How To Add a 240V Electrical Circuit to Your Breaker Panel

The article is based on this YouTube video. These instructions are similar for adding 120 V circuits as well.

When you open the panel door, verify that you have empty slots to put a one-pole (120 V) or two-pole (240V) circuit breaker. If you don’t, you may need to upgrade your panel to a larger one.

Unscrew the screws and remove the panel cover.

You will usually see two large cables coming into the box.

  • One black wire = + 120
  • Other black wire = – 120
  • Voltage diff between the two = 240

The 2 black wires go into a main breaker.

In this example, the main breaker supports 125 amps.

The electricity then goes into the two left and right rails. Usually you’ll have some 120 V / 15 A circuit breakers for general power, 120 V / 20 A circuit breakers for kitchen and bathroom power, and 240 V / 20 A double circuit breakers for an electric dryer.

Electricity flows from the rail through the circuit breaker through the wire.

Everything in the box is hot until you turn off the main breaker. Once you turn off the main breaker, only the 2 black wires and the terminals they are connected to are still hot.

Parts Needed

Halex 3/4 in. Non-Metallic (NM) Twin-Screw Clamp Connectors (5-Pack)

Southwire (By-the-Foot) 6/3 Stranded Romex SIMpull CU NM-B W/G Wire

The max amperage that this cable supports is 55 amps.

50 Amp 2-Pole Circuit Breaker

Find the right kind that fits your circuit breaker box. My breaker box brand is Challenger. From the time when Challenger went out of business in the 90s, they were bought by different companies until Eaton/Cutler-Hammer finally got a hold of them. So, in my case, I can buy Eaton BR/C breakers.

The amperage of the circuit breaker must be less than or equal to the max amperage of the cable connected to it to prevent the cable from melting and causing a fire.

2-Gang 4 in. Square New Work Electrical Wall Box

Buy a deep box to accommodate the depth of the receptacle and have space for the 4 wires.

Legrand Pass & Seymour 50 Amp 125/250-Volt NEMA 14-50R Flush Mount Range/Dryer/EV Charger Power Outlet

The outlet will go in the middle of the electrical box.

Leviton White 2-Gang Single Outlet Wall Plate (1-Pack)

Decide where you want the new cable to come into the breaker box and punch out a hole at that location.

You can use a hammer to push the cable clamp into the hole you just made.

If you will run your cable behind the wall, make a hole in each stud using a ¾” spade bit for the cable to go through.

If you will run your cable on the wall, you can run it through metallic or non-metallic PVC (rigid and flexible)  electrical conduit.

JM eagle 3/4 in. x 10 ft. PVC Schedule 40 Conduit

You can then connect the cable to a surface-mount NEMA 14-50R power outlet.

Leviton 50 Amp Single Surface Mounted Single Outlet, Black

Run the cable through the stud and into the breaker box.

The cable can be hard to cut. If you can’t cut it with scissors or snips, you can use an angle grinder.

For ease of work, feed the thick wire into the electrical box before attaching box to stud.

Strip the wires in the cable.

Attach the wires to the outlet. The red and black hot wires are interchangeable.

And screw the outlet to the box.

Strip the wires on the other end of the cable. Make sure the main circuit breaker is off.

  1. Connect the white (neutral) wire to the neutral bar.
  2. Connect the bare copper (ground) wire to the ground bar.
  3. Connect the two hot (red and black) wires to the 240V circuit breaker.
  4. Insert the circuit breaker.
  5. Turn on the main breaker and then turn on the new 240 V circuit breaker.
  6. Test voltage
  7. Hot (red) to hot (black) should be about 240 V.
  • Hot (red) to neutral should be about 120 V.
  • Hot (black) to neutral should also be about 120 V.

Do the same voltage test at the receptacle.

You can buy this EV charger cable on Amazon for $330.

Morec EV Charger 32 Amp NEMA14-50 SAE J1772 ev Charging Cable Level 2 Portable Electric Vehicle Charger 220V-240V 26ft (7.9M), Compatible with Most Electric Vehicle Cars

Seoul, South Korea: Attractions, Food and More

This is not a complete list of tourist places and popular Korean food. It’s just a list of places that I think may be worth visiting and a few other relevant things.

Korean Air

  • Website
  • As of December 30, 2021, all travelers, including fully vaccinated travelers, must submit a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours of departure in order to board flights to the US. Learn more.
  • As of March 2, 2022, foreigners must submit a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours of departure in order to board flights to Korea. Read consular notice.
  • Starting from April 1, 2022, vaccinated travelers who have completed vaccination overseas AND register their vaccination history through the Quarantine COVID19 Defence (Q-Code) system BEFORE traveling to Korea will be eligible for quarantine exemption. Vaccination is considered to be complete 14 days after the 2nd shot for a two-dose vaccine (valid up to 180 days) or with booster shots. Read consular notice.

