-David Kong-

Transitions are more than just your move from high school to college or from college to real life. In writing, transitions are used to connect one idea to the next, sort of like word bridges. Pictured below is a word bridge:


Transitions allow paragraphs to flow more smoothly into each other. They can help the reader understand more of what the writer is saying because they can reference an idea previously stated in the reading.

Now, transitions are used for more than just connecting ideas. They can be used to add an idea, compare two things, show an exception, time, sequence of events, repeat, emphasize, or give an example.

Some cases where you would use transitions are:

Referring back to something you said, while also adding to the topic:

As I previously stated I like waffles, but only with if they have syrup on them.

As I said before there are no good Nicholas Cage movies, however I still enjoyed National Treasure.

In addition to being healthier, exercising also makes you stronger and have more endurance.

Saying when and what order a series of events happened in:

First, I told my mom that I failed the quiz. Second, she punished me for a week. Third, I then learned that I should study more before a quiz.

To help show the reader what you mean:

For example, Rubik’s cubes are a type of puzzle.

To give an idea, the current was so strong, I could not swim back to where the raft was.

Transitions can also help the reader make sense of two different ideas that are stated. For example, if the writer is being jumpy in their work, the transition could tie in the two ideas that are being discussed and make the whole work of writing make more sense.

There are different situations in which transitions can be used such as between sections, connecting paragraphs, and even to move within a paragraph. They are basically used to organize thoughts in a way that makes sense.

Transition Tips:

  • Try not to use the same transition word over and over, because the reader will get bored and it will feel weird to read.
  • Use transitions to make a smooth movement from one idea to the next, instead of abruptly changing from one topic to another.
  • Some transition words sound more professional and go along better in certain circumstances than others.
  • End the first idea with something to relate to in the following idea.

If used correctly, transitions can make you sound smarter and more organized to your audience.


Semicolons to the Rescue


When a comma is too little and a period is too much, the semicolon is there to save the day.


The semicolon is the perfect punctuation mark to meet so many of your everyday needs; it’s just so dang handy! Whether you are trying to link two related independent clauses, give a list of elements that contain commas, or just trying to sound sophisticated, the semicolon is the punctuation for you. In general, a semicolon provides a longer pause for the reader than a comma would, but doesn’t bring the reader to a full stop like a period. It can be used to create artful pauses that provide some breathing room and ensure a more pleasurable reading experience.


Still confused? That’s okay. We’ll get through this together; I believe in you, and more importantly, I believe in semicolons. Let’s start with some simple rules:

Use a semicolon to connect two related independent clauses.

I had no idea what I was getting into when I put on that supersuit; I never wanted this kind of responsibility.

This is the most common use for a semicolon. If you’ve got a bunch of broken up independent clauses that are just yearning to be together, patch them up with a semicolon or two. Alternatively, avoid the deadly comma splice by using a semicolon instead of a comma to connect those deceptive short independent clauses:

Don’t do this: The suit gives power, it is also a burden.

Do this instead: The suit gives power; it is also a burden.

Use a semicolon to connect two independent clauses with a transitional phrase or conjunctive adverbs.

I burned down a whole neighborhood last night; at the same time, I did save that kitten.

This is a similar situation to the one above, but in this case, the independent clauses have a transitional phrase or conjunctive adverb between them. Usually, the two independent clauses are not related like they are with Rule #1, so without that transitional phrase/conjunctive adverb, it would be wrong to use a semicolon.

Don’t do this: I spend all my time fighting for justice; I am quite broke.

Do this instead: I spend all my time fighting for justice; consequently, I am quite broke.

Use a semicolon to separate a list containing elements with commas

I saved Ruben, the baker’s son; Daisy, the florist’s daughter; and Alvin, the chipmunk.

If you are trying to list some listings and the listings you are listing contain commas, you can use a semicolon as a “super comma” and help avoid some confusion.


No, really! When the elements in a list contain commas, it can be very confusing as to what is actually being listed. Whenever any item in a list contains a comma, replace the separating commas with semicolons so the reader is able to tell exactly what items are being added to the list.

Don’t do this: There are a few people who tell me I should stop running around in tights: my wife, Cheryl, the mayor, and Ruben.

Do this instead: There are a few people who tell me I should stop running around in tights: my wife, Cheryl; the mayor; and Ruben.

