Grammar, Punctuation & Phrases

A collection of answers to grammar, spelling and punctuation questions, plus explanations on the origins of popular phrases.

Learn More / Page 2

Once this skinny mark of excitement was mainly the provenance of excited teenage girls and inexperienced novelists. But now we're all peppering our sentences with exclamation marks. Is this a good thing?

By Melanie Radzicki McManus

In our modern vernacular, the phrase "that's just semantics" has somehow become shorthand to insinuate the speaker has argued something trivial or unimportant. But what does it really mean?

By Michelle Konstantinovsky

Abbreviations are supposed to make things easier, but when people misuse or misunderstand them they often do just the opposite. How well do you know these commonly flubbed abbreviations?

By Alia Hoyt

Advertisement

Mnemonic devices are little tricks — like acronyms and phrases — that help us memorize important info. Our quiz will test your knowledge of everything from geography to music scales. And every single answer has a fun mnemonic attached.

By Mark Mancini

That old comedian's advice that the "k" sound is always good for a laugh has been proven true, too.

By Dave Roos

Groups of animals sure have some funny names. You can thank the Book of St. Albans for that.

By Jesslyn Shields

Advertisement

Goddesses once reigned supreme across many cultures. So what happened, and did written language hasten their fall?

By Robert Lamb

What in the world did Grandma mean when she used words like "tarnation"?

By Alia Hoyt

How could we run out of trademarked words? It sounds impossible, but it's growing more and more likely.

By John Perritano

Which of these would you like to see on your computer keyboard?

By Michelle Konstantinovsky

Advertisement

You were probably used to red squiggles showing up for spelling errors and green ones for grammatical errors in Microsoft Word documents. But why was the red usually right and the green usually wrong?

By Dave Roos

You know them. They're the people who act like they're not mad, but really are. They're passive aggressive and say some of these five zingers.

By Michelle Konstantinovsky

Kim Jong Un called Donald Trump a dotard. Here are some equally entertaining, out-of-date options the 45th president could've thrown back in his face.

By Christopher Hassiotis

What's the meaning behind how we spell theater and theatre? And does it really matter?

By Mark Mancini

Advertisement

There's no 'U' in Charles or 'B' in William, so how did those get to be the nicknames?

By Dave Roos

Nope, it has nothing to do with the health department.

By Dave Roos

There's a term for a vanishing letter like that in spoken American English's Wednesday. But first, some history about ancient gods.

By Laurie L. Dove

"Flower's For Sale!" "Happy Birthday from the Smith's!" Why do we commit these apostrophe abuses, and how can we stop them?

By Alia Hoyt

Advertisement

The indigenous language Nheengatu uses something called "celestial pointing" in place of words, making it a language that's both auditory and visual.

By Christopher Hassiotis

A study found that introverts were more likely than extroverts to negatively judge those who made grammar mistakes and typos. No introverts were available to comment.

By Kate Kershner

Are you Netflixing out tonight? Mentosing up for your hot date? Sure, the Internet wasn't invented to turn nouns into verbs, but it definitely helps spread the word.

By John Donovan

Anyone who has received a text or an email has seen the wild proliferation of the once rarely used exclamation point.

By John Donovan

Advertisement

A recent study shows that the more creative a person's use of profanity, the better their overall vocabulary.

By Chris Opfer

We believe that saying curse words always evolves from taboo to eventually acceptable. But sometimes it goes the opposite way, too.

By Dave Roos