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Grammar Rules for Techies
(following the rules is easy, but only after you know what the rules are)
Version 1.1b (updated July 13, 2022) -

Why this paper? Because techies are great at following algorithms (rules). This paper presents very 'easy to follow' rules for some common grammar issues.

"I" vs "me"
Problem: When do you use "I" and when do you use "me"?

The Rule/Solution: The confusion comes from the usage of "XYZ and I/me" in a sentence. The solution is to just quickly reword the sentence in your head and then just pick the "I/me" that sounds best (which should then be obvious), as follows:
  • "Tom and I/me went to the store": Reword as "Tom went to the store" AND "I/me went to the store", and then the choice of I/me is obvious (the correct usage is "I").

  • "Come with Tom and I/me": Reword as "Come with Tom" AND "Come with I/me", and again, the choice of I/me becomes obvious (the correct usage is "me").
In effect, the trick to making the correct choice of I/me is to look at "XYZ and I/me" in any sentence, mentally remove the "XYZ and" from the sentence, leaving only "I/me" and then make the selection of "I/me" that sounds best to you (which at that point should then be obvious).

Not using the "-ly" suffix on an adverb
Problem: Which is correct -- "The quick fox ran quick/quickly"?

Rule: If the word describes an action (a verb) in the sentence, add "-ly".

The quick mental question I ask always myself is 'does the word we are thinking of adding "-ly" to answer HOW"? If so, this means we are describing an action/verb and that "-ly" must be added onto the word.
So for "The quick fox ran ???", I immediately think if "???" is answering 'how', as in "The quick fox ran HOW"? Quick(ly)? So yes, quick(ly) is answering 'how' the fox ran, so "-ly" must be added.
More background: When you have a word ("quick") describing a noun (we call that word an 'adjective'). But when you want to use a word to describe a verb (so an adverb), the rule is that you add "-ly" to the word. So, with "quick fox", "quick" describes the fox (a noun), so no "-ly". However, with "ran quick(ly)", "quick" describes "ran" (a verb), so "-ly" must be used.

"bring" vs "take"
Rule: When to use "bring" or "take" is always determined from the perspective of the person speaking:
  • Bring means movement towards the speaker (of something the speaker does not have)
  • Take means movement away from the speaker (of something the speaker has), or remote movement (between two places away from the speaker)
The reason this can be so incredibly confusing is that perspective (of the person speaking) matters. For example, from your perspective, your children will bring their homework home from school and take it back tomorrow, but from your children's perspective (who are in/at school), they will take their homework home, and then bring it back tomorrow.

Another reason this can be so incredibly confusing for some is that other non-English languages may use 'different' rules for the bring/take concepts. A Dutch example

"lose" vs "loose"
"Lose" is a verb, meaning either 'misplaced' or 'did not win'. It rhymes with "booze".

"Loose" is an adjective (meaning 'not tight') or a verb (meaning 'set free'). It rhymes with "moose".

TIP: To help remember which word means what, just on-the-fly recall:
  • the "loose as a goose" idiom (meaning very calm and relaxed), where "loose" and "goose" rhyme and are just one letter apart.

  • which word is just one letter away from "lost" or "loss" and then also has those meanings (answer: lose)

"who" vs "whom"
Rule: Replace who/whom with he/they or him/them. Which one sounds correct? If "he" or "they" sounds correct, then "who" is the correct choice. If "him" or "them" sounds correct, then "whom" is the correct choice.

"affect" vs "effect"
Rule: There are exceptions to the rule (that I will not get into here), but if you want to be right most of the time, when used as a verb, use "affect" and when used as a noun, use "effect'.

"a lot", not "alot"
Rule: "alot" is not a word meaning "a lot". Instead, there must be a space, as in "a lot".

Contact Jerry Jongerius
I have tried my best to provide basic/simple rules for fixing some common grammar mistakes.

But, did you find an error, a typo, or have a suggestion on how to improve this paper? Did this paper help you? Do you disagree with any recommendation? Let me know...

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