The Elysian Muse

Grammar and Proper Usage

An Important Opening Remark


If you're iffy on your grammar (and your free Grammarly account just isn't cutting it for you), the Elysian Muse Editorial team is always free to proofread work and give constructive feedback. We can help you prepare manuscripts, cover letters, as well as your creative writing. Just shoot us an email us at for publishing advice and free critiques. We're always looking to help young creators in any way we can!


That being said, if you don't find the answers you're looking for on this page, feel free to send us your question.



General Grammar Advice


When it comes to grammar, especially in the English language, there are some basics you should know before diving into writing your novel. Below are some articles written by the editorial staff that can help you out:


3a) Editing Jobs Defined: What Editors, Copyeditors, and Proofreaders Do


3b) The Purist Debate And The English Language


3c) Standard vs. Nonstandard Phrases And Words With More Than One Spelling


3d) Perfecting Your Personal Proofreading


3e) Keeping Your Reader Happy: Grammar Mistakes That Drive Readers Nuts


3f) Manuscript Proofreading and Formatting


3g) How To Choose A Freelance Editor For Your Writing


3i) When to Italacize


3j) 10 Grammar Rules You Can Break—And Maybe Should!



An Anatomy Class on Sentences


How exactly do sentences work? What goes and what doesn't? We answer all your burning questions about syntax and design in the following articles:


3k) Agreeing To Agree: Basic Pronoun Rules


3l) Subject-Verb Agreement Made Easy


3m) Pronouns And Antecedents


3n) The Scoop On Sentence Fragments


3o) Fragments And Run-On Sentences: Sentence Spoilers


3p) Contraction Confusion


3q) How To (Not) Split Infinitives


3r) The Joys Of Gerunds


3s) Misplaced Modifiers


3t) Appositives: What They Are And How To Punctuate Them


3u) Was Versus Were and Other Examples of the Subjunctive Mood



Perfect Punctuation!


Do you use way too many commas? Are you just throwing in semicolons for the heck of it? Stop by here to perfect your punctuation:


3v) Deciphering Dialogue: Punctuating Characters’ Speech


3w) Further Notes On Punctuating Dialogue


3x) Punctuation And Quoted Material


3y) Character’s Thoughts: Punctuating and Formatting


3z) Apostrophes: Grammar Rules For Showing Possession


3aa) Serial Commas, Ellipses, and Em Dashes


3bb) Three Essential Semicolon Rules


3cc) Seven Fundamental Comma Rules


3dd) Punctuating Restrictive And Nonrestrictive Clauses


3ee) Hyphen Rules: Don’t Let Misused Hyphens Muddle Your Adjectives Or Your Writing


3ff) Hyphens And Tigers And Bears, Oh My!


3gg) To Cap Or Not To Cap


3ii) Harness The Power Of…The Ellipsis!


3jj) In Memoriam: The Interrobang‽


3kk) The Oxford Comma Controversy




Writing Attractive Sentences


So you understand syntax and the basic anatomy of sentences. Well, now it's time to move past the skeletal bone structure and onto the juicy meat your sentences. Help yourself to some of our articles to make your sentences that much more enticing:


3ll) Repurposing Words: Surprise Your Readers With Unusual Word Choices


3mm) Putting Verve In Your Verbs


3nn) Collective Nouns: Pairing Verbs With Difficult Nouns


3oo) Don’t Leave Your Readers Hanging: Avoiding Dangling Modifiers In Your Writing


3pp) Active And Passive Voice Sentences


3qq) Doubling Up: Constructing And Correcting Sentences With Duplicate Words


3rr) How And When To Start A Sentence With A Conjunction


3ss) I Have A Dream: 8 Heart-Stopping Rhetorical Techniques Of King’s Speech


3tt) How To Write Good


3uu) Sentence Length: The Power Of Placing Periods


3vv) Halt! How To Punctuate A…Dramatic Pause


3ww) Scare Quotes, Exclamation Points, Almost, and Plural Compounds


3xx) Verbal Gobbledygook: Editing Extra Words Out Of Your Writing



Spelling: Man's Greatest Enemy


Let's face it: Words are hard. They can be confusing and easily mixed up. Below are a few articles to help you out on commonly confused and misspelled words:


3yy) List Of Confusing Words And Homonyms


3zz) Homana-What? Homographs, Heteronyms, And Homonyms Decoded


3aaa) Spell It Right


3bbb) How Not To Confuse These Commonly Confused Words


3ccc) Tips For Recognizing And Spelling Compound Words


3ddd) When And How Should You Use i.e. & e.g. In A Sentence?


3eee) Is There Only One Place For “Only” In A Sentence?


3fff) When To Use Lie Or Lay


3ggg) “Off Of” And Like vs. As


3hhh) Email Or E-mail? Website Or Web site? Online Or On-line?


3iii) Use Or Utilize?


3jjj) It’s vs. Its And That vs. Which


3kkk) Libel Or Slander?


3lll) Biannual, biennial, or Semiannual?


3mmm) Everyday Or Every Day? One Word Or Two?


3nnn) US vs. U.S.: When To Use Periods And When To Leave Them Out


3ooo) Cannot Or Can Not? One Word Or Two?


3ppp) Open Mike Or Open Mic?


3qqq) Who Versus Whom


3rrr) Advent vs. In The Event; Uppermost vs. Uttermost


3sss) Toward Or Towards, Anyways, And We vs Us


3ttt) Titled vs. Entitled


3uuu) Three Common Grammar Mistakes: “A Lot” Or “Alot”; Abbreviating “Versus”; And When “Nor” Is Appropriate On Its Own


3vvv) The “Blond Or Blonde” And “Gray Or Grey” Debates


3www) “The Reason” Versus “The Reason Why:” Is There One Right Way?


3xxx) Regarding Regard And Regards: Using These Words Correctly


3yyy) Who or Whom: An Epic Grammar Battle Easily Resolved.


3zzz) Please Accept—Or Except—This Grammar Tip.



Style and Formatting


Some people spend hours fussing over formatting, while others slap their work on a Google Doc and call it a day. Here are some great tips on being efficient while also maintaining professionalism when it comes to literary contests and publishing opportunities. 


3aaaa) ¡Ay, Caramba! To Italicize Or Not To Italicize Non-English Words And Phrases


3bbbb) Formatting Numbers In Creative Writing


3cccc) The Use Of Gender-Neutral Language In Your Writing


3dddd) Okay, OK, Or O.K.? Do You Know Which Is Correct, Incorrect, Or Preferred?


3eeee) How To Properly Use The Terms “Ladies” And “Gentlemen” In Your Writing


3ffff) Capitalization And Degrees: When To Capitalize The Name Of Your College Or Graduate Degree


3gggg) When To Capitalize The Common Noun Names Of Family Relatives