Monday, December 11, 2017

Sorry for the Late Reply: How to Apologize for a Delayed Response

You don’t always respond to emails right away. In fact, sometimes you put them off until the next day, the next week, or—downcast gaze—the next month. At some point the calculus shifts from “Can I somehow compose an email that justifies my glacially slow response-time?” to “Would it be easier to just fake my death instead?”

While it doesn’t look or feel great, sometimes you have to own up to sleeping on someone’s message. Maybe it’s a professional contact you can’t afford to leave feeling forgotten, or a simple case of procrastination that’s gradually snowballed into full-on dread. Whatever the cause, we have some ideas for ways to break the silence and apologize for a late reply.

Does a slow response invariably require you to be sorry?

If you work in a fast-breaking, deadline-driven profession, you routinely email people back instantly. But that’s not always a realistic expectation, particularly when what’s at stake is the opposite of urgent. Being human doesn’t always necessitate an apology.

Say you get an email along the lines of “Hey friendly contact, could we meet up for coffee next week and free-associate about our industry?” While connections like this can be valuable, they probably won’t wither if you take a couple decadently unhurried days to respond.

In such cases, charitably assume these people get it. Skip past “sorry for the late reply” and cut straight to what matters: “Sounds good, and thanks for reaching out—How’s Thursday?”

Make clear that you do, in fact, care about responding late.

Not everything that lands in your inbox requires a reply, like, ever. Seriously. Sometimes though, even if it’s not essential, a laggy response is better than none at all.

Take the example of a former client or colleague who saw your new job title and took a few seconds to dash off a kind congratulatory note. If you didn’t respond at the very moment that email arrived, it’s nothing to feel guilty over. But if you never follow up, you might end up kicking yourself months later, whenever you need to refer a contact to them, or have a favor to ask. Try something like this:

Thank you so much for your thoughtful note last month! Also, my apologies for the slow reply; transitioning into this new role has been a little overwhelming, but I’m excited.

By the way, I recall you mentioning plans to launch a new campaign in the next few months—How’s that going? I’d love to hear more about it next time we get a chance to catch up…

That last part intentionally turns the interest back toward the person who wrote to you, since they took the time send their congratulations. After all, you don’t want your message back to read as wholly self-involved and oblivious, right?

Better late than never, we hope?

All right, so someone asked you for something. They needed some documents, or help finding a particular contact, and—argh—you dropped the ball. It happens. Freshen up your karma by showing this person that’s not what you’re about; acknowledge it and look for ways to be helpful. Like so:

Sorry for the delayed response. It took some time to find the reports you requested to compare against last year’s data, and your message got lost in the shuffle for a few days. I’m now attaching both documents as PDFs. Also, our marketing director has been on the road, but if you like, I can schedule a conversation with him after he gets back tomorrow.

Please let me know if that works, or if there’s anything else I can do to be helpful going forward.

Again, you’re owning the delay up front and getting the apology out of the way, then establishing that “indifferent relaxer” is not your default mode at work.

It’s no fun to be the bearer of bad news, and worse still to do it slowly.

Occasionally, you may have to tell someone they didn’t get the job, or that you’ve decided not to move forward on the project they proposed. Once you’re sure this is the case, if you can help it, don’t leave them in torturous suspense for weeks on end.

That said, if you’re past the ounce-of-prevention stage and are now shopping instead for a pound of cure, here’s a rough idea of how to get it over with:

My sincere apologies for the slow reply; I’d hoped to get back to you sooner. We very much enjoyed having you here for the job interview, as well as our conversation over lunch, but have decided to move forward with another candidate.

Given your extensive credentials and sterling reputation, we’d love to keep you in mind for other positions that might open up in the future. I’d also be happy to refer you to others in the industry who might be hiring. Let me know if I can put you in touch.

As ever, there’s not much use in belaboring how overdue your response is—own it, get to the point, and look for ways to make the recipient feel like they matter.

If all else fails, mark April 30th on your calendar

In recent years, April 30th has become something like a holiday for chronic email procrastinators. Best known as “Email Debt Forgiveness Day,” it’s an annual free pass to finally send all those messages you’ve put off for way too long, without worrying about whether you seem rude or have a decent excuse.

