Author: Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show. Her popular LinkedIn Learning courses help people write better to communicate better.


Nowadays, “people” is almost always the right choice when you are talking about more than one person. Some dictionaries don’t even include “persons” as the plural of “person” anymore, and the few dictionaries that do include “persons” note that it is uncommon, archaic, or going out of style. Traditionally, “people” was proper when referring to a mass of people (e.g., Squiggly couldn’t believe how many people were at the wrestling match), and “persons” was proper when referring to a distinct number of individuals (e.g., Squiggly noted that eight persons showed up for the book club meeting). Get more tips…

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Believe it or not, in the 1800s and early 1900s, many people objected to the use of “people” as I just used it. You weren’t supposed to write about “many people,” or “100 people” or so on. “Many persons” and “100 persons” was the right way to say it. Or at least there was a big debate at the time, with many people (persons?) arguing that “persons” was better, even though people had been using “people” all the way back in Chaucer’s time. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage doesn’t record any reason for the debate; people just argued and debated…

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I always get a lot of questions about hyphens when I do my AP style webinars, and it’s not surprising because hyphens can be confusing. When does ‘thank-you’ need a hyphen? When “thank” is a verb, you don’t need a hyphen We thank you for inviting us to your holiday Zoom party. Thank you for the gift. But when “thank you” is a modifier or a noun, then it takes a hyphen. I wrote a thank-you note. For example, in “I still need to write a thank-you note,” you use a hyphen in “thank-you” because it’s modifying the noun “note.”…

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Brandon Sanderson is a #1 New York Times bestselling fantasy author with more than 30 books, which have been published in 35 languages. In this interview, we talked about his Newest book, Rhythm of War. Co-hosting of the Writing Excuses podcast. BYU writing class. Book tours. Livestreaming. Views on the interrobang (more than you may imagine!). Process for naming characters and places in his novels (funny stories about names gone wrong!). Special considerations for audiobooks. Orwellian approach to writing and prose, in particular. Struggles with “lay” and “lie” and double words such as “had had.” Plans for the future. You can…

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One of the most frequent questions I’m asked is whether it’s acceptable to end a sentence with a preposition. I know many of you were taught that you shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition, but that’s a myth. In fact, I consider it one of the top ten grammar myths because so many people believe it’s true, but nearly all grammarians disagree, at least in some cases (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8). So before I lose you, let’s back up. What is a preposition? What Is a Preposition? A preposition is a word that creates a relationship between…

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A listener named Barbara wrote in wondering about the phrase “how come.” She wrote: The other day I was formulating a question for a Google search in my mind and started out with the phrase “How come….” I then quickly realized that I should probably use the word “Why” instead. Then I noted to myself that my natural tendency was to say “How come…” instead of “Why…” and this made me wonder how common that is. Is it a regional kind of thing, where people in certain parts of the world would tend to say one more than the other?…

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THE QUICK AND DIRTY The official name is “Veterans Day,” but “Veterans’ Day” is also grammatically correct. In the United States, we’re celebrating Veterans Day next week. It’s a holiday commemorating the end of World War I in 1918, but the name of the holiday brings up a common question: Do we need an apostrophe in the word “Veterans”? The short answer is no, because the U.S. government gave the holiday its official name, and they chose to write it without the apostrophe; but today, we’ll explore why it’s grammatically correct with or without an apostrophe. 3 ways to write…

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Today’s topic is “although” versus “while.” I often have to tell people that their pet peeves aren’t actually hard-and-fast grammar rules. I have to tell people that it’s OK to split infinitives, and that in some cases it’s fine to end a sentence with a preposition or use the word “between” when they’re choosing among more than two items. I know it’s upsetting to learn that your nearest and dearest beliefs are wrong, so this week, I’m going to talk about my own mistaken peeve. It bugs me no end when people use “while” to mean “although” or “whereas,” but…

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“Whoa” can mean “stop,” like in this Keanu Reeves clip from “Sweet November,” or it can mean “wow,” like he often said in “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.” It’s supposed to be spelled W-H-O-A, but I keep seeing it spelled W-O-A-H and hearing complaints from other people who see it spelled that way. The Origin of ‘Whoa’ Here’s a way to remember the proper spelling: “Who” and “ho” are two origins that are often cited for “whoa.” For example, Dictionary.com states that “ho” came first as a Middle English command to make a horse stop and then evolved sometime around 1620 into “whoa.” To remember how to spell “whoa,” remember that…

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In July 2015, a listener named Barb Mindel posted a question on my Facebook page. She wrote, “I have recently heard a couple of my friends from the northeastern states use the term ‘out of pocket’ to refer to the fact that they were unavailable. What is the origin of this idiom?” I responded right away, saying that I’d put it on our list of things to cover. Well, Barb, it’s been a few years, but here, at last, is that episode on “out of pocket”! ‘Out of pocket’ is out of range After I wrote my short response, a…

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