What Is a Proper Noun?

When reading novels or short stories, you would undoubtedly encounter words which are capitalized in the middle of the sentences. Surely these words would stand out because they would mean something different from the rest of the words. In English, we call these terms as proper nouns. On this article, we are going to discuss what a proper noun is and how it differs from a common noun. In addition to this, we are also going to identify several rules for capitalizing proper nouns.

What is a Proper Noun?

Before we dig in further, let’s first have a quick review of what a noun is. Generally speaking, a noun is a word that is used to determine people, places, or things. It could refer to anything you see, feel, taste, touch, and hear. From the pillows on your bed to the persons you meet every day, the name which you call these things are called nouns.

Now, nouns could be divided into two. One would be a broader term while the other is more definite. A proper noun would refer to a definite name for a specific person, place, object, or an event. This means that that the noun is not generic at all. Because if the noun is already general in nature, it would already be called as a common noun.

We can categorize every noun as common or proper. If we are going to look at the examples below, we can clearly see the distinction between these two kinds of nouns. A proper noun is precise while a common noun is just broad.

Common NounProper Noun
boyGary Wendell John
countryUnited States of America United Arab Emirates Philippines
filmPerks of Being a Wallflower In the Mood for Love Pulp Fiction
cityNew York City London Tokyo
religionChristianity Islam Judaism

If we look at our examples above, we could easily identify the difference between a common noun and a proper noun. This is where the two unique characteristics of a proper noun come in. A proper noun always begins with a capital letter. On the other hand, a common noun begins with a small letter, except when it could be found at the beginning of the sentence. Let’s take a look at the examples. The common noun is the boy, which is in small letter. Its proper noun counterparts are Gary, Wendell, and John. All of these are in capital letters.

The other distinguishing characteristic of a proper noun is that it names specific items. As mentioned above, a proper name is more specific than the common noun. The term, “country,” is generic. When we become more specific with these countries, we could come up with proper nouns such as the United States of America, United Arab Emirates, and the Philippines.

Let us analyze the concepts in the third row. We could see that the term, “film,” starts with a small letter. It is a more general term. The terms in the second column begin with a capital letter. They are more specific counterparts of the common noun. These would include, “Perks of Being a Wallflower,” “In the Mood for Love,” and “Pulp Fiction.”

You could further identify the difference between common nouns and proper nouns by analyzing the fourth and fifth examples.

Rules for Capitalizing Proper Nouns

To ensure proper grammar, you always have to abide by specific rules. While it is true that it is easy to use proper nouns, there are always certain things that you have to consider. Here are just some rules for capitalizing proper nouns.

1. Capitalize First Names

Always capitalize first names. Whether it be your best friend or your worst enemy, their names should always be capitalized. This holds true since all names are proper nouns.

Example: Please take Bonnie, my boss, to the lounge where she will rest for a while.

Note that the name was capitalized while her position – boss – is in small letters.

2. Do Not Capitalize All Letters in a Sentence

Remember, do not capitalize all letters in a formal sentence, especially when they are not proper nouns. By doing so, you could only make reading more difficult if you do so.

Example 1: Please Get the Louis Vuitton Bag Of Dorothy.

Example 2: Please get the Louis Vuitton bag of Dorothy.

The first example seemingly provides emphasis to the sentence, but it is grammatically incorrect. Only capitalize the words which are proper, such as Louis Vuitton and Dorothy.

There are some instances where you could capitalize on the important words in a sentence, but only for titles or subheads. If you take a look at the subheadings of this article, you would be able to see.

3. Capitalizing Names of Books, Films, or Song Titles

If you are describing proper names of book, film, or song titles, do not capitalize everything. Only capitalize the words which are relevant.

Example 1: Me and You and Everyone We Know

Example 2: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Example 3: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

We take these words as one when we consider them as titles. Hence, we categorize them as proper nouns. Important words are capitalized, especially if they have a bearing to the story. However, the conjunctions and articles should be in small letters.

4. Capitalizing Family Endearments

When dealing with families, there are rules that you should follow also. If you use the endearment directly, you use it as a proper noun. But if you are not using the endearment as a name, it should not be capitalized.

Example 1: Go fetch Dad his glass of water.

Example 2: Please call your dad to come tomorrow.

On the first example, the speaker could be related to the noun. Hence, it is capitalized. However, the second sentence is only used as an object so it should not be capitalized.

5. Capitalizing Directions

Directions should not be used as a proper noun unless they are a part of a place.

Example 1: Let’s go north and see if the missing dog is there.

Example 2: Have you ever visited North Carolina?

Conclusion

Now you know the rules for capitalizing proper nouns. If you want further help with capitalization, try out our free title capitalization tool.

Top 5 Free Writing Tools for 2019

Writing is a time consuming creative process to begin with, so why waste more of that time with formatting, planning, etc. Here are five free writing tools which many writers find invaluable.

1. Grammarly – Grammar Checker

grammarly

Grammarly is the best all-around grammar and format checker there is. It checks over 250 different points about your grammar, including style, spelling, punctuation, grammar, and sentence structure. It even has plagiarism detection!

They have a free Chrome extension that gives you feedback real-time, but you can also pay to use their web-interface and use their full functionality including over 400 grammar checks.

To learn more about the benefits of Grammarly, read our Grammarly review here.

 

2. Trello – Planning Made Simple

Trello is an awesome tool for managing both your writing and your team’s. It allows you to easily create categories (I normally use classic Kanban style “To Do,” “Doing,” “Done”), create tasks in each of those categories, then assign or color code those tasks. Moving the task cards is as simple as clicking on one and dragging.

Trello is 100% free unless you want some advanced features such as integrations with external apps, larger file attachments, etc. Give it a try!

trello writing board

3. Google Docs

You probably already use Google Docs and Sheets, but they are definitely worth mentioning. Google Docs has almost the exact same features as Microsoft Word, is cloud based, and can be edited real-time by anyone on your team. Google Docs makes requesting feedback on your work super simple. Instead of emailing a Word doc back and forth, just share the link with your proofreader and they immediately have access to comment on your work.