Seoul, South Korea

Incheon Airport

Tourist Cards

  • Website
  • Buy 7-day MPass (Metropolitan Pass) card for $53
  • Purchase locations:
    • Incheon Airport Tourist Information Center: 1F, Passenger Terminal 1 in front of Gates 5 & 10 / 7 AM-10 PM
    • Myeong-dong Tourist Information Center: In front of Euljiro 1(il)-ga Station (Seoul Subway Line 2), Exit 5 / 09:00-20:00, Closed on the day of Seollal (Lunar New Year’s Day) & Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving Day)
    • Seoul Station Tmoney Town : 1F, Seoul City Tower near Seoul Station (Seoul Subway Line 1, 4, AREX), Exit 10 / Weekdays 09:00-18:00
  • There is a $4.11 deposit. Get deposit refund (minus $0.41 for the cost of the card) at the Tourist Information Center at the airport before leaving Korea.
  • MPass can be used on subway lines, airport railroad all-stop train, Seoul city buses (mainline buses, branch buses, circulation buses, village buses, night buses)
  • The pass offers 20 rides a day for the duration of the pass. 


When choosing a hotel, if you want to be close to

  • many attractions
  • easy subway transportation with direct connection to the airport
  • tons of food options
  • tons of shopping options

you probably want to stay around the Myeong-dong area.

ibis Ambassador Seoul Myeongdong

KTO Tourist Information Center

Modern, High-Tech Seoul

Meerkat Cafe Seoul

Lotte World

  • World’s largest indoor theme park
  • Website
  • Hours: 9:30AM–11PM except Sundays
  • Admission: $50

Lotte World Aquarium

  • Website
  • Hours: 10AM–8PM except Sundays
  • Admission: $28

Lotte World Mall & Tower

  • Seoul’s largest shopping mall
  • Google Maps
  • Mall Hours: 10:30AM–10PM
  • Tower Hours: 24 hours

Seoul Sky

  • The Seoul Sky Observatory is located at the top of the Lotte World Tower, the world’s fifth tallest building standing 123 stories and 555 meters high. As the tallest building in South Korea, it is the only place where you can take in a gorgeous 360-degree view of Seoul, the capital city of South Korea roaring with brilliant history and dynamic modern culture.
  • Google Maps
  • Website
  • Seoul Sky Hours: 10:30AM–10PM
  • Skybridge Website
  • Skybridge Tour Hours: See timeslots (closed in winter from Dec 13 to March 31)
  • Skybridge Admission: $67 – $93
Skybridge Tour

Dongdaemun Design Plaza

The War Memorial of Korea

Seodaemun Prison History Museum

Seoul City Hall

Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market

Seoullo 7017

Namdaemun Market

  • It is the oldest and largest market in Korea.
  • Website
  • Google Maps
  • Hours: varies by store. Closed on Sundays.


N Seoul Tower & Namsan

Seoul Grand Park & Skylift

  • Seoul Grand Park is a park complex to the south of Seoul, South Korea, in the city of Gwacheon. Facilities at Seoul Grand Park include hills and hiking trails, Seoul Grand Park Zoo, Children’s Zoo, a rose garden, Seoul Land amusement park, and the Seoul Museum of Modern Art.
  • Website
  • Google Maps
  • Hours: 9AM-6PM (March~April,September~October)
  • Admission:
    • Zoo: $4
    • Theme Garden: $2
    • Skylift: $5
  • Skylift Website
  • Skylift 1 (outside the zoo): 10 minute ride
  • Skylift 2 (inside the zoo): 15 minute ride


  • Course 1: Cheonggye Plaza to Dongdaemun: 2.7 Km (about 2 hours)
  • Course 2: Cheonggyecheon Museum to Dongdaemun: 2.6 Km (about 2.5 hours)



