Raise is a transitive verb, which means that it always has an object (noun) after it.

Raise the blinds and let some light into the room. (The object of raise is blinds.)

Rise is the opposite of raise in that it is an intransitive verb. It stands alone without an object following it.

The sun rises today at 7:02 am.

The verbs are easy to distinguish in their present forms, but it can get confusing with the various tenses. Is it raised or rose? Have raised or have risen?

Here are the principle parts of raise and rise:

Raise raise raising raised (have/has) raised
Rise rise rising rose (have/has) risen

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Real is often used in place of really, most often in conversational English.

Example 1 (incorrect usage): I am real tired today.

Example 2 (correct usage): I am really tired today.

Although this error is somewhat acceptable in informal conversation, it is actually incorrect and should never be used in writing. The reason that real is incorrect when used this way is simple: Real is an adjective, and as you can see in the first example above, real is incorrectly used as an adverb. In the example, real is describing tired, which is an adjective, so the adverb really is needed to make the sentence correct.

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subject-verb agreement and subject modifiers

Can you see why the sentence below has a subject-verb agreement issue?

Everyone in the family, including the children, are going to the beach.

If it looks and sounds correct, then you probably think that children is the subject of the sentence, and because children is plural, and the verb are is plural, it must be correct, right? Yes, children is plural and it’s the noun closest to the verb, but children is NOT the subject of the sentence. Everyone is the singular subject of the sentence, and are is the plural verb, so they are not in agreement. The verb should agree with the subject, no matter what modifying words or phrases come in between. Here is another example:

One of the team members are leaving.

Again, the subject is the singular one, and although members is plural, it is the object of the prepositional phrase of the team members, and does not determine whether the sentence takes a singular or plural verb. The sentence should read:

One of the team members is leaving.

The key is to correctly identify the subject and remember to disregard any modifiers that may be located in between the subject(s) and verb(s) in the sentence.

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wait on/wait for

The phrase wait on should be used only when referring to serving someone or something.

Example 1 (correct usage): The server waited on the customers in the restaurant.

This phrase should never mistakenly be used in place of wait for.

Example 2 (incorrect usage): We waited on our guests to arrive.

Example 3 (correct usage): We waited for our guests to arrive.

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These two words must be a couple of the trickiest ones in the English language. It seems as if no speakers, and only some writers, know how to use who and whom correctly. In fact, whom doesn’t even exist in some people’s vocabularies, and it appears to be a word that is quickly disappearing from the English language. (more…)

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