If you aren’t already using Google Docs, give it a shot. You may end up ditching your old word processing software.

 

4. Evernote – Notetaking. Anywhere.

Evernote is the best cloud-hosted note-taking app there is. You can store most forms of media within it including images, documents, notes, annotations. Everything is synced instantly so you can go from working on your computer to mobile device depending on the setting you’re in. They allow basic organization features including 2-level stacked notebooks (category and sub-category) as well as tags. Their search features are also cutting edge, making it super easy to find anything you’re looking for.

Evernote is free unless you need advanced annotation features or intend to upload more than 60Mb of content every month.

5. Unstuck App – Never Get Stuck Again

wpid-photo-may-17-2012-1152-pm1[1]Everyone gets writer’s block at sometime or another. Usually, it’s at the worst possible time. The Unstuck App seeks to remedy this by providing a toolkit and set of prompting questions that seek to get your creative juices flowing.

Grammarly vs. Ginger vs. Whitesmoke Review 2019

If you want to consistently create an article or an essay that is free from grammatical errors and blunders, you might want to consider using competent grammar check software. These programs have transformed the way people write essays. But with a large number of products on the market, how do you know which program is the best software for you? In this article, we will examine three grammar check programs and see which one seems to be the best value. While the final decision will, of course, be ultimately up to you, we hope this guide will give you some insight and advice, allowing you to pick the best program for your needs.

Before going any further, you should be aware that none of these programs will be one-hundred percent accurate. While they will catch a large number of blunders, there are still limitations to these automated proofreaders. So even if you have checked them using one of these three programs, it would always be better to also check them manually.

Grammarly

One of Grammarly’s primary features is its multi-faceted ability to check sentences in terms of grammar, conciseness, spelling, clarity, and idiomatic expressions. Grammarly also provides suggestions for strengthening your writing, as well as synonyms and definitions of words. Lastly, it offers an explanation of the grammatical rules involved, allowing you the opportunity to learn from your mistakes and become a better writer.

In addition to this, it features a plagiarism checker. This feature, once activated, scans the document and highlights any suspicious passages that may have come directly from other sources. This is an extremely useful tool for teachers and educators who need to check a student’s work.

This application also allows you to set your goals for your article. You can, for example, choose your intent – whether you want to inform, convince, describe, or tell a story. You can select a wide variety of other parameters, as well, such as audience, style, emotion, and your domain. The more that Grammarly knows about the context of your article, the more customized its suggestions are.

If you are quite unsure of the way Grammarly checked your document, the program has another option for you. You can send your work to a human proofreader. For an extra fee, human proofreaders will check your content more precisely, and have it back to you anywhere from thirty minutes to twenty-four hours, depending on the level of service you choose.

When it comes to pricing, Grammarly has two levels: Grammarly and Grammarly Premium. The first is a free version, however, it only has limited functions. This version is great if you are on a tight budget. Because it can be installed as a plugin on your browser, this app can check for errors present in your emails, social media posts, and anything else you may happen to type. However, as mentioned, this version is limited. It can handle the large-scheme grammar errors and spelling mistakes, but if you want the grammar rules, vocabulary building, and plagiarism detector, you’ll need to upgrade to their Premium product.  This is available in one of three ways: a monthly subscription at $29.95 a month, quarterly subscription at $19.98 a month, and an annual subscription of $11.66 a month.

You can read more about Grammarly in our review.

Pros:

– Due to its clean user interface, it is easy to use.
– It recommends ways to improve your grammar and vocabulary.
– It offers plagiarism detector and human proofreader.
– It provides an accurate way of checking for grammar blunders.

 

Cons:

– You need the internet to use it.
– To gain the full features, you could pay as much as $359 a year.

Ginger

Ginger is one of the oldest grammar check programs still on the market today. Because it has been around for some time (since 2007), Ginger has gained a loyal following through the years. Its features, accuracy, and price make it a still-popular grammar software.

Like Grammarly, Ginger utilizes a contextual spelling checker. Ginger, can spot words that may have been spelled correctly, but they are written in the wrong context. For example, affect and effect, lose and loose, and lie and lay, among others.

Another feature of Ginger is its vocabulary enhancement capability. This feature improves your active vocabulary by suggesting alternative, more sophisticated words.

Its “sentence rephraser” capability is another tool that may come in handy. It provides suggestions for writing sentences in different ways.  This is helpful if you have trouble using  English idioms correctly.

Other ”useful characteristics that are worth mentioning include a translator, a text reader, and a trainer. The personal trainer function, in particular, keeps track of your literary mistakes. Then, it teaches you how to overcome or avoid them so you do not do them again in the future. The text reader tool reads the text back to you, something that is useful for checking the flow of the document, or the pronunciation of difficult-to-pronounce words. Finally, the translator tool is designed to accurately translate your document to over 40 languages.

Like Grammarly, Ginger comes in both free and premium versions. The free version is ideal for those who write casually. However, the other features, such as the text reader, sentence rephraser, and error analysis are not available on the free version. The premium version, on the other hand, lets you experience the full beauty of Ginger. Monthly plans range from just over $12 a month, to just under $30 a month.

Pros:

– It features sentence rephrasing, grammar and spelling checks, and text reader functions.
– It has a built-in dictionary.
– It has a context-specific grammar checking capability.

Cons:

– It requires an internet connection.
– It does not contain a plagiarism check.

WhiteSmoke

Finally, we have WhiteSmoke. This grammar check software, like the previous two, is compatible with both your PC and your mobile devices. A lot of users have turned to WhiteSmoke because of the convenience it offers to them. It is not only affordable, but it is also very accurate in all of its features.

The WhiteSmoke grammar check function is capable of catching common errors, such as sentence fragments, typographical errors, and incorrect capitalizations, among others. It, of course, features a spellcheck function, and with its up-to-date and comprehensive database of spellings, you will rarely have to worry about missing a common, but misspelled, word.

Aside from your grammar and spelling, WhiteSmoke is also capable of spotting mistakes in your writing style. This tool learns as it goes, matching your style with other samples. Then, it offers tips and recommendations to improve your writing style, while still maintaining your unique voice.

You think your content is original enough? Like Grammarly, Whitesmoke offers a plagiarism checker. This is very useful for both students and teachers.

Another feature that WhiteSmoke  offers is its translator function. It is capable of translating any document into over 45 languages. That is definitely a plus!

Some users say they find the interface to be outdated, but Whitesmoke remains one of the most popular grammar check programs on the market. . Unfortunately, only the limited, web-based version is free. The other versions run from $6.59 to $17.95 a month.

Pros:

– It is accurate.
– It comes with a built-in plagiarism detection feature.

Cons:

– It requires an internet connection in order to use it.
– It may be somewhat buggy.

Conclusion

If we have to choose among the three grammar checkers, we would recommend Grammarly the most. Though the other two programs are very reliable, Grammarly’s accuracy and precision beat out the others, giving you a stellar finished product. Whether they are writing articles, books, or blog posts, many writers use and trust this program. While Ginger and WhiteSmoke are excellent alternatives that offer similar features, in the end, Grammarly offers the best value for your dollar.

15 Common Grammar Mistakes

For many, writing is undoubtedly fun and exciting to do until they come across grammar. Indeed, many of us find it quite difficult to maintain perfect grammar even after years of studying English. Some thoughts may sound good in our minds. But when they are already written, our original ideas end up the other way around. We discover that we have made several grammar mistakes which should not be there in the first place.

Keeping perfect grammar is a tedious job, especially to some. It is not enough that we learn the rules, but it is more important to use them more often in writing so that you will be able to master these rules. In this article, we are going to discuss 15 grammar mistakes that you may be doing unknowingly. We will also explain how you are going to apply these rules by citing several examples.

1. Your vs. You’re

This is actually one of the most – if the not the – most common grammar mistakes people usually make. “Your” signifies something that belongs to you. “You’re,” on the other hand, is just the contracted form of, “you are.” Since this pair of pronouns is a set of homophones, many people may be able to interchange them. Hence, be mindful of their definitions. Check out these examples.

Wrong: Your absent yesterday.

Correct: You’re absent yesterday. (indicating that you were absent yesterday)

Wrong: I believe that this is you’re laptop.

Correct: I believe that this is your laptop. (indicating that this laptop is yours)

 

2. Its vs. It’s

This is another set of homophones which frequently confuses writers. “Its” signifies something that belongs to a neutral noun. “It’s,” on the other hand, refers to the contracted form of “it is.” One of the two is a possessive pronoun while the other is a contraction. Take a long at the examples below.

Wrong: Its hot inside the laboratory.
Correct: It’s hot inside the laboratory.

Wrong: Have you seen it’s decorations?
Correct: Have you seen its decorations?

Notice how the meaning of the sentences would change if the wrong word has been used.

 

3. There vs. They’re vs. Their

The there- they’re-their homophone group has also confused a lot of writers. “There” is used to refer to the direction that is not here. It is also used to state the presence of something. “They’re” is the contraction of the term, “they are.” Finally, “their” refers to possession, something that belongs to them.

Since they have different definitions, you should know how each of them is used in sentences. Let us take for instance these sentences.

Wrong: Their are a thousand goats over they’re backyard.
Correct: There a thousand goats over their backyard.

Wrong: They’re boat collapsed because there clumsy.
Correct: Their boat collapsed because they’re clumsy.

 

4. Affect vs. Effect

Many writers would also commit a mistake of interchanging these two words together since they look and sound alike. However, these words mean different. Affect is a verb which means to influence or have an impact on. On the other hand, effect is a noun which means the consequence of an action or a cause.

Wrong: There is a direct affect of the heat in the experiment.
Correct: There is a direct effect of the heat in the experiment.

Wrong: How did this experience effect your personality?
Correct: How did this experience affect your personality?

 

5. Who vs. Whom vs. Who’s vs. Whose

For these four words, it is better to break them into four separate sentences.

“Who” is used when asking for a human being. The answer is usually the subject of the sentence. For instance, we ask, “Who built this city through rock and roll?” The answer is definitely a person.

“Whom” is used to describe someone who will receive something. The answer is usually the object of the sentence. For example, we ask, “To whom are you paying your lunch?”

“Who’s” is a contraction of, “who is.” For example, we would say, “Who’s the tallest man on the planet.

“Whose,” on the other hand, is a possessive term used when asking the owner of something. For instance, we say, “Whose shirt was present there?”

6. Less vs. Fewer

The difference between these two words depends on whether the object being described can be counted or not. “Fewer” is used when the objects can be counted. “Less” is used for objects which are not quantifiable. Let us look at these sentences, for example.

Wrong: There are less roads which have not been renovated yet.
Correct: There are fewer roads which have not been renovated yet. (roads can be counted)

Wrong: There is fewer happiness left in this world.
Correct: There is less happiness left in this world. (happiness cannot be counted)

7. Amount vs. Number

These words are used in the same way as “fewer” and “less” since these would refer to quantifiable and non-quantifiable objects. “Amount” would refer to objects which cannot be counted. “Number” would refer to objects which can be counted.

Wrong: Please get a number of water from the basin.
Correct: Please get an amount of water from the basin. (water cannot be counted)

Wrong: An amount of birds are flocking the tree.
Correct: A number of birds are flocking the tree. (birds can be counted)

8. Compliment vs. Complement

A lot of people, even writers for that matter, would mix these things up since they do sound the same and they both look alike. However, they mean differently. “Complement” refers to something that completes another thing. Meanwhile, “compliment” refers to a polite expression of admiration. To make things clearer, take a look at the following examples.

Wrong: He gave her a positive complement for her dress.
Correct: He gave her a positive compliment for her dress.

Wrong: Her voice did compliment the tonality of the choir.
Correct: Her voice did complement the tonality of the choir.

 

9. Between vs. Among

The term “between” is used to describe two things that are separated while “among” refers to things that are not clearly separated from each other because each of the objects belongs to a part of a group.

Hence, you choose between a pencil and a pen, but you choose among all the writing materials. Furthermore, you could choose between a blouse or a plain t-shirt, but you choose among the dresses.

 

10. Use of Commas

Many people also commit mistakes in their use of commas. There are instances when a comma is placed in a sentence which does not require it. There are also some sentences which require a comma, but people tend to skip it. Let us take a look at some examples.

Wrong: Danica chose to stay inside the house, because she was afraid of ghosts.
Correct: Danica chose to stay inside the house because she was afraid of ghosts.

Wrong: People tend to leave out commas but there are instances when they really need it.
Correct: People tend to leave out commas, but there are instances when they really need it.

11. Parallel Structure

Parallelism in sentences happens when two or more similar parts of the sentence are parallel in terms of grammar. Weak parallelism occurs when this does not happen. It is often present in a series of items.

Wrong: His everyday routine includes going to the grocery, visiting the doctor, and lift weights.
Correct: His everyday routine includes, going to the grocery, visiting the doctor, and lifting weights.

Take note that the words used to denote action should all end in -ing to exhibit parallelism.

12. Split Infinitives

An infinitive refers to the combination of the word “to” plus the verb. The split infinitive separates the combination with another word, usually an adverb. While there are no strict rules which prohibit split infinitives, many writers do not recommend this. This is because the sentence may sound awkward.

Wrong: He decided to quickly dash to the seashore for the annual games.
Correct: He decided to dash to the seashore quickly for the annual games.

13. Subject-Verb Agreement

One of the most basic rules of grammar is to make your subject and verb agree with each other. If the subject of the sentence is singular, then the verb must also be singular. If the subject of the sentence is plural, then the verb must also follow suit.

Wrong: The cabinets is going to be repainted tomorrow.
Correct: The cabinets are going to be repainted tomorrow.

Wrong: The most important among all the sayings were to seize the day.
Correct: The most important among all the sayings is to seize the day.

14. Unclear Use of Pronouns

When you replace a noun with a pronoun, be sure that its reference is clear as day so as not to confuse your readers as to the pronoun reference. Let us take a look at the sentence for example.

Wrong: Dorothy told her mother that she will be buying her bag.
Correct: Dorothy told her mother, “I will buy your bag.”

In the first sentence, it is unclear who will buy the dress and to whom the dress will be given. The second sentence clears it out.

15. Punctuations in Quotation Marks

In sentences involving dialogs, you should always place your punctuation marks inside the quotation marks and not outside them. Placing them outside is grammatically incorrect.

Wrong: “Tell me the reason”, she thought aloud.
Correct: “Tell me the reason,” she thought aloud.

Wrong: “Have I done something wrong to offend you”? The minister asked.
Correct: “Have I done something wrong to offend you?” the minister asked.

Conclusion

Whether you are a language enthusiast or casual writer, you should strive to maintain high standards of grammar. We love using Grammarly to make sure we’re writing properly and you can read more about our love of Grammarly in our review.

 

I.E. vs. E.G.

I.e and e.g are often mistaken words in grammar. The two abbreviations are both from Latin language but know the difference between i.e. vs e.g. can be challenging.

E.g in Latin means exempli gratia which translates in English to ‘for example.’ E.g is mostly used to introduce examples, one or several. E.g also should appear in lowercase in the middle of a sentence, also ideally these abbreviations should be followed by a comma.

I.e in Latin is ‘id est’ which means in English ‘in other words.’ I.e. is used when giving more information about a statement. I.e, also should appear in lowercase in the middle of a sentence and should be followed by a comma.

In a sentence, the two abbreviations can appear as follows:

1. On my way to town, I will go through the shopping mall I.e., the Savannah Mall.

2. On my way to town, I will go through a shopping mall e.g., Savannah or Two rivers Mall.

In the first example, it’s evident that I will visit Savannah mall and not any other mall. In my second example, it’s not clear which mall I will be visiting between Savannah and Two Rivers.

These two examples clearly show how to use these two abbreviations well in a sentence.

There are a few formatting issues you need to be aware of when using these abbreviations. You should not italize i.e and e.g in your writings even if they originate from Latin language and a comma should come after a period in the two abbreviations. I.e and e.g should mostly be used to introduce parenthetic statements, but you can also use them in other ways provided it suits well.

We hope you now understand the differences between i.e. and e.g. better!

How to Start a Blog in 5 Easy Steps

how to start a blogHave you always wanted to document your life? Perhaps you want to write about your experiences from your recent trips abroad. Or you want to share your expertise on beauty and make-up. Maybe you want to make writing a career, and not just a pastime. Either way, you should know how to start a blog.

Blogging has never been easier. There are so many tools and resources available on the internet that setting up a blog is a breeze. In this article, we’ll tell you how to start a blog in 5 easy steps.

1. Find a Topic

Obviously, the first thing that you should do is to come up with a topic to write about. Every article that you will post on your blog should center around this topic. Therefore, you should choose something that you are passionate about. This is because if you don’t care enough about the topic, you won’t be able to put your heart into it and may find it difficult to invest your time and money into starting the blog.

If you are fond of traveling, you could start a travel blog where you talk about the places you have been, how you have been to such a place, and even your itineraries. If you are a tech guru, your blog topics could center around everything related to technology including reviews of the best gadgets or how to make a smart home.

Furthermore, choosing a topic also informs what audience you will begin to build. If you stick to a certain niche, you can surely grow a dedicated audience who always await your posts.

Remember that there is no better way to share your expertise and experiences than creating your own blog. So you should be mindful of the topic first.

2. Get a Domain Name

After successfully choosing a topic, you should also pick a domain name for your blog that is related to your topic. Choosing the right domain name can be hard since you want to pick a domain name that is both memorable and meaningful while also conveying the topic of your site. Therefore, you should follow some basic rules when choosing a domain name.

