Grammar Tricks [2]

Posted May 14, 2013 by Amanda Shofner in Writing / 0 Comments

Happiness for me is making grammar easy and accessible. I’ve already given you grammar tricks for its/it’s, whose/who’s, your/you’re, and I/me. Now I am BACK with a few more for you. This time we’re tackling let’s/lets, i.e./e.g., and amount/number. Are you ready? Here we go.

Let’s or lets?

Let’s is a contraction for “let us.” Lets is a verb (in 3rd person present tense). To test whether you need let’s or lets, we’ll insert “let us” into the sentence. If it makes sense, we’ll keep let’s. If it doesn’t make sense, we’ll choose lets.

Let’s go to the fair! –> Let us go to the fair –> Good sentence.

StatCounter let’s you track your stats –> StatCounter let us you track your stats –> Bad sentence –> StatCounter lets you track your stats.



i.e. or e.g.?

Both of these are derived from Latin. I’ll make this very simple. (If you want a detailed explanation, you can learn what the Latin terms mean) i.e. means “that is.” Use i.e. when you’re rephrasing or defining something. e.g. means “for example.” Use e.g. when you want to provide examples of whatever you’re explaining.

So how can you be sure to use the right one? Swap in the English equivalent. If you’re giving examples, you need e.g. If you’re giving a definition, you need i.e.

Our solar system has many planets (e.g., Mercury, Earth, Jupiter) –> Our solar system has many planets–Mercury, Earth, and Jupiter, for example.

Students who study abroad typically go through a period of adjustment (i.e., culture shock). –> Students who study abroad typically go through a period of adjustment–that is, culture shock.


Amount or number?

Even a little mistake can have a big impact on your writing. Mixing up amount and number is one of those little mistakes–it’s like saying, “Too many information” or “Too much books.” We use amount for non-count nouns, meaning words that don’t have a plural form. Information is one such example–we don’t say informations. Number is used for count nouns, or words that do have plural forms. If you can count–one book, two books, three books–that word is a count noun.

So how can you know when to use amount or number?

1. Decide what you’re describing.
2. Decide if that word can be pluralized.
3. If the word can be plural, number. If not, amount.

The amount of time I spent on social media varies every week. –> 1. I’m describing time. 2. Time cannot be pluralized. 3. I need amount.

It was shocking to see the number of books she owns. –> 1. I’m describing books. 2. Books can be pluralized (it already is). 3. I need number.


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