The Better English category features all blog posts related to improving your English. There are tips on spelling, grammar, syntax and punctuation.

7 funniest grammar mistakes - Infographic

7 Funniest English Grammar Mistakes

Seven of the Funniest English Grammar Mistakes

English is one of the most spoken languages in the world. But how well are we using it? Most of the time we are all really good at speaking English, but there are a few words that we constantly mix up.

As we proofread documents we come across a lot of common misunderstandings in the use of certain English words.

Here is an infographic we designed to help eliminate some of the common errors we come across every day.

Seven Funniest English Grammar Mistakes

Infographic, Seven Funniest English Grammar Mistakes

Did we miss anything? Let us know…

The STAR Team

Difference between who's and whose

What’s the difference between who’s and whose?

Difference between who's and whose

Better English: difference between who’s and whose.

Better English Grammar: difference between who’s and whose

A quick English grammar lesson to help you learn the difference between who’s and whose.

WHO’S

Who’s is the contracted form of who is or less commonly, who has.

Example: Who’s working today? This can also be written as ‘who is working today?’

WHOSE

Whose is the possessive form of who. It means ‘of whom’ or ‘belonging to whom’.

Example: Whose translation is this? We find the easiest way to deal with contractions is that when you see the apostrophe, just expand it in your head. It’s the same with its and it’s. When you expand and read it in your head it’s much easier to decide which word is correct in its given context.

The STAR Team

What’s the difference between among and between?

Question Mark difference between among and between

Difference between among and between?

An easy guideline to follow is

  • Between two […]
  • Among many […]

Use between for two elements and among for three or more elements. We use among when something is in a group or a crowd of people and we use between when it’s two things. However, there is the exception of saying, Let’s keep it between us. The subjective pronoun us may refer to two or more people.

Examples of the use of among: They discussed the issue among the group; let them talk among themselves.

Examples of the use of between: They bought the house between them; I will be able to choose between French and Italian for my first language to study.

Note: Some people use among and between about two people and they could use it for three or more depending on how they write or say it.

The STAR Team

Eason Spelling Bee improves your spelling!

A great competition we came across this week is being run by Eason. Eason is challenging schools in every county across Ireland to have fun and improve their spelling in a competition to find the Eason Spelling Bee champion schools.

In each county, a county Spelling Bee will offer to all schools the chance to enter and compete. The best speller from each county will go to the provincial finals. Finally, the four provincial winners will then compete for the Eason All-Ireland Spelling Bee title on Tubridy on 2FM on the 22nd of June in RTÉ studios.

The first prize constitutes a book library to the value of  €7,500 and every entrant wins a book!

All the county Bee winners who will be taking part in the provincial finals are listed as follows:

Munster

  • Kerry: Tommy O’Neill, Scoil Iosagain, Ballybunion
  • Limerick: Fiona Gleeson, St. Paul’s National School, Dooradoyle
  • Cork: John Corkery, Ovens National School, Ovens
  • Waterford: Roisin Daly, Liosmor Mochuda N.S., Lismore
  • Tipperary: Rory Delaney, Sacred Hearts, Air Hill, Roscrea
  • Clare: Emily Meehan, St John’s Primary School, Shannon

Connaught

  • Galway: Ethan Roche, Newtown National School
  • Mayo: John Ryan, St. Brendan’s National School
  • Sligo: James Devaney, St. Patrick’s National School, Calry
  • Roscommon: Shauna Mullen, St. Mary’s Primary School, Strokestown
  • Leitrim: James Clancy, Ardvarney National School, Dromahair

Ulster

  • Fermanagh: Cal Blake, Holy Trinity Primary School
  • Cavan: Adam Kelly, Killygarry N. S.
  • Monaghan: Alison McBride, Gaelscoil Ultain
  • Armagh: Elise Smyth, St. Mary’s Primary School, Derrytrasna
  • Donegal: Thomas Cavanagh, Saint Patrick’s BNS
  • Down: Àine Smyth, Holy Family Primary School
  • Antrim: Lea Carson, Pond Park Primary School (Host School)
  • Tyrone: Amy Clements, McClintock Primary School
  • Derry: Terence McLaughlin, Holy Family P.S.