Use a semicolon to separate clauses containing commas

For breakfast, people usually eat cereal, oatmeal, or fruit; but I eat cookies, just because I can.

This can be more of a personal preference. It comes down to how confusing the sentence reads with only commas, and if it is worth it to switch out the comma connecting the two clauses with a semicolon for readability. Often times, it is because semicolons don’t cost any money.


Now you know the in-and-outs of semicolons; do with this knowledge what you will. With great power comes great responsibility, as they say. Which is probably not much power or responsibility, but you might be able to fool a couple people into thinking you are a bit more sophisticated than you really are.

Verb Tenses

-Levi Rennick-

A verb’s tense?Questions
What about a verb is tense?
Why don’t they just relax?
Do they need a shoulder massage or something?

A verb’s tense is not about stiff shoulders, or the verb needing to take 5, but is an attribute that tells us when the action took place.

There are many types of tenses, but the three common types of tenses, known as simple tenses:

Past tense – verbs that show actions that happened in the past

Eg. I created a blog post on verb tenses today.

Present tense – verbs that show actions that occur regularly or are always happening

Eg. I create a blog post on verb tenses.

Future tense – verbs that show actions that will occur in the future

Eg. I will create a blog post on verb tenses

There is also something called ‘perfect tense,’ which are formed with helping verbs like have, has, had, will, and shall. After the helping verbs, the past participles[1] of the verb are added on. Again, there are three perfect tenses:

Past perfect tense – actions that came directly before another action that happened in the past.

This uses has or have

Eg. We had played a game of chess in the lounge.

Present prefect tense – actions that were recently finished, or completed sometime in the past.

This uses had

Eg. We have played a game of chess in the lounge.

Future perfect tense – actions that will happen before other future actions occur.

This uses will have or shall have.

Eg. By tomorrow, we will have played a game of chess in the lounge


Verb tense tips:

When writing about an idea or telling a story, you generally do not want to change what tense you are in (especially when in the middle of a paragraph), for consistency – tell your story from either the past, present, or future.

You can change tense, but make sure your reader knows that the story is now being told from a different time!

This is also not to say that you should never or can never change tense, it is just a general tip to make writing easier and possibly more concise.

Keeping the time of the action or actions in mind will help when trying to go for consistency within a story, and checking to make sure all the verb tenses correlate to the time frame of the story. Doing so will allow the reader to understand what is written to a better degree!

By using verb tenses properly, not only your writing will be more clear and smooth, but your speaking can be too! Telling stories does not only have to be in words, but when talking to friends or teachers, using proper verb tenses will allow them to have a decent understanding of what happened.




-Cassie Peterson-

Hi all! Today I’m writing about transition words and phrases and telling you how to correctly use them in your own writing. First of all, a transition is a word or a phrase that signals progression from one sentence to another, or one part of a sentence to the other. We use these in our writing constantly! Some examples include: first, next, for example, and however. These words help us move along from one idea to the next in our writing and makes our paper read much smoother.


First, he fed the dog, then he watered the plants.

However, we cannot place the blame entirely on the parents.

Interesting man

Mistakes to Avoid

Fragments beginning with transitions: It can be easy to write a half-sentence, or a fragment, and think it’s a complete sentence. This mistake commonly happens with sentences starting with transition words. Here are some examples which can help you understand what a fragment looks like with a transition word and how the sentence can be fixed.

Incorrect way: I enjoy many outdoor activities. Such as hiking, swimming, and fishing.

Correct way: I enjoy many outdoor activities, such as hiking, swimming, and fishing.

Incorrect way: She is happily married. Along with two kids.

Correct way: She is happily married, along with two kids.

A sentence needs to have a subject and a predicate to be complete!


Setting off transitional expressions

Transitions that are used to connect parts of a sentence are usually signaled by commas. The following example uses the transition phrase, “as a result”, which is followed by a comma before the sentence begins.

As a result, more people in the town are beginning to lock their doors at night.

Linking independent clauses

So, this one is really simple. If two independent clauses are linked by a transition, use a semicolon before the transition to link them. This example uses the same phrase, “as a result,” but shows how it can also be used in the middle of a sentence to link together independent clauses.

She didn’t watch much television as a child; as a result, she could easily keep herself entertained by using her imagination, and later went on to become a great writer.