DMZ Tour by Tour Agency


DMZ Tour by Train

  • Website
  • Take the DMZ Peace Train from Seoul to Dorasan.
  • Choose the Dorasan Security Tour.
  • Tour package is available from the KORAIL Travel Center at each departure station
  • Foreigners can purchase train tickets from Yongsan Station to Dorasan Station online, but will have to register for the Dorasan Security Tour at Dorasan Station if they wish to travel further.
  • Operating days: Wednesday-Sunday, once a day / No trains Monday-Tuesday
  • Train Tickets and Times
  • Ticket Price: $30
  • Tour schedule: 
    1. Depart from Yongsan Station (10:08) – Seoul Station (10:15) –
    2. Arrive at Imjingang Station (11:24) –
    3. Complete identity check (11:32) –
    4. Arrive at Dorasan Station (Google Maps) and board connecting bus (11:43) –
    5. Dorasan Peace Park (12:10) –
    6. Lunch break at Tongilchon (Unification Village) (13:00) – 
    7. Dora Observatory (Google Maps) (14:00) – 
    8. The 3rd Tunnel (Google Maps) (14:40) –
    9. Tour Unification Platform (15:50) –
    10. Depart from Dorasan Station (16:27) – Seoul Station (17:47) –
    11. Arrive at Yongsan Station (17:54)

Dora Observatory

Look at North Korea from South Korea

DMZ The 3rd Infiltration Tunnel


Panmunjeom / DMZ Joint Security Area

Lotus Lantern Festival in May

Haewoojae Museum (Mr. Toilet House) (해우재)

Seoul Hop-On Hop-Off Bus

Songdo International City

  • Wikipedia
  • Google Maps
  • Tour
  • Highlights:
    • Songdo Central Park
    • G-tower for panoramic views of Songdo city
    • Canal walk and NC CUBE shopping center


It’s where all the foreigners hang out at night.


It’s like Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.

Myeongdong Street Food

  • Google Maps
  • Hours: 9AM-9PM
  • On Saturdays and Sundays, there are many more street food vendors at night.

Food to try at Myeongdong

Korean Stir-Fried Noodles
Baked Cheese – Ice Cream Waffles
Tornado Potato
Fried Chicken
Omelette Burger
Grilled Lobster
Omelette Pancake
Banana Pancake
Teokgalbi Meatballs

Gyeyeolsa Fried Chicken

Casablanca Sandwicherie

Passion 5 Bakery


HBC Gogitjib 이태원더고깃집(구HBC고깃집)

Downtowner Cheongdam 다운타우너 청담점

Linus’ BBQ

  • Beef brisket
  • Google Maps
  • Hours: Weekdays: 12-3PM, 5-9PM, Weekends: 12-9PM

Gino’s NY Pizza

Gwangjang Market

  • A traditional street market in Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea. The market is one of the oldest and largest traditional markets in South Korea, with more than 5000 shops and 20,000 employees in an area of 42,000 square meters.
  • Website
  • Official Website
  • Google Maps
  • Hours: 10AM-11PM

Jilhal Bros

Hongdae Free Market

Hyundai Department Store | D-Cube City

Seoul Public Bike

  • Official Website
  • Government Website
  • Rent a bike to tour the Cheonggyecheon
  • Pick up and drop off at any Bike Seoul location
  • 1 hour – $0.82
  • 2 hours – $1.64
  • All day – $4.11
  • $0.82 for every additional 30 minutes

Dongdaemun Market

Seoul Folk Flea Market

Starfield COEX Mall

Flying Suwon

Everland Resort

Caribbean Bay

Yeontabal BBQ Restaurant

  • Address: 1317-16 Seocho-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul, South Korea
  • Google Maps
  • Nearest Subway Station: Gangnam
  • Operating Hours: 11:30AM-10PM, daily
  • What to Order: Grilled king beef ribs
  • Expect to Pay: Around $33-$38 per person

빈대떡 (Bindae-tteok: Mung bean pancake)


호떡 (Hotteok: Korean Sweet Pancakes)

Hottoek is a Korean-styled pancake. One of the most popular Korean street snacks, it is made from a simple flour batter and filled with sweet syrup made from cinnamon, brown sugar, and peanuts. It’s a great snack when you’re between meals.


팥빙수 (Patbingsu: Shaved Ice with Sweet Rea Beans)

Pat Bingsu – Bingsu with red beans


화전 (Hwajeon: Pan-fried Sweet Rice Cakes with Flower Petals)


찐빵 (Jjinppang: Fluffy steamed buns filled with sweet red beans)


경단 (Gyeongdan: Sweet Rice Balls)


황남빵 (Hwangnambbang: Hwangnam Bread)

Red beans are mixed with eggs and wheat dough by hand, then this artisan bread is shaped and baked without any artificial sweeteners or preservatives, keeping only the sweetness of its original natural ingredients.


호두과자 (Hodu-gwaja: Walnut Cookies)

Hodu means walnut in Korean and they are cookies filled with red bean paste and walnuts.

허니 브래드 (Honey Bread)

Thick bread is divided into nine parts filled with whipped cream and then topped with honey, caramel syrup, and cinnamon powder. Its original name was Honey Butter Bread.

계란빵 (Gyeