Saturday, May 22, 2010

Announcing the Owl & Possum Help Nest

Greetings Grammophiles,

Beginning June 1st, this blog will become the new electronic home for the retiring print version of the Purdue OWL Help Nest. In the past, the Help Nest served as a forum for discussing difficult questions about grammar, style, and usage. But because the Help Nest appeared as a regular component of the monthly Purdue OWL Newsletter, it became increasingly difficult to address all of our users' questions in a timely fashion. In short, the Help Nest needs to move into the digital age.

Secondarily, the Help Nest's audience has largely been limited to newsletter subscribers. It is time for the Help Nest to expand its reach beyond what the OWL editorial team can fit into the newsletter's currently limited size and scope.
What better way to achieve both of these objectives than to move the Help Nest over to The Grammar Gang blog? Thanks to the Grammar Gang's international team of coordinators as well as its global audience, we believe the Help Nest will definitely be able to expand its reach. We also hope that the Help Nest will become more discussion-oriented and have less of a dictatorial, top-down feel (no more: this is the right answer because we said so!).

How will it all work? We invite any and all questions about grammar, style, or usage to this thread (or any other for that matter). In turn, the editorial team will select one or more questions for a more detailed biweekly "write-up." Particularly thorny questions will also be taken from the Purdue OWL's email service.

As we have noted in previous posts, we do not claim to have all the answers, and especially not the definitive right answer to grammatical dilemmas. We will, however, try to put these issues in some sort of rhetorical context. Grammar questions often do not hinge on "correct or incorrect" but rather "right time and wrong time." So the next time someone scolds you for splitting your infinitives, you can say, "Ah, yes but I read on the Help Nest that to never split infinitives is like never saying 'gonna.'" There's always an exception.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

The Owl and Possum Help Nest


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PalmBayProf said...

Which of these sentences is correct?

It is the most important decision in our life.
It is the most important decision of our life.
It is the most important decision of our lives.
It is the most important decision in our lives.

Anonymous said...

Owl and Possum? Sounds pretty odd, but also pretty cool! So people just answer your questions about grammer here, or what?

Anonymous said...

This site is awesome! I love it! It is so helpful, and full of facts, I wish I could find more sites like this!

Anonymous said...

I have a question:

Which quotation is correct:

"I love these cookies!" said Mary,"There so fresh, and gooey!"


"I love these cookies!" said Mary,"they're so fresh and gooey!"

Anonymous said...

Do you say:

a.) I kinda think this garlic is rotten.


b.) I kind of think this garlic is rotten.

Julia Miller said...

Hello Anon.
OWL is the online writing lab at Purdue University, and the possums are in Australia. We do try to answer questions, but our team is a bit depleted at the moment, and we're taking a while to answer questions, as you can see!

Julia Miller said...

I'm really glad you like the site. Another site you may like is the Englsh for Uni one, which also contains humorous videos:

Julia Miller said...

"They're" is short for "They are", so that's the right answer. If you're not sure of shortened forms like this, try and work out what the longer form would be. That often helps us to find the answer quickly.

Julia Miller said...

"Kinda" is spoken usage and "Kind of" is written, but as it's an informal way of speaking then I kinda think "kinda" is fine if you're trying to represent it in writing.

Julia Miller said...

Hello PalmBayProf
I'd probably say "It is the most important decision of our lives", but I think "in our lives" is also fine. I did a Webcorp search ( and found plenty of examples of both. If I said "in our life" that might refer to one person, (i.e. "in anyone's life") while "in our lives" would definitely refer to more than one person.

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