1. It’s OK to start a sentence with a conjunction
Despite what your teacher may have told you, starting a sentence with “and” or “but” is acceptable according to most style guides. But it does look a bit informal.
2. “Which” and “that” are not interchangeable
While they are both relative pronouns, “which” should be used in non-defining clauses with a comma, as in, “My car, which is in the shop today, has a flat tire.”
“That,” on the other hand, should only be used in comma-free clauses that are essential to the meaning of the sentence, as in, “The car that had a flat tire is in the shop today.”
3. Ablaut reduplication
Reduplication is the repetition of a word in a phrase like bye-bye or no-no. Ablaut reduplication changes the interior vowels of one or more of the almost-identical words in a phrase, as in tick-tock or lovey-dovey. Though we’re not usually aware of it, there is an order that the emphasized vowels should be placed in. In cases where there are two words, the first vowel should be “i” and the second is either “a” or “o,” as in hip-hop or chit chat. If there are three words, the order of the vowels has to be “i, a, o” as in tic-tac-toe. (Try reversing the order and see how it sounds.)
4. Parenthesis and punctuation
If a parenthetical phrase is at the end of a sentence, the terminal punctuation mark must be placed outside of the parentheses (like this).
(However, if the parenthetical is a full sentence and not part of another sentence, the punctuation mark is included within the parentheses.)
5. Adjectives have a proper order
Here’s one we follow instinctively without questioning why: In most cases when multiple adjectives are used, their order is as follows: opinion, size, age, shape, color, origin, material, purpose – and then the noun they modify. They’re your “nice big old misshapen brown Italian leather hiking boots.” Try it out of order and see how strange it sounds.
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