Then again, why wait until the end of April? Close out a few of those email obligations now, and you might feel better that much sooner.

The post Sorry for the Late Reply: How to Apologize for a Delayed Response appeared first on Grammarly Blog.

from Grammarly Blog

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Lesson 321 - Mechanics - Capitalization

Capitalize the titles of books, newspapers, magazines, and all other kinds of literary works. Capitalize works of art, motion pictures, and musical compositions. Do not capitalize the articles (a, an, the), prepositions, or conjunctions unless they come first or last in these titles. Example: Death of a Salesman, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Instructions: Capitalize each word that needs a capital letter.

1. My favorite book is a tale of two cities.

2. Have you ever heard the song "earth angel"?

3. Jeff's theme was entitled "among the stars."

4. We take two newspapers new utah and the deseret news.

5. national geographic and reader's digest are both interesting magazines.

--For answers scroll down.


1. A Tale of Two Cities

2. "Earth Angel"

3. "Among the Stars"

4. New Utah/Deseret News

5. National Geographic/Reader's Digest

For your convenience, all of our lessons are available on our website in our lesson archive at Our lessons are also available to purchase in an eBook and a Workbook format.
from Daily Grammar Lessons Blog

Friday, December 8, 2017

10 Grammarly Blog Posts from 2017 That You Need to See

There’s a lot of writing on the Internet, our blog included.

For the past 12 months, we’ve offered writing tips, advice for job- and promotion-seeking members of the workforce, quizzes to test your lust for language, and much, much more.

Out of the hundreds of posts authored on this here blog, we’ve picked out ten of our staff’s favorite posts. They represent the breadth of content you can find on our blog and our in our weekly newsletter. They also show the value of mistake-free writing and the value Grammarly can provide however you’re looking to improve your writing and communication skills.

And now, (drumroll please), let’s take a look at ten posts we hope you didn’t miss. And if you did, it’s OK, we forgive you, but you should check them out now because it’s December and this is a great time to recap the year.

1 Bear With Me or Bare With Me?

Worth your time because … There are so many confusing phrases in our English language. If it’s not whom or who, or even affect vs. effect, we can all stand to know the absolute difference between these common phrases that are constantly confused. Our “Grammar Tips” section also you covered for any grammar deep-dive you feel like taking during the holidays.

Text to remember … “Here’s an easy way to differentiate bear from bare. You learned that bear as a verb means “to endure.” In its noun form, bear refers to a large furry animal. Combining these two definitions into a silly sentence will help you remember that the correct phrase is “bear with me,” not “bare with me.” A patient bear will always bear with you, but an impatient bear just might devour you!”

2 5 Other Ways to Write “I Hope You Are Doing Well” in Your Email

Worth your time because … We all write emails. Lots of them. Raise your hand if you’re guilty of using a throwaway line like “I hope you are doing well” to introduce your email. Yup, my hand is up, too. We don’t have to live this way anymore. Our blog offers valuable thoughts on how to diversify your standard email icebreaker.

Text to remember … “Anyone who gets a lot of email is familiar with the stock “I hope you are doing well.” It’s the business email equivalent of small talk that begins with “How are you?” We all know that etiquette requires us to answer with “I’m fine. How are you?” Although this back-and-forth exchange is a rather meaningless part of face-to-face conversation, it’s become socially mandated. In email, however, “hope you’re well” comes across as extraneous at best and insincere at worst.”

3 10 Things You Should Avoid Saying in a Job Interview

Worth your time because … Landing a job interview is an accomplishment. Be proud! But also, you should know that it’s easy to ruin your candidacy with a flippant comment. Our “Workplace” posts provide quality advice on how to approach all angles of the job-search process, including things to avoid saying at your next job interview.

Text to remember … “Could the things you’re saying during job interviews be costing you offers? Knowing the right things to say requires practice and a little finesse. But accidentally saying the wrong thing is all too easy to do. Interviews are stressful, and it can be challenging to keep a cool head when your palms are sweating and your heart is beating double-time.”

4 11 Tips to Clean Up Your Dirty, Wordy Writing

Worth your time because … Brevity is your friend in writing. Don’t waste time getting to a very very important point with some kind of worthless phrases and words that like seemingly delay your reader from really and truly understanding the point you’re trying to make. Wasteful words can appear in anyone’s document or text. This post aims to rid the world of a few added phrases.

Text to remember … “Weasel words are qualifiers that make you sound unsure of yourself, like you’re trying to create wiggle room. Don’t get us wrong: in some cases, you need these words. But if you want to convey an idea or make an argument, remove words that make your readers think of slimy politicians trying to avoid stating something directly. Maybe it can make a difference. No, really: it makes a difference.”

5 How Game of Thrones Characters Would Approach a Writing Assignment

Worth your time because … You don’t have to be a GoT fan to enjoy lifestyle-inspired writing tips. Well, in this case, you have to know a few things about the famous HBO show to get the gist of what we’re getting at. Even so, making connections between famous authors and significant moments in pop culture happens often on our blog.

Text to remember … “Jon Snow begins his journey as an underappreciated bastard of House Stark and hesitatingly rises to lead the Night’s Watch. Eventually, he is elected Lord of Winterfell. Jon Snow, guided by a sense of duty and loyalty to his team rather than by ambition, seeks counsel and consensus almost to a fault. This tendency to rely on his support network and the wisdom of his council helps him to lead well, however. This is exemplified in both his election as Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch and Lord of Winterfell, when supporters speak on his behalf. Improve your writing the same way by regularly seeking feedback from respected peers.”

6 How to Improve Writing Skills in 15 Easy Steps

Worth your time because … Many of our readers visit the G blog for grammar tips, career advice, and—what else?—actionable tips on how to become a better writer. This post features fifteen ways to vastly improve your skills every time you put pen to paper or fingertips to keyboard.

Text to remember … “Becoming a better writer takes practice, and you’re already practicing. No, seriously—you write a lot. Even if you don’t think of yourself as a writer, you put thoughts into text more often than you realize. At the very least, you write emails—a lot of emails—post on social media, make updates to your résumé and LinkedIn profile, and message your friends. If your job requires it, you also create things like reports, presentations, newsletters . . . it’s a long list.”

7 Why Mistake-free Writing on Your Phone Is So Valuable

Worth your time because … You might be reading this blog on your phone right now. If you’re not, you have surely read something and written something very important on your mobile device at one time or another. So improve your writing on the go with this post. Now you know.

Text to remember … “Remember when phones were used exclusively for making phone calls? (Hard to believe, right?) Now we use our smartphones for all sorts of fun things . . . like sending text messages, answering emails, posting on Facebook, commenting on our favorite cat videos, and even finding true love. While the freedom and flexibility of using a mobile device is awesome—the frustration that comes from typing on a tiny touch screen is not so great.”

8 5 Basic Proofreading Habits for a More Productive 2017

Worth your time because … Re-writing is writing. The same goes for editing or proofreading. However you want to call it, the truth is that behind every great piece of writing is someone with a keen eye for details. Sharpen your skills with these five, dare we say, basic, proofin’ tips.

Text to remember … “If you can, walk away and do something else for a little while. Then come back and read it again. The more time that passes between writing and proofreading, the better you’ll be at spotting mistakes your brain skipped over the first time through.”

9 “Do You Write Like an Introvert?” Quiz

Worth your time because … Grammarly’s quizzes can test your knowledge in a number of capacities. Are your grammar skills legit? Can you interview like a pro? Or in this case, do you write like an introvert or extrovert? There’s only one way to know. Test yourself.

Text to remember … “Have you ever wondered how introverted or extroverted your work style is? This short quiz will help you understand whether your writing personality tends toward introversion or extroversion.”

10 We Studied 750 Top LinkedIn Profiles. Here’s How to Write Yours Better.

Worth your time because … LinkedIn profiles are quite common these days. Knowing how to create a strong presence on LI will do wonders for your networking and job pursuits. We gained a ton of amazing insights from analyzing 750 profiles from Fortune 500 companies.

Text to remember … “Filling out your profile summary matters, but only 42 percent of the entry-level employees we analyzed seemed to bother. Managers and directors both did so a bit more often—closer to half in our study. We suspect people overlook the profile summary because they’re often busy describing their work experience further down their profile—or waiting until they’re actually looking for a new job to make a proper introduction atop their page. In fact, regardless of their experience level, people proved more likely to fill out the work experience section. Especially among managers, 65 percent did so, cranking out a robust 192 words on average for each job they described.”

Did we miss your favorite blog post of the year? Let us know why you loved it in the comments section of this post. Thanks for reading!

The post 10 Grammarly Blog Posts from 2017 That You Need to See appeared first on Grammarly Blog.

from Grammarly Blog

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Why Is the Oxford Comma a Heated Debate in 2017?

If you stare awhile at the string of characters that a sentence comprises, the squiggles lose all meaning. That humans somehow manage to agree on the use of these symbols well enough to communicate at all can seem miraculous.

But what about when we don’t quite agree—when it seems a writer has added a superfluous, bafflingly out-of-place comma, perhaps, or inexplicably used the wrong pronoun? Maybe they’re simply mistaken. Or maybe they’re in the vanguard of a futuristic linguistic trend that, decades or centuries hence, will be widely embraced and regarded as correct.

Our language is forever evolving, and 2017 was no exception. Two key authorities on proper usage—the Associated Press Stylebook and the Chicago Manual of Style—both made modernizing tweaks in their latest updates.

Examined closely, these offer glimpses into the past and future: “Often people think of language shifting over centuries,” says Grammarly copy editor Brittney Ross, “but some of these happened pretty quickly.”

We’ll give a rundown of a few of the recent changes that felt consequential, and then delve into one particularly contentious stylistic faultline we’re still watching—the Oxford comma.

Both style guides are through with capitalizing “internet” and “web.”

Associated Press editors made this move last year, and the Chicago Manual has now followed suit. Not to make anyone feel old, but if you remember the sound of a dial-up modem, you’ve witnessed the arc of these terms trending from exotic to mundane. Same goes for this one:

It’s now email, not e-mail.

Chicago Style lagged a few years after the AP made this shift, but it’s now unanimous—no hyphen required. Similarly:

AP Style now has an entry for esports.

The e is not a typo; we’re talking about competitive multiplayer video games. One could argue that 2017, the year of Starcraft: Remastered, approximates a 20-year anniversary for esports, which have now become commonplace—and so lucrative that popular streamers on Twitch have their own agents.

AP editors also added an entry for autonomous vehicles.

It will likely be years before you get a chance to ride in a self-driving car, but in the meantime, journalists can’t stop thinking about them. (Guilty.) Just don’t call them driverless unless there truly isn’t a human onboard who can take the wheel.

They can now be singular—sometimes.

AP and Chicago Style editors both cracked this door open in 2017, but neither yet seems ready to charge fully through it, prompting the Columbia Journalism Review to declare “it’s the middle of the end for the insistence that ‘they’ can be only a plural pronoun.”

The style guides allow for a singular they when referring to someone who doesn’t identify as he or she, but they also note you can often just write your way around this by reworking the sentence. Here are highlights from the new AP entry:

They, them, their — In most cases, a plural pronoun should agree in number with the antecedent: The children love the books their uncle gave them. They/them/their is acceptable in limited cases as a singular and-or gender-neutral pronoun, when alternative wording is overly awkward or clumsy. However, rewording usually is possible and always is preferable…

In stories about people who identify as neither male nor female or ask not to be referred to as he/she/him/her: Use the person’s name in place of a pronoun, or otherwise reword the sentence, whenever possible. If they/them/their use is essential, explain in the text that the person prefers a gender-neutral pronoun.

Whether this shift heralds the widespread adoption of what’s known as the “epicene they,” we’ll have to wait a few more editions and see.

Whither the Oxford comma?

No discussion of warring (okay, not really) stylebooks would be complete without considering the Oxford (or serial) comma. For the uninitiated, that’s the last comma in a list of three or more things, as in this example:

“My goals for 2018 are to learn how to use commas like a champion, to run a half-marathon, and to get good at poaching eggs.”

Whether that last comma is necessary is hotly debated. It featured in a 2008 lyric by the band Vampire Weekend that might be politely paraphrased as “Who gives a hoot about the Oxford comma?” And this year a single Oxford comma was even the subject of a court fight with millions of dollars at stake.

Chicago style recommends its use in almost all instances, while AP style leans somewhat against it. The AP’s position is squishy, though, as it recently noted in a series of tweets that began “We don’t ban Oxford commas!” Rather, they say you should use it when it adds clarity and ditch it when it’s nonessential.

As AP Stylebook lead editor Paula Froke told a roomful of colleagues this spring, “The stylebook doesn’t ban the use of a serial comma. Whether you put it in at all times is a different debate.” That’s hardly a hard-and-fast declaration, but the Oxford comma is divisive, as anyone who’s served as a copy editor at a student newspaper can attest. Brittney, Grammarly’s resident style maven, puts it this way:

“Oxford commas are like the Ugg boots of the punctuation world. People either love them or hate them or don’t know what they are.”

Brittney notes that Grammarly is pro-Oxford comma, in part because many long-timers (“the OG Grammarly users”) have voiced fondness for it. “It’s really carried over into our blog, social media, emails,” even in settings where AP style might be more typical: “We’ve kept the Oxford comma just to keep things consistent.”

And consistency, alongside clarity, she says, should be more important than pitting one stylistic tribe’s abstract symbols against another.

“When it comes to AP vs. Chicago style, I think a lot of people forget the importance of the word style. The important thing to remember is when the style isn’t working for you, you should do what works.”

The post Why Is the Oxford Comma a Heated Debate in 2017? appeared first on Grammarly Blog.

from Grammarly Blog

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

What Were the Most Common Email Mistakes of 2017?

How’s your email game? Are people happy to correspond with you, or are they leaving you hanging?

The quality of your email communication can significantly impact how you’re perceived by others (especially in business). And though we all do our best to write like a boss, grammatical errors still creep in.

Fortunately we can learn from our own (and others’) mistakes. So as the year wraps up, let’s take a moment to reflect on the fifteen most common email mistakes made by Grammarly users in 2017 and find out what we can all do to step up our email game in 2018.

1Misspelled Words

Sometimes we make spelling mistakes because it’s difficult to type on tiny touchscreen keyboards. Other times we’re just not sure how a word is spelled.

Either way, misspelled words were by far the most common email error in 2017. Good thing Grammarly’s here to catch these pesky errors in your browser and on your iPhone.

2Repeated Words

The runner up for most common error? Repeated words.

I love watching movies, but going to the movie theater is very expensive. When I want to see a movie, I usually just rent one.

Things can get tedious when you use the same words over and over and over. . . Energize your writing by employing synonyms instead of the same word repeatedly.

Struggling to think of an alternative word? Do a quick thesaurus search for inspiration!

3Vague Words

No one enjoys a bland meal—or bland writing. Spice up your writing by avoiding bland, nonspecific words like:

  • Good
  • Nice
  • Awesome
  • Greatly

Even a simple change such as “We had a lovely meal” instead of “We had a nice meal” can make a big difference.

Use these nine easy tips to improve bland writing.

4Misspelled Names

Misspelling a place name can be embarrassing (it’s “Albuquerque” not “Albaquerque”).

Misspelling the name of a hiring manager or potential client can be horrifying (it’s “Kathryn” not “Katharine,” but you didn’t care enough to figure that out).

Always do your due diligence to make sure you have the correct spelling. And, just in case, here’s how to salvage your credibility after misspelling someone’s name.

5Not Capitalizing the First Word in a Sentence

We’ve grown so used to the informality of texting that it can be easy to forget most emails (especially for work communication) still require proper capitalization and punctuation.

You can grab a quick refresher on capitalization rules here.

6Passive Voice

In most situations, using the active voice in lieu of the passive voice will bring greater energy and clarity to your writing.

. . . But occasionally the passive voice is the more appropriate choice.

Not sure how to identify the passive voice or when it’s okay to use? Here’s everything you need to know about using the passive voice correctly.

7Missing Comma Before a Conjunction

Some of us overuse commas, and some don’t use them enough. Commas can greatly affect the meaning of a sentence, so mastering their use is a worthwhile skill.