First, you want your domain name to be catchy and memorable. For a name to work, it should then be easy to write and pronounce. The words should also be easy to spell and say.

Second, you want the domain name to be specific in order to grab the attention of your desired visitors. It should be specified in such a way that your audience would know what your topic is. For instance, you could opt for orchestracentral.com if you plan to talk about musical instruments. If you are a film enthusiast who wants to review films, you could choose filmlover.com.

However, you should not be too particular with your name, since it would only limit your articles. This would be detrimental you to as the writer since you would run out of articles. For instance, Fly Fishing Frenzy would only be limited to fly fishing. If you are into other types of fishing such as surf fishing, then it would not be appropriate to feature it on such website.

Finally, there’s the debate between .com and .net/.org/.biz/etc. I would suggest that you always stick with .com unless you are a specific organization who would benefit from having a .org domain name.

If you can, you could look for top names of the niche of your choice. If someone has already taken your chosen domain name, you should have a backup name.

There are many websites that sell domain name. GoDaddy is my favorite, but you can also bundle domain names with web hosting services from Bluehost and other web hosts.

3. Get a Hosting Service & Blogging Platform

Now that you have chosen a topic and a domain name, it is time to find a home for your blog.

While you could certainly go with a free blogging service like WordPress.com or Blogger.com, if you want to fully customize your blog and make it your own you should get a hosting service. Our favorite is Bluehost (this site started on it) because it’s cheap and reliable. Bluehost comes with a one-click WordPress installation so you can get your blog up and running in no time.

4. Write Your First Post

If you’re done with the technical setup, it is time to write your first blog post. It could be about anything realted to your topic chosen in step 1. You could write an introduction or you could explain what your brand is. You could also start posting relevant articles immediately. However, making a blog does not only entail you writing anything. There are also other things you have to consider.

Pick a theme

Once your web hosting service and your platform are installed, you could already start customizing the theme and make it your own. Pick a theme that would suit your content, the maturity of your desired audience, and how you want to brand yourself. Be as creative as possible since this is the first thing that your visitors would notice, next to your articles.

Platforms like WordPress offer free themes. However, they also offer you premium themes where you would pay such before you could utilize them. Other sites like Wix would allow you to make your own theme by dragging and dropping the contents present on your interface. It’s basically up to your preference which between these two types of platforms should you use.

When designing your own theme, do not forget to include several plugins which would greatly help your writing. You could use Yoast to check your grammar based on SEO standards.

Get Unstuck

Now is the time to write your articles. You have successfully written your first few posts. However, you find yourself stuck on your blog. You cannot do anything with your blog because of something you might have missed. Perhaps you are not motivated or there are technical things like coding that you do not know. Hence, you should learn to solve these things.

If you lost motivation, try to muster enough commitment to carry out your blog. Remember that this trait will get you through the place you have gotten stuck at.

If you are stuck at technical things, you could always resort to customer service. Web hosting site BlueHost has a 24/7 customer service feature which provides you an avenue to talk to the hosting site directly. This would immediately solve some problems.

5. Keep Going

Finally, keep going. After you have written your first articles, you should see to it that you consistently try to post new and exciting content based on your niche. Not only would it improve your talent, but it would increase your prospect audience as well. Consistency is the key to improve your rank on search engines, attract more audience, and even have the opportunity to affiliate your blogs to businesses and online stores. The possibilities are endless.

Conclusion

There you have it. After going through how to start a blog in 5 easy steps, we hope that you have already gained enough information to start your own blog. As it turns out, it’s not that difficult after all. As a matter of fact, you could actually start making one now! All you need is the drive to start a blog and the capacity to go through these five simple steps. Then, you’ll be on your way to becoming a professional and successful blogger.

Best Laptops for Writers 2019

Do you need a new laptop or are you just wondering what the best laptops for writers are? You have come to the right place for any of these questions! As a website catered to writers of all kinds, we are uniquely able to tell you about the best laptops for writers. With each laptop review, we will also tell you for what writing the laptop is suited, be it for writing books, novels, notes, business proposals, etc.

Given that most writers need to be mobile, we will keep this list to only laptops, but plan to review desktops as well in the future. The following guide of best laptops for writers is geared towards full-time writers who need great writing laptops for their jobs, but anyone is welcome to read this guide.

Best Laptops for Writers 2019

LaptopProcessor | RAM | Storage
1. Lenovo IdeapadAMD | 8GB | 1TB SSD
2. Acer AspireIntel® i5 | 6GB | 1TB
3. MacBook AirIntel® i5 | 8GB | 128GB SSD
4. HP Notebook ay011nrIntel® i5 | 8GB | 1TB
5. Acer ChromebookIntel Celeron | 4GB | 32B SSD
6. Lenovo ThinkPad T470SIntel® i5 | 8GB | 256GB SSD
7. ASUS ZenBookIntel® i5 | 8GB | 256GB SSD
8. Dell InspironIntel® i5 | 8GB | 1TB
9. Microsoft Surface BookIntel® i5 | 8GB | 128GB SSD
10. MacBook ProIntel® i5 | 8GB | 128GB SSD

What makes the best laptop for writers?

Buying a new laptop can be a challenge if you don’t know what to look for in a laptop. Before we begin, let us define what makes a great laptop for writers. The eight key things you need to look for when buying a new laptop are below:

Recommended laptop configuration for writers:

Storage: These days, at least 250GB is ideal. If you travel a lot, you may want to look into an SSD drive upgrade

Graphics: Getting a discrete is recommended, but not necessary

RAM: Buy at least 4GB, but more than 6GB is preferred

Software: Buy Windows or Mac OSX and your preferred word processor

Processor: AMD A6/ Intel i3 OR better

Keyboard: Buying a full keyboard might be beneficial if you have to type numbers a lot, have big hands, or just prefer one. You can either get a larger laptop (heavier) or buy a lightweight USB keyboard. Also, we highly recommend getting a backlit keyboard so you can write in low light.