Revision Strategies

When revising, try reading your paper aloud, as you might catch awkward sounding sentences or paragraphs that are missing or misusing transition words. Any place where you change topics or progress through ideas, you should probably have a transition.

Verb Tenses

-Rachel Lawlor-

Verb tenses tell us about the time an action, or state of being, is taking place. In the english language, there are six verb tenses! Three of them are simple; the other are perfect tenses. It can be tricky to try and figure out whether you should be using simple or perfect tenses, but that’s okay!

Verb Tense

Past tenses of verbs are usually indicated by adding -ed or -d to the end of the verb. These are used to describe something that already happened, in the past. For example:

type – typed

walk – walked

soar – soared

skate – skated

You get the point! Usually, the past participle form of the verb follows the same rule as above. Past participle forms the past perfect tenses of verbs.

Ryan had started his paper earlier that day.

Past participle form can also be used as an adjective. How weird is that?

bored student

frightened dog

Now, irregular verbs are a WHOLE different story. They don’t follow the norm of the suffixes above being added. They like to do their own thing, which can get confusing.

GOT Tense

These little rebels don’t play by regular verbs’ rules. In fact, the don’t play by ANY rules. You pretty much just have to have a good understanding of the English language, or you have to memorize them. Here are some common irregular verbs:

Present                              Past                                 Past Participle

bite                                 bit                                       bitten, bit

 read                               read                                    read

 shake                             shook                                shaken

See what I mean? There are no rules. The most annoying of all irregular verbs, for me, is hang.

                   hang(suspend)                       hung                                     hung

                   hang(execute)                         hanged                                hanged

How confusing is that? The verb lie has a similar thing going on, depending if you mean to recline or to not tell the truth.

                 lie(recline)                          lay                                               lain

                 lie                                          lied                                               lied


That’s my kind of world! If you come across irregular verbs, try to revert back to your grammar lessons in elementary and middle school. They drilled this into you! I had to write out the irregular verb tables at least three times.

If you’re writing and don’t know how or what tense to use for a verb, say it out loud and see how it sounds. Make sure when writing a paper, you stay consistent with your tense. Don’t flip flop between past and present, or vice versa.


Subject-verb agreement is also important. Without it, your sentences can sound very awkward. It’s hardest when a preposition is in between the subject and the verb.

            The students in the class use their laptops.


            The students in the class uses their laptops.

If you have a doubt of what to do for a present tense sentence like this, take out the preposition to see how it sounds.

            The students use their laptops.


            The students uses their laptops.

Clearly, the first choice is correct. The subject is plural, you must use the plural-present form of the verb. In the sentences above, class is singular, but it is not the subject.

Hopefully these rules and examples will help you with verb tenses in the future!


Sentence Structure & Fragments

-Symone Green-

Hey classmates! It’s time to talk about a subject we all struggle with, but never want to address: poor sentence structure.


Sentence structure is important because, without it, communication and writing would become ineffective.


So, let’s get things straight. A proper sentence contains both a subject and a predicate. Sentence fragments (Fragment meaning ‘a small part broken or separated off something’) are lacking either the subject or the predicate. Here are some examples of sentence fragments:

“Typed an essay in 40 minutes.”

“The overworked college student typed an essay in 40 minutes.”

The initial sentence does not include a subject, and the reader cannot tell who or what did the action. This phrase, “The overworked college student an essay in 40 minutes,” gives a description of the subject, the college student, but does not provide the reader with what it is the college student is doing.


These examples probably sound unnatural as you read them, which is what I was going for. A method to distinguish between sentences and sentence fragments is to read your sentences aloud as you are in the writing process.


I know it may sound tedious, but Google Docs and Word may not always recognize your grammatical errors. So my best advice is to trust your ears. If it sounds wrong, it probably is. Do not be shy to read aloud, and if you get tired, ask a friend, College Writing instructor, and know you can always find additional help on campus. I hope this helped!

I checked out Purdue OWL Engagement’s website for online help.

“Two” Many Homophones


Every day we decipher the meaning of words based on only their sound and context. How can we remember the meaning, and learn the spelling, of words that sound exactly the same?

What are Homophones?

The word homophone itself can be split into two root parts: homo meaning same and phone meaning sound. They are words that sound the same while spoken, but have a different meaning, and even the spelling can be different.