Here’s a refresher on common rules of usage and how to use commas in complex sentences.

8Sentence Ends Without Punctuation

While a period (full stop) used in a text message can imply anger or harshness, this is not the case with email.

Keep your credibility (and make your meaning clear) by punctuating the end of your sentences. Period.

9Proper Noun Not Capitalized

Knowing which words to capitalize can be confusing! I’ve been a copywriter for several years and I still double check capitalization rules. Get clear on proper nouns and how to use them with this quick guide.

10Empty Phrase

Are your sentences full of hot air?

Phrases like “as a matter of fact,” “in a manner of speaking,” “clearly,” and “generally” may seem polished, but they’re unnecessary and end up cluttering your writing.

Streamline your writing by cutting out these thirty-one words and phrases you no longer need.

11Numerals Instead of Words

Did you know it’s not always appropriate to use a numeral (1, 15, 5,000)? Sometimes the correct route is to spell a number out (one, fifteen, five thousand).

Here’s a quick guide for when to spell numbers and when to use numerals.

12Unclear Antecedent

Sansa and her sister Arya often fought as children, which was difficult for her.

In the example sentence it’s unclear which sister found their quarrels difficult. Keep your writing crystal clear by clarifying which antecedent (Sansa or Arya) the pronoun (her) refers to.

Want to learn more? Check out the basics of antecedents here.

13Comma Splice

She forgot to use a conjunction, the sentence was incorrect.

A comma splice occurs when you join two independent clauses with a comma and no conjunction.

Here are some examples of common comma splices to watch out for, plus how to fix them.

14Missing Comma After Introductory Clause

As Joanna reviewed her Weekly Writing Update she realized her lack of comma use.

Unfortunately, this is often the top error listed in my Grammarly Writing Update each week. Don’t make the same mistakes as me. Learn how to properly use commas with introductory clauses.


Is verbosity hurting your writing? Overly long sentences may confuse and bore your audience.

You can improve readability and clarity by streamlining your writing or breaking your mondo sentences into multiple sentences.

Check out these great tips for cleaning up your dirty writing, getting to the point in everything you write, and purging unnecessary words from your emails.

Further Reading

Dig into these articles and become an email master:

What will you do to uplevel your email communication in 2018?

The post What Were the Most Common Email Mistakes of 2017? appeared first on Grammarly Blog.

from Grammarly Blog

Monday, December 4, 2017

What Was the Best New Word Added to the Dictionary in 2017?

Thanks to the fine folks at Merriam-Webster, our dictionaries continue to get heavier and even more robust than they were twelve months ago.

As language evolves and new words continue to flood our lexicon, it’s good to have more ammunition for any conversation or correspondence you encounter. When new phrases from popular culture get cosigned and introduced into our language, it’s important to recognize the terms that make you stop and think and appreciate our evolving forms of communication.

Both in verbal conversation and in written communication, Grammarly loves to recognize wordplay of all sorts. So with that in mind, let’s look at eight great English words that were added to the record books, or in this case, books of record, in 2017.

Take a look at the new words that achieved dictionary-status and inspired us to diversify our style. Vote for your favorites below and use the comments section to let us know what new words and phrases made waves where you live!

1 Ghost


What it means: To abruptly cut off all contact with (someone, such as a former romantic partner) by no longer accepting or responding to phone calls, instant messages, etc.

2 Word salad


What it means: A string of empty, incoherent, unintelligible, or nonsensical words or comments.

3 Froyo


What it means: A term used to describe frozen yogurt. Often used before another noun—a froyo shop, froyo flavors.

4 Weak sauce


What it means: Something inferior, ineffective, or unimpressive: something weak.

5 Photobomb


What it means: To move into the frame of a photograph as it is being taken as a joke or prank.

6 Throw shade


What it means: To express contempt or disrespect for someone publicly, especially by subtle or indirect insults or criticisms.

7 Listicle


What it means: An article consisting of a series of items presented as a list.

8 Facepalm


What it means: To cover one’s face with the hand as an expression of embarrassment, dismay, or exasperation.

The post What Was the Best New Word Added to the Dictionary in 2017? appeared first on Grammarly Blog.

from Grammarly Blog