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Department of English Grammar

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Are band names singular or plural?

Simply put, in American English, we treat band names in the same way we treat regular nouns:

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  • NOTE: In British English, band names (irrespective of whether they’re singular or plural nouns) are followed by the plural form of verbs (e.g., are, play, sing, etc.). For instance, “Radiohead are my favorite band” would be correct.

What’s up with “who” and “whom”?

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  • Although some people (including teachers) claim that “whom” is no longer relevant (i.e., no one uses it, and no one knows how to use it properly), standardized exams include questions that test whether you know the difference between the two!
  • If this is still confusing to you, rephrase your sentence to avoid the entire who vs. whom problem.

What’s up with “ibid.”?

Ibid., also known as ib., comes from ibidem (Latin for “in the same place”).

Ibid. is used in footnotes and bibliographies to refer to the book, chapter, article, or page cited just before.

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Writing term papers is hard enough. Use ibid. to make doing footnotes and bibliographies less burdensome.

Right, Doctor?

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What’s up with “between” and “among”?

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This is a tricky topic.

Let’s start with the easiest part:

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  • Between you and me, I am both taller and smarter.
  • John, please keep this secret just between us; no one else needs to know that I still wet the bed.

So far, so good? Let’s now take a look at “among”:

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There is one more difference between “between" and "among”:

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(In case you’re wondering, among = amongst.)

It would be nice if we could end this post right here. Unfortunately, we would be remiss to not mention this one last point:

On standardized tests, especially the SAT, “between" is used for only TWO people or things; for THREE OR MORE people or things, you are expected to use “among.” No exceptions. This contradicts what we mentioned at the top of this post, but that’s how it is. Standardized tests are incredibly prescriptivist.

But that’s OK: as long as you know what they want, it makes your job easy. Right?

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What’s up with “into,” “in to,” “onto,” “on to,” and “unto”?

Let’s begin with “in to" vs. "into”:

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Before this adorable little pig turns into bacon, let’s enjoy this cute GIF.

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Here is the difference between “onto" and "on to”:

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On to" is similar to "in to”: “on" is an adverb and “to" is a preposition. It often appears in idiomatic and casual expressions:

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Lastly, “unto” is an old, now rarely used, preposition that can basically be replaced by “to" or "until.”

One of the most famous sentences that uses unto is what is commonly known as the Golden Rule:

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The Golden Rule uses “unto” in place of “to.”

Here is an example of “unto” in lieu of “until”:

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Unto death” (until death) is one of the most common phrases in which “unto” is used.

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