For example, Bat and Bat:


More Examples are:

Wright and Right

Witch and Which

Hide and Hide


Do you remember when you were in grade school and you always confused their, there, and they’re? And to, too, and two? I’m sure your teacher does.

Even now it is so easy to to confuse all of the homophones, so here are some helpful ideas of how to remember!

According to the Virgina I Bypass, an online source for tutoring, creating phrases or mnemonic devices for the homophones that you usually forget is a great way to remember!


To remember the difference between Meat and Meat you can remember:

You can eat Meat, so put eat in Meat!

To remember Here vs. Hear:

People hear with ears, so put ear in hear!

To remember Stare and Stairs:

Balloons rise in the air as people would climb stairs, so put air in stairs.

Unfortunately, some homophones are not so simple. For example:

To remember Stationery vs. Stationary:

You can’t put ‘still’ in stationary, nor ‘letter’ in stationary, so you have to be a little more creative, for example:

Letters are written on stationeries. Stationery and letter both have the letter e!

To remember Slay vs Sleigh:

Horses who pull sleighs, neigh!

Homophones in Righting

Some poets play with the idea of the homophones, using the appropriate homophone to make their poem more poetic, or playing with the repetition of the same sound.


Buy Michael J. Spangle

Homophones are such a pane.
Mistakes show up thyme and again.
Poets are the wurst at using rime
Sew many errors are such a crime.

Yew never no ware ewe will sea
A homophone count won, too, three!
And Yule never know how, ore even wen,
A homophone will strike again

Due you understand these words eye rite?
Dew they make scents to you’re site?
Than you have entered a mystery
Deeper then the deep blew see.
Believe it or not, the sentence below is grammatically correct:

Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo

The word buffalo has three different meanings:“the city of Buffalo, New York; the uncommon verb to buffalo, meaning “to bully or intimidate” and the animal itself, buffalo.” “Translated” the sentence means “Bison from Buffalo, bully bully bison from Buffalo.”


Try using homophones in your writing symbolically, but remember to create your mnemonic devices so you never forget which is which!


Proper Commas in a Compound Sentence



Commas are one of the most frequently used punctuation marks, primarily used to specify a pause or a break in a sentence. Not knowing how to properly use a comma can lead to many embarrassing and unintentional misunderstandings, like these pictures below.

(Sources: 1,2)

To prevent these embarrassing and unintentional mistakes, here are a few rules one should keep in mind to use commas properly! For more information on comma rules, check out the Easy Writer handbook!

Rule 1: Use a comma after an introductory event

                  Example: After the movies, we had dinner at my house.

If the introductory phrase is roughly three to four words, an introductory comma is optional, but should be added to avoid any potential confusion. Remember to use a comma after an introductory phrase in a sentence.

Rule 2: Add commas when a nonrestrictive element is being used in a sentence

  Example: Leo, the King of the Jungle, roared triumphantly.

According to the Easy Writer, a nonrestrictive element gives information not essential to the basic meaning of the sentence. So, when you add extra information that does not change the meaning of the sentence, make sure to add commas to help indicate to the reader that there is a pause in between your main clause and your nonrestrictive element. The picture on the right (see above) is a clear example of not following this rule.

Rule 3: Add commas in a compound sentence

 Example: The squirrel decided to cross the road, but changed his mind halfway across.

A compound sentence can be two or more independent clauses added together with a coordinating conjunction (such as “but,” “for,” and “and”). Use the comma before the conjunction to help the reader know that there is a break between two different statements.

One last thing about commas and I will be done, I promise. Did you know that the last comma from a list of things in a sentence actually has a special name? It is called the Oxford comma! While the Oxford comma is deemed optional and stylistic, there are cases of sentences being difficult to read without the specially named comma.


(Source 3)

Here is one example where the Oxford comma is used for clarity, not just for style. Hopefully these rules are already known to you and if not, hopefully these rules have proved some use to you. Remember your comma rules and use them wisely!

Hunters.png(Source 4)



  • Favilla, Emmy. “25 Biggest Comma Fails.”BuzzFeed. 27 Feb. 2013. Web. 28 Jan. 2016.
  • Erickerson, Christine. “16 Unfortunate Misuses of Punctuation.”Mashable. 24 Sept. 2012. Web. 28 Jan. 2016.
  • Pegoda, Andrew J. “The Oxford Comma, Plus Every Comma Rule You Need to Know.”The Oxford Comma. 24 June 2014. Web. 02 Feb. 2016.
  • Erickerson, Christine. “16 Unfortunate Misuses of Punctuation.”Mashable. 24 Sept. 2012. Web. 28 Jan. 2016.