Weight: Choose something lightweight (less than 4lbs) if you will carry it often

1. Lenovo Ideapad

This year the Lenovo Ideapad is our favorite laptop for writers.

Lenovo is known for making quality, lightweight laptops. The Ideapad is one of their most value-driven laptops available making it perfect for the budget-conscious writer.

It comes with a 3.0GHz AMD Quad Core processor, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, a 1TB SSD hard drive, and a DVD reader (rare these days) all for less than $400 att the time of this writing. It also has 2 USB 3.0 ports and a USB Type-C port so you know it will work with all of your accessories.

Even with all of these features, the Ideapad weighs a mere 4.85lbs and is only 0.9 inches thick, so your backpack won’t be weighed down by this laptop.

2. Acer Aspire

The Acer Aspire could be one of your best investments as a writer since it has everything you need to spend hours writing. It has a long battery life (12 hours), a backlit keyboard, and plenty of RAM and storage.

The Acer Aspire packs a 15.6 inch full-HD screen, an Intel i5 processor and 6GB of RAM. Also, the Acer includes 2GB of dedicated graphics RAM so if you are planning to do a lot of image editing, this is a great buy.

The laptop comes preinstalled with the Windows 10 operating system, but that can be customized. It also included a backlit keyboard which is great for writers who love late nights.

3. MacBook Air

The MacBook Air is the most portable laptop on this list. While it is one of the more expensive laptops, it weighs only 2.95 lbs, making it the lightest laptop on this list and a great choice for writers on-the-go. It has everything a writer needs and the Mac OS makes it extremely simple to use.

The MacBook Air features a 13.3-inch display, 8GB RAM, a 128GB SSD, and up to 12 hours of battery life. The MacBook Air doesn’t have a retina display so as to limit the amount of extra weight added from a bigger battery and graphics processor.

We recommend the MacBook Air if you want a lightweight laptop that features the Mac operating system. The asking price of ~$900 may be off-putting, but if you love the Apple ecosystem, this is the laptop for you.

4. HP Notebook ay011nr

The best laptop for writers by far is the HP Notebook ay011nr and it packs a load of features. It’s really hard to match the bang for your buck with this laptop.

This gem features a 15.6 inch full-HD screen, an Intel i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 1TB hard drive. It even has a backlit keyboard to boot. For an additional $30, you can get an SSD hard drive which will make it less prone to heating issues and will eliminate your worries about losing data from a hard drive crash.

The laptop comes preinstalled with the Windows 10 operating system, but that can be customized. The only downside to this laptop is the weight which comes in at a little under 5 lbs.

Very rarely can you get a laptop with such great features for such a great price. We highly recommend you snatch this laptop up before it’s gone since it is the best laptop for writers!

5. Acer Chromebook

The lowest priced laptop on our list, the Acer Chromebook certainly offers many of the tools writers are looking for out-of-the-box.

While it may not pack the same power as the other laptops on this list, the Chromebook doesn’t need to. It has a 14-inch screen, which is plenty for writing,  4GB of RAM, and a 1.6 GHz processor. It only has 32GB of storage, but that’s because everything it does is stored in the cloud so you never have to worry about losing files!

All Chromebooks run on Google’s proprietary Google OS which functions very much like the Google Chrome browser.

For the price of less than $250, it’s hard to beat the Google Chromebook, especially when it has all the features writers are looking for.

6. Lenovo ThinkPad T470S

One of the higher-priced laptops on this list, the Lenovo ThinkPad T470S book offers plenty of perks to make up for the price tag.

This laptop features a 14-inch touchscreen, an Intel i5 processor, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, and a 256GB solid-state hard drive. It even has a backlit keyboard and it is very lightweight at only 2.9lbs and 0.8″. The battery will also last for your entire writing day since it boasts a 12.5-hour battery.

If you’re willing to spend a little bit more on this laptop, we’re sure that you will get your money’s worth.

7. ASUS ZenBook

One of the higher-priced laptops on our 2016 list, the Asus ZenBook book offers plenty of perks to make up for the price tag.

This laptop features a 13.3-inch multi-touch (yes, you can tap it!) screen, an Intel i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 1TB hard drive. It even has a backlit keyboard and it is the lightest laptop on this list. Obviously, the main differentiator between this laptop and the others on this list is the touchscreen. This is a huge benefit for writers who want to archive their work immediately in real-time on their laptops.

If you’re looking for a laptop on which you can handwrite notes, this is the laptop for you!

8. Dell Inspiron

Another great laptop, the Dell Inspiron has everything you’d expect from a great laptop for writers at a reasonable price.

An i5 Intel processor, 8GB RAM, 15.6 inch touchscreen, a 1TB HDD, and Windows 10 operating system. This touchscreen is cheaper than the Asus ZenBook which makes it a great buy if you are looking for a touchscreen. The wide palm area is ideal for writers as well. The 7 hours of battery life also makes this laptop a steal.

If you are a looking for a reliable, great laptop with a touchscreen this is a great laptop.

9. Microsoft Surface Book

Microsoft really knocked it out of the park when the developed the Surface Book. It is a beautiful laptop that is perfect  for writers who love touchscreens. While a lot pricier than most of the laptops on this list, it definitely makes up for it with value. We do only recommend this laptop for serious writers though due to the price.

Being a Microsoft laptop, the Surface Book comes preinstalled with Windows 10. The base model comes with 4GB RAM, a 13.5-inch PixelSense Display works perfectly with the included pen, an Intel i5 processor, 128 GB of storage, 8GB RAM, and up to 12 hours of battery life. The keyboard disconnects from the screen, allowing you to use it as a tablet as well.

The best part about this laptop is the screen. The included pen works seamlessly with the laptop, making this is the best touchscreen we have on this list. If you enjoy writing on laptops or tablets, this is the laptop for you.

10. MacBook Pro

No list of the best laptops for writers would be complete without the MacBook Pro. While we love this laptop, it is quite pricey which is why we don’t rank it higher in our list.

The MacBook Pro 13.3-Inch Retina Display, 8GB RAM, a 128GB SSD, and up to 9 hours of battery life. MacBooks come with the Mac OS X Yosemite, but you can install Windows by using the Parallels program. It is also one of the lightest laptops on this list. It has a backlit keyboard for writing in low light and a spacious palm rest.

We recommend the MacBook Pro if you prefer the Mac OSX operating system environment or prefer a really great screen resolution. The asking price of $1,200 may be off-putting, but if you love the Apple ecosystem, this is the laptop for you.

What Is the Oxford Comma and Why Is It Important?

It is common knowledge that writing is fun and exciting, especially when you want to express yourself vividly. You want to write from the heart, devoid of the standards of journalism. But to some extent, you would have to write based on the conventions of grammar. One of these conventions includes the use of the Oxford comma.

You may be wondering what the Oxford comma is. You may, in fact, have used it before. In this article, we will introduce you to the Oxford comma and why you should be using it in your writing.

The Oxford Comma Defined

The Oxford comma, also known as the serial comma, is the final comma that is placed before a coordinating conjunction in a set of three or more objects. These coordinating conjunctions include “and” or “or.” Editors and writers have varied opinions on whether or not people should use the serial comma. Even its use also differs between and among regional varieties of English. Nevertheless, the comma has been used in various pieces throughout the ages.

Let us provide you with an example:

Sentence 1: John brought us apples, oranges and grapes.

Sentence 2: John brought us apples, oranges, and grapes.

 

If you look at the Sentence 1 above, the Oxford comma was not used. Hence, we can conclude that the two fruits namely, “oranges and grapes” are considered as one. In Sentence 2, the Oxford comma was used. This changes the whole structure of the sentence. We can safely assume that John brought three different fruits: apples, oranges, and also grapes.

You should note that the Oxford comma is optional, which means you are not required to use it. As a matter of fact, it is not a common practice in countries such as the United Kingdom, South Africa, or Australia. Although it is a standard grammar rule in the United States, it is more common when dealing with non-journalistic forms of prose.

Importance of the Oxford Comma

As we have mentioned earlier, using the serial comma or Oxford comma is entirely optional. However, the meanings of most – if not all – sentences might change drastically without it. This is one of the reasons why the Oxford comma is important.

Let us take for instance several examples presented below.

Sentence 1: Cynthia invited her two bosses, Larry and Bert.

Sentence 2: Cynthia invited her two bosses, Larry, and Bert.

With the omission of a comma, the meaning of the sentence changes completely. For the first sentence, Cynthia invited two people – her two bosses. This is because the absence of the Oxford comma makes it appear that the bosses are in fact, Larry and Bert. However, in the second sentence, Cynthia invited four people – her two bosses, Larry, and finally, we have Bert. The presence of the Oxford comma makes it appear that Larry and Bert are separate entities from the two bosses.

One of the other reasons why the Oxford comma is necessary is so that we could make our thoughts as clear as possible. When writing, the stress or pause which we intend might not be translated fully into text. This might confuse a lot of readers. Let us look at another example where this reason is evident.

Sentence 1: Dimitri drove with his best friend, a doctor and an engineer.

Sentence 2: Dimitri drove with his best friend, a doctor, and an engineer.

If we try to study the first sentence, we may conclude that Dimitri’s best friend is a doctor and an engineer at the same time. This is because the absence of the Oxford comma allows us to think that these two terms (namely, the doctor and the engineer) describe his best friend. However, if we try to add the Oxford comma after the conjunction, the whole sentence forms a new meaning. The second sentence now means that Dimitri drove with three different people – his best friend, a doctor, and also the engineer.

Here is another example where confusion might arise when the Oxford comma is absent.

Sentence 1: She dedicated her speech to her parents, Walt Whitman and God.

Sentence 2: She dedicated her speech to her parents, Walt Whitman, and God.

Basing from the first sentence, it is likely that the speech was dedicated to her parents, namely Walt Whitman and God. This might confuse readers since they could comprehend that her parents’ names are indeed Walt Whitman and God. To avoid confusion and ambiguity, the comma is essential. If we look at the second sentence, it becomes more evident – that the speech was dedicated to her parents, to Walt Whitman, and finally, to God.

To read more about common oxford comma issues and other punctuation errors, you should read Eats, Shoots & Leaves.the oxford comma

History of the Oxford Comma

Like the comma itself, the origins of the Oxford comma is also ambiguous. But before we do get to know the person who is attributed to this grammar style, we have to give credit to the person who introduced comma. An Italian painter in the 15th century, Aldus Manutius (or Aldo Manuzio as others call him) introduced the concept of the comma in order to separate things.

Horace Hart, on the other hand, is attributed to be the person who introduced the serial comma to the world. Hart is a controller of the Oxford University Press from the year 1893 to 1915. In the year 1905, he published a book entitled, “Hart’s Rules for Compositors and Readers,” which served as a style guide for the employers who used to work at the press. The Oxford comma was included in such rule.

There were others, however, which were attributed to being the one who introduced such concept. Peter Sutcliff credited F. Howard Collins for introducing Oxford comma. It was noted that Collins stated it in his 1912 book entitled, “Author & Printer: A Guide for Authors, Editors, Printers, Correctors of the Press, Compositors, and Typists.” Nevertheless, it was Sutcliff himself who called the Oxford comma as such in his 1978 book regarding the history of the Oxford University Press.

No matter the ambiguous history, there is one thing that is clear – the need to use the Oxford comma. Why not try using it today?

Capitalizing Names of Holidays and Holiday Terms

Holidays, whether religious, secular, or national, are proper nouns and therefore should be capitalized. This includes all national holidays when businesses are closed, such as Columbus Day, and most religious and holy days, such as Hanukkah.

The holiday capitalization rules include whether you use the short or long form of the title. For example, both New Year’s Day and New Year’s are capitalized. This also includes related “eves” such as New Year’s Eve or Halloween Eve.

If you are using the holiday in a title or headline, any proceeding adjectives that are referencing the holiday, such as “Merry Christmas,” are also capitalized.

Here’s a list of some of the most common holidays that are capitalized:

Advent

All Saints’ Day

Australia Day

Bastille Day

Boxing Day

Canada Day

Christmas (also Christmas Day and Christmas Eve)

Coming of Age Day (Japan)

Easter

Epiphany

Father’s Day

Good Friday

Hanukkah

Holocaust Remembrance Day

Holy Thursday, Holy Saturday, Holy Week

Independence Day (US) also the Fourth of July and July Fourth

Kwanzaa

Labor Day (US)

Labour Day (Canada and other nations)

Lent

Martin Luther King Jr. Day (US)

Maundy Thursday

May Day

Memorial Day

Michaelmas (the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel)

Mother’s Day

New Year’s (also New Year’s Day and New Year’s Eve)

Passover

Presidents’ Day

Purim

Ramadan

Remembrance Day

Rosh Hashanah

St George’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day (also Saint or St Patrick’s Day)

Thanksgiving (also Thanksgiving Day)

the High Holy Days

Twelfth Night

Valentine’s Day

Veterans Day (no apostrophe)

Victoria Day (Canada)

Victory Day (Russia)

Yom Kippur


Do these holiday capitalization rules always hold?

No. As with any rules, there are exceptions. When written in standard text, the following should not be capitalized.

  • happy birthday
  • happy Thanksgiving
  • happy holidays
  • happy anniversary
  • season’s greetings
  • happy or merry Christmas
  • happy New Year

Active vs Passive Voice

Using active or passive voice in the construction of sentences is a characteristic that makes the English language distinct. Whether writing for formal speeches or delivering conversational messages, these two voices are often used to convey a message.

However, the proper use of these voices sometimes confuse many writers. It creates a dilemma that might be difficult to solve, especially if you lack the know-hows. In this article, we are going to differentiate active voice from passive voice. We are also going to discuss when you should use them, and why you should use each.

Active Voice and Passive Voice

Before differentiating the two, we need to identify the components that are crucial in the construction of sentences. The first component is the subject. The subject performs the action. It serves as the primary character of the sentence. The next component is the verb. The verb is the action that the subject is doing.

To further understand what subjects and verbs are, we have to take a look at some examples.

The bird is flying in the air.

In the sentence, the bird acts as the subject while flying is the verb.

Jomar sent another proposal to his client.

In the sentence, Jomar acts as the subject who does the verb, sent.

After identifying the main components of the sentence, you have to examine the relationship between the subject and the verb. You have to gauge whether the subject performs the action, or it is being performed by something else. This is where active and passive voice come in.

Fundamentally speaking, the active voice highlights the subject that performs the verb. This type of voice is apparent when the subject goes first, followed by the verb. The passive voice, on the other hand, gives emphasis to the verb or the recipient of the verb, rather than the subject. Usually, the verb comes first followed by the subject.

To further understand the difference between the two, we try to look at several examples of passive and active voice.

Example 1

Active voice: The student receives his certificate.

Passive voice: The certificate is received by the student.

In the example above, we can clearly gauge the difference between the active and the passive voice. For the active voice, we can identify that the student is the subject that does the receiving of the certificate. The passive voice, on the other hand, focuses on the certificate rather than the subject.

If we try to analyze the sentences more, we can also see that the active voice is more concise and more direct than the passive voice.

Let us take a look at another example and try to study it.

 

Example 2

Active voice: The teacher demonstrated the lesson in such a way that the students understood.

Passive voice: The lesson was demonstrated by the teacher in such a way that the students understood.

The sentences above are more complex than the examples given earlier, but it is still relatively easy to spot which among them is in active voice and passive voice. In the first sentence, the teacher is highlighted. It was also clear that the verb used was demonstrated. In the second sentence, the lesson – or the object of the sentence – is given importance. The teacher, who serves as the subject, was only stated after the verb has been stated.

There are instances when the subject cannot be identified, hence the use of passive voice is more proper. Let us take a look at this example.

Example 3

Passive voice: The flash drive was retrieved yesterday.

Active voice: Someone retrieved the flash drive yesterday.

In this sentence, we can feel a sense of mystery since it was not stated who retrieved the flash drive. If a subject is not identified, then the passive voice may be used. We cannot just say someone as the subject.

But this is not the only instance when the passive voice can be used.

Example 4

Passive voice: The bags were delivered late.

Active voice: You delivered the bags late.

In the example above, you may want to be discreet by not naming the subject of the sentence. Hence, you could use passive voice. Using active voice on the sentence only shatters your tactfulness.

Example 5

Passive voice: Her proposal has been rejected by the client because of lack of expertise.

Active voice: The client rejected her proposal because of lack of expertise.

You could also use the passive voice – like the example above – when you want to highlight the action rather than the subject. Since the term rejected is more powerful than that of the client, it should be given more emphasis.

Example 6

Passive voice: The papers should be given not later than Thursday night.

Active voice: You should give the papers not later than Thursday night.

In certain instances, you could use passive voice when you want to create a tone with authority. In the sentence above, using the active voice would just make it less authoritative.

Why Use the Active Voice

While there are many instances where passive voice is used, many writers prefer active voice rather than the passive voice because with active voice the subject of the sentence is clear. With the use of active voice when writing, your output becomes more concise and straightforward rather than all over the place. This makes your essay much easier to understand and comprehend.

In other cases, using active voice will also add impact to your sentences. Since they are shorter, your sentences become sharper and clearer, giving readers the chance to visualize what is really happening.

Example 7

Active voice: The bamboo waved as the breeze blew softly.

In the sentence above, you create a vivid image, making readers understand you better. When the sentence becomes passive, the whole imagery of the sentence becomes a blur.

In addition to this, using active voice would keep your readers interested with what they are reading. Since your output is short, they are lead to believe that they will gain more information rather than those unclear ones.

Conclusion

In writing essays, it is important that you pay attention to the voice and one of your sentences. Doing so could help you improve your performance as a writer. In addition to this, your output becomes much easier to understand, attracting more readers along the way.

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