Elements Of Style


First PersonI, we, me, us, our
Second PersonYou, your, yours
Third PersonHe, him, his, she, her


Should be place next to the word they modify when possible.

  • Don't: All the teachers were not present.
  • Do: Not all the teachers were present.


Place long conditions after the main clause.

  • Don't: If you own more than fifty acres and cultivate grapes, you are subject to water rationing.
  • Do: You are subject to water rationing if you own more than 50 acres and cultivate grapes.


A word to identify any of a class of people, places, things (common) or a particular name of one of these (proper).


A word that replaces a noun. Instead of "Sam likes pizza", using "He likes pizza" would have the pronoun "he".


Shows relationship between a noun or pronoun and some other word in the sentence. The relationship is spatial, temporal or directional. "I walked towards the house" would have "towards" as the proposition as it shows direction. When linked with noun or pronouns, it creates a "prepositional phrase" -- the example being "towards the house".


Used to link words or parts of a sentence together. There are four types: coordinating (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so), subordinating (after, as, although, once), adverb (furthermore, consequently, moreover) and correlative (both...and).


A word added to sentence to convey emotion and is not grammatically related to any other part of the sentence. Example "Wow!". Should be avoided in academic and professional writing.


Descriptively modifies a noun of pronoun. "I am a tall, skinny man" would use two adjectives "tall" and "skinny".


Articles include "a", "an" and "the".


The "doing" words. They show action. They are at heart of compelling writing.


Similar to adjectives, the adverb modifies a verb, an adjective or another adverb. "I walked slowly towards the door" would have "slowly" as the adverb.


A verb form that almost always begins with the word "to" and ends with a simple verb.

Examples include "to walk", "to run", "to swim".


Verbs ended in -ing and functioning as a noun.

Examples include "Jumping is fun", "He liked skiing", and "He had a unique way of whistling".


Verbs ending in -ing (present participle) or -ed, -d, -t, -en, -n (past participle).

Examples include "The dancing parrots entertained the crowd.", "The wrecked sailboat washed up on shore.".

Transitive, Intransitive and Ditransitive verbs

A transitive verb takes a direct object; that is, the verb transmits action to an object:

  • He sent the letter (letter = direct object of sent).
  • She gave the lecture (lecture = direct object of gave).

An intranstive verb does not take an object:

  • She sleeps too much.
  • He complains too much.
  • He is sleeping.

Ditransitive verbs is one that takes both a direct object and indirect objects.

  • He gave her the letter (letter = direct object, her = indirect object).

Perfect and Imperfect verbs

By their different applications of timing and aspect, past perfect and imperfect verb phrases are used to show the varying ways that actions occurred in the past.

The imperfect tense is used to describe a completed event that occurred over a period of time or an event that occurred within an event. The perfect tense is used to show a brief action completed at a single point in time or to show which of two events occurred before the other.

Simple pastI swam/we swam
Imperfect pastI was swimming/we were swimming
Perfect pastI had swum/we had swum
Past perfect continuousI had been swimming/they had been swimming

Compound Subjects

More than one actor.

  • Eileen and he (not Eileen and him) enjoy dancing.

Adjective and Adverb Degrees (Paradigms)

Adjectives and adverbs change to show the comparative degree and superlative degree.

Sweet (adj)SweeterSweetest
Sweetly (adv)More sweetlyMost sweetly

Word Clutter


Intruders are a type of word clutter that add nothing to the sentence:

  • Don't: Paper records are endangered by fluctuating weather conditions.
  • Do: Paper records are endangered by fluctuating weather.


Adding unnecessary words that repeat the same thing.

  • Don't: The roof was partially destroyed by the cyclone.
  • Do: The roof was damaged by the cyclone.