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Marcia Sprague

The Grammarnatrix

How to make fewer grammar mistakes

Recently, an Insider reader shared her pet peeve with the Grammarnatrix: people incorrectly using the words less and fewer. She confided that she becomes especially annoyed in the supermarket checkout line when she reads the sign, “Express Lane – 12 items or less.” The reader implored the Grammarnatrix to share the grammar rules with the Insider audience (and perhaps the supermarket… 0

July 30, 2013

The Grammarnatrix: Marcia composes a column comprising words

Today the Grammarnatrix responds to a reader who wants clarification between the words comprise and compose. A worthy question considering most people usually use comprise and don’t even know the two words are different. This answer will excite you to start using these words correctly whenever you can. Comprise means “to contain,” as in “the office comprises 10 chairs.”… 0

July 9, 2013

The Grammarnatrix: How to have fun with antiautonyms

Even though the Grammarnatrix has been on sabbatical, she has received many grammar inquiries from Insider readers. Her next few articles will address these inquiries. One query read, “I have a Grammarnatrix question from a flummoxed fan: why is it that the words reiterate and iterate and ravel and unravel mean the same thing?” The Grammarnatrix, hating to admit she was flummoxed… 0

June 25, 2013
the grammarnatrix

It's not St. Patrick's Day without some double Ds

 Happy St. Patrick’s Day and top o’ the morning to you!You may know that St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and St. Patrick’s Day is a religious holiday. St. Patrick was raised a Christian in Britain. For a quick history lesson, one story goes that he was captured by Irish raiders, taken to Ireland where he was held captive for six years and became… 0

March 19, 2013
The Grammarnatrix

Bear witness to irony and apostrophes

The Grammarnatrix takes her column to the front page of the Feb. 16 Concord Monitor where the irony was not lost in the headline, “Witnesses: We didn’t see anything.” The Grammarnatrix chuckled, as the very definition of witness is anyone who has seen or heard anything! Did other Insider readers chuckle, titter or nod at the amusement of the word choice? 0

February 26, 2013
The Grammarnatrix

Anaphoras are not anathema to the Insider

Super Bowl XLVII was a couple of Sundays ago, and the Grammarmatrix watched it with millions of other Americans. What a close game! What a rousing half time! What a year of commercials! The biggest play of the night for the Grammarmatrix was the use of an anaphora in the commercial for Budweiser Black Crown Beer. You know, when they said, “Here’s to taste. Here’s to our kind… 0

February 19, 2013
The Grammarnatrix

Our favorite actress is Natalie Portmanteau

What else could a Grammarmatrix do but be lured in by the promising phrase, “A wacky way with words,” on the front page of the Feb. 3 Sunday Monitor. Music to the Grammarmatrix’s ears! And she wasn’t disappointed! 0

February 12, 2013
The Grammarnatrix

There’s no shame in the dictionary game


January 29, 2013
The Grammarnatrix

This grammar lesson takes effect immediately

This week the Grammarmatrix answers the never-ending question, “How do you know whether you should use the word affect or effect in a sentence?” If you look up the words affect and effect in the dictionary, the Oxford American Dictionary says those two words “have totally different meanings and should not be confused.” The American Heritage Dictionary states “the tendency… 0

January 22, 2013
The Grammarnatrix

Ouch, we’ve got a splitting infinitive


January 2, 2013