Leinster

  • Longford: Ciarán, St. Matthews National School, Ballymahon
  • Wicklow: Rebecca White, St. Kevin’s National School, Greystones
  • Dublin: Edward Collins, St. Mary’s National School, Donnybrook
  • Westmeath: Bronwyn Smith, Scoil Etchen Naofa
  • Laois: Ciara Phelan, Scoile Bhride
  • Carlow: Raena McElwee, Scoil Naomh Peaders, Ballon
  • Meath: Diarmuid MacMurchada, Rathbeggan
  • Kildare: Ciarán Reilly, Scoil Diarmada N.S., Castledermot
  • Wexford: Conn McIntyre, Barntown N.S. (Host School)
  • Offaly: Gillian Razon, Durrow N.S.
  • Louth: Clarice O’Brien, St. Buites N.S., Tenuer, Dunleer
  • Kilkenny: Liam O Lionaird, Gaelscoil Osrai

Good luck to all of them! Have fun and do the best you can!

We also have an online Spelling Rules Game should you wish to test your English language spelling. The Spelling Rules Game is an app that teaches spelling rules in a dyslexia-friendly way.

The STAR Team
Updated: 11th May 2015

The World’s Smallest Book On Spicing Up Your English

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Introduction:

We have all learnt English in school, but probably have forgotten some of the finer details of the fun stuff. So we thought we would write “The World’s Smallest Book On Spicing Up Your English.” on English, specifically figures of speech for you to enjoy. This should give you some good excuses to spice up your next conversation.

Chapter 1: How do you spice up your English?

Here are some interesting ways to add flavor to your language.

Alliteration: When in a sentence the same letter is repeated at the start of each word: Somebody said something to Sarah. So you get a great sounding sentence.  So She Said Successfully!

Assonance: When words repeat the same vowel sound, a resemblance of sounds and a bit like alliteration. How Now Brown Cow!.

Euphemism: Replacing an unpleasant word with something that is not so aggressive. We talk about the Grim Reaper instead of “Death”, or the “He passed away” instead of “He Died”

Hyperbole: When you say something exaggerated for effect. The classic is “I’ve told you this a thousand times” or “Not in a million years”

Litotes: This is where you understate something  – when ‘good’ means ‘very impressive’. It sort of like when someones shows you a trick that is really brilliant and you say “not bad!”, but mean – “cool”.

Metaphor: Comparing other words using ‘as’ or ‘like’. Life is like a bowl of cherries.

Metonymy: An odd one this, where you replace a suggestive word to mean something else. Replacing words with some that are closely related. So an example might be in the US where you can say “it was approved by Washington” instead of “approved by the US Government”.

Onomatopoeia: Words that sound like the action they describe. “Buzzing”, “Hackling”, “Bubbling”.

Oxymoron: Putting two words that do not make sense together because they contradict each other  eg: silent scream, same difference, bitter sweet.

Personification: Also known as Anthropomorphism is where you give human qualities to an inanimate object. Typically comments like the “Wiley Fox” or the “Proud Lion” and “Cheeky Monkies” are examples of personification.

Simile: Comparing something “like” something else. “As dead as a dodo”.

Synecdoche: Is where a part is used to represent the whole. For example a radio is often referred to as “a transistor” or a group of workers might be called “Hands”, “All hands on deck”.

Epilogue (this is the end bit!)
Caution – Use English Wisely

It’s great to spice up your English, but we share this little book of wisdom with a word of caution.  Embellishment when it is not required drives us crazy!

“New and Improved”. – How can it be improved if it’s new?

“A loud explosion” – Are there quiet explosions?

or even worse “a violent explosion”  – we only like the soft ones.

“Fatally wounded” – Killed.

THE END:

And finally have fun with English and remember if we’ve told you a thousand times before – don’t exaggerate!

Do you have sentences that annoy you?  Send them to us we’d love to publish them on our blog.

Is there a space before a question mark?

Is there a space before a question mark?

Space before a question mark? /STAR Translation Imaging

Is there a space before a question mark?

In English, there is no space between the last word of a sentence and its question mark. For example, you would write: How are you?

The rules differ from one language to another, that’s why translators are constantly careful when translating. In French, or in Portuguese for instance, it is required to add a space between the last word of a question and the question mark itself. Therefore in French you would write: Comment allez-vous ? And in Portuguese, one would write: Foi brilhante !

This rule is applied to the exclamation mark as well.

The STAR Team

Better English: It's not its

What’s the difference between it’s and its?

Better English: It's not its, it's and its

Better English: difference between it’s and its.

How to use it’s and its correctly

The dreaded contraction! Fear not. The solution is a simple one to memorize the difference between it’s and its in your writing.

It’s

It’s is a contraction of it is or it has. Simple.

Example: It is always a pleasure to help you or it’s always a pleasure to help you.

Its

Its is a possessive determiner.

Examples: John is ready to help the company grow its business; a baby in its mother’s womb.

Perhaps the easiest way to ensure you are using the correct word is to separate them; if you can say it is, then it’s [as a contraction] is the one to use.

The STAR Team

Other references:Oxford English Dictionary: its or it’s

What’s the difference between data and datum?

Difference between data and datum

Data or datum? / STAR Translation Imaging

Difference between data and datum

Data, like a lot of technical and academic words, comes from Latin. It used to be considered as a collective singular noun. In formal documents — for scientific or scholarly writing — data is mostly used as the plural of datum.

Yet, for those of a non-scientific background, data is common for both singular and plural use. It’s acceptable to write a sentence as ‘translation data is available on their website.’ Data is a mass noun. Mass nouns denote something that cannot be counted. When you refer to a small piece of data, this may be called datum.

Definition

Data (mass noun, plural)
Facts on which a decision is to be based.
Facts to be processed by a computer.
Datum (singular noun)
Item of data

In addition, there are plural forms that do not end in S as listed below.

Plural Singular
Bacteria Bacterium
Dice Die / Dice
Formulae Formula
Supernovae / Supernovas Supernova
Graffiti Graffito
Candelabra Candelabrum
Data Datum
Media  Medium
Opera Opius
Paparazzi Paparazzo
Men Man
Women Woman
Mice Mouse
Referenda Referendum*
*Referendums is also accepted.

The STAR Team

Source: OED

What’s the difference between you and I and you and me?

Difference between you and I and you and me

You and I or you and me?

Difference between you and I and you and me

Do you still struggle to decide which of the above phrases is the correct one?

Between you and me is the grammatically correct answer.

The Explanation

Firstly, you, I and me are pronouns and between is a preposition. The other difference between I and me is that ‘I’ is a subject pronoun and ‘me’ is an object pronoun, therefore the correct phrase is ‘between you and me’. Me is in the object position of that sentence.

Nevertheless, it’s acceptable to say between you and I as it’s appallingly common however, it’s not grammatically correct. Although, it is acceptable to make the following statement, ‘You and I were invited to the ball.’

The STAR Team

Source: Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips

What’s the difference between among and amongst

Question Mark

Difference Between among and amongst

We are often asked what the difference is between two words and which is most appropriate for a given text.

When is it correct to use among or amongst?

For once, it’s an easy answer: You can actually use both of them.

Among seems to be more appropriate and popular in modern writing. Indeed, when reading news articles, among appears more commonly.

On the other hand, you can use amongst when writing fiction like fairy tales.  It’s a bit old-fashioned. And thus suits the context and style of fictional stories that tend to be set in the past.

The STAR Team