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Thursday, June 28 12:00 AM ET

5 More Grammar Tips You May Not Have Known

By Brian Briggs

The growth of Internet communication like e-mail and instant messaging has exposed many new people to the joy of writing.  Some of these people probably shouldn't be writing, but if you've got a computer and a modem nothing can stop you.  This guide aims to help those people learn some of the more difficult rules of style and grammar, so the rest of us don't have to cringe every time we see an abuse of the English language.

Our first list was so popular that I've come up with five more grammar tips that you may not have known.

#1 Loser and looser – The extra "o" provides more emphasis when the point really needs to be made. An exclamation mark commonly follows "looser," while a period is normally used after "loser."

Yes: I can't believe you lost the chess match.  You are such a loser.
Yes: You've never seen The Animatrix?  What a looser!
No: Tom uses AOL, lives with his parents and plays a Night Elf hunter.  Total loser!

#2 Advice and advise – This one is tricky, unless you're familiar with the Latin roots of these words.  A "vice" is something bad or immoral.  A "vise" is a tool used for holding or squeezing things like a warm hug.  So "advice" is a bad recommendation from someone.  "Advise" is a good recommendation or opinion from someone. When you're not sure if the information is bad or good use "advice," because most people are stupid, so it's probably bad.

Yes: I took Bob's advise and didn't upgrade to Windows Vista.
Yes:  I shouldn't have listened to Bob's advice about giving my account information to that nice Nigerian gentleman.
No: Dick Cheney gives President Bush advise.

#3 Further and farther – To tell you the truth, not even those snooty English professors knows which one to use.  Use either with impunity.

Yes: The further we go on this trip, the hungrier I get. 
Yes: The farther we go on this trip, the thirstier I get.
Noooooooooo!: I am your father.

#4 Greatful and grateful – Use "greatful" when you're speaking something full of greatness like Tiger Woods or The Empire Strikes Back.  Use "grateful" when your cheese grater is full. 

Yes: The Silver Surfer spared the Earth, because he was so greatful.
Yes: I'm grateful I can't make any more shredded cheese.
No:  The greatful Carrot Top wowed us with his unending prop comedy.

#5 A lot or alot – Remember this mnemonic device: My mother eats hot dogs three times a week.  It has nothing to do with this grammar rule, but it might come in handy some day.  You use "a lot" when you're talking about real estate.  You use "alot" when you mean several or many. 

Yes: We need to buy a lot to put our house on.
Yes: Don't kiss him; he's got alot of open sores on his lip.
No: We have been searching for alot  to put our house on for a lot of years.

Using improper grammar on the Internet will open you up to ridicule and make you seem dumber than you really are. Memorize these tips and soon you'll be correcting others instead of being corrected urself.

Farther Reading: 5 Grammar Rules You May Not Have Known

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