and

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Question Formation Errors

Question forms in English can be tricky.Most questions require the inversion of the subject and the auxiliary. There are a number of auxiliaries to choose from, and auxiliaries must agree with their subject. This handy guide will help you eliminate common errors and ask correctly formed questions.   The Virtual Writing Tutor grammar checker can catch

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Silent Letters: Pronunciation Made Easy

English is semi-phonetic, which means that the way a word is spelled can give clues to its pronunciation but can also be quite misleading. Often, the pronunciation of a word can be very different to what you might predict based on its spelling. One way English is semi-phonetic is the use of silent letters. Silent

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Had Better: Meaning, Form, and Common Errors

Use “Had better” for strong or urgent advice or for threats. Meaning We use “had better” for strong advice, urgent advice (for others and yourself), and threats.  You had better do the dishes before your mom comes home. [Strong advice]You had better run! Your train is coming. [Urgent advice]I‘d better put the turkey in the

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Walk-me-through the Main Features

You may have noticed the latest addition to the Virtual Writing Tutor grammar checker main page. It’s a short little walkthrough of the principal features of the grammar checker for newcomers. You only get to see it twice before it disappears forever. Why did we add it? The Problem One usability issue I see again

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TOEFL Writing Topics

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? A person should never make an important decision alone. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? A person’s childhood years (the time from birth to twelve years

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IELTS or TOEFL: Frequently Asked Questions

Choosing an English proficiency test for immigration or university entrance can be a challenge. Two of the most popular tests are the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and International English Language Testing System (IELTS). They have similarities and differences you need to know about before you choose so that you make the

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