Sentences and Fragments


Sentences are essential to conveying any message. By definition, a sentence requires at the very least a subject and a verb. Lacking either one, turns what was intended to be a complete idea into a piece of one, a fragment, nonsense.

hallwayThe fix? Adjust your syntax to make it into a stand alone sentence or another sentence that shares its ideas.

A fragment lacks either a subject or a verb, for example:

The little girls in dresses at the end of the hallway.

Everything in this fragment just describes the subject. To fix this fragment, a verb would need to be added.

The little girls at the end of the hallway stood and stared for what seemed like forever.

A fragment without a subject could look like this:

Driving around, listening only to music until the sun went down.

This fragment is mostly actions (driving, listening), but without a subject, it doesn’t really make sense. An alternative for this idea could be:

Driving around, he only listened to music until the sun went down.

A pronoun and subtle rearranging makes the difference. Finishing off the idea completes the fragment.

To figure out of your sentence is a fragment, look it without context. Does is make sense without any help from the information in other sentences? It probably makes sense, but can it be a story. Fragments usually surface when a writer is trying to expand on something said previously. Leaving off a subject just because you’ve already mentioned and not using a pronoun can do that.

Another way to spot a fragment, reading your work backwards sentence by sentence (click here for a good example of this strategy).

The thing about most grammar conventions is when they’re overlooked, the writing can improve stylistically. Fragments are often used by writers in publications as emphasis to reinforce important information and ideas.

“’Classic.’ A book which people praise and don’t read.” Mark Twain, a renowned American author, using a fragment to emphasize the main idea he tried to convey.

If used properly, fragments can be powerful tools to affect an audience on a different level. If not, well it kind gives the impression of chaotic incoherence if noticeable enough.


How to Homophone

-Carly Brand-

“What time is are Uber coming?”

“The boys said there not going to get into the frat.”

Holey Cow just dropped my phone in the toilet and it’s still working!!!”

“So your sure Wings Over Amherst still delivers at 4AM?

“Did I leave a pare of heels at your house?”

“It is way to difficult to type right now. Evan is going to right down my texts from now on.”

“I don’t know weather I should walk up the hill or get a cab to Van Meter.”

“I think I’m hear… Can you come outside?”

If you are guilty of sending any of these texts, it is a) Saturday Night and b) clear that homophones have got the best of you.

Homophones are different words which sound the same, but are not s-p-e-l-l-e-d the same. For example, the errors in the Saturday Night texts above are visually apparent on paper, but read the sentences aloud and they sound flawless (well, the content is admittedly still a bit concerning…). It’s not the pronunciation that’ll get you, it’s the spelling and meaning.


We’ve all witnessed that one ever-so-grammatically-correct Facebook friend post angrily about the abominable mistakes people make with “there, their, they’re” and “your vs. you’re.” These comments can be discouraging to your Average Joe, just trying to make ends meet in an unnecessarily complicated English-language-life. So next time Grammar Police Gretyl criticizes your innocent blunder, tell her, “Give me a brake BREAK” and send her a few pictures to turn that homophone hate to humor.

You could try asking Grammar Police Gretyl:



She might get a real kick out of that.

You could remind Gretyl that it’s an easy mistake:


And to ask herself a universally applicable question: What would Ryan Gosling say?

And you could even tell Gretyl that even the Most Interesting Man in the World has trouble with homophones.


Not always, though.

In the end, we’ll all make the occasional mix-up, so don’t let it effect AFFECT your confidence. It helps to know which part of speech a word represents. If you know that effect is almost always used as a noun, for example, you are less likely to misuse it in describing actions. The same is true for “are” and “our” – the first is a verb and the second an adjective.

Context and association are also helpful tools. If you can associate the Y in “dye” with a clothes hanger, you will be less likely to spell “die” when writing about clothes and fabrics.

It’s also important to notice and understand the significance of apostrophes, like the one in “they’re.” That way, you’ll realize you didn’t mean to say “they are Grandma” in response to, “Who is that old lady talking to those girls?”

So fear not! With a little practice, you will never again feel vary dumb.


Photo Sources: