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How to write like an English speaker.

1.  Lay and Laid  

Present:    The hen lays an egg.  The human lies down.  The human lays the table for dinner.

Past:          The hen laid an egg.   The human lay down.   The human laid the table for dinner.

2.  Effect and Affect

Effect is a noun.  Affect is a verb.   The effect of alcohol affects my judgment. 

Exceptions:  look up in dictionary. 

3.  It's and Its

It's always means it is:   It's hot in Tucson.    It's tea time.

Its shows non-human ownership:     The dog wagged its tail.  My shirt lost one of its buttons.     

4.   Apostrophe

Shows ownership, not plurals:  One girl's hats.  Two girls' cars.   The man's books.  The cat's paws.  The children's toys. 

5.  I and Me  

Makes sense:  (Jan and) I had lunch.        He took (Jan and) me to lunch.  

Nonsense:       (Jan and) me had lunch.    He took (Jan and) I to lunch.  

6.  Agreement

Subject and Action match:  None (not one) of the students is tardy.  A variety of styles is available.  

A herd of elephants is at the water hole.  The color of the sheets is pink.  

7.  Misnomers

What's the difference between pour and pore, wreak and reek, appraise and apprise, incredulous and incredible, compliment and complement, bait and bate?

She poured a cup of tea.  He pored over a legal document.  

The tornado wreaked havoc.  The girl reeked of cheap perfume. 

The diamond was appraised by a jeweller.  Keep me apprised of developments.

We were incredulous when we heard the incredible news.

I complimented her on the way her accessories complemented her outfit.  

While he baited the hook, I waited with bated breath.

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Esteemed guests:  feel free to send me your own favorite tips, 

which I'll post under your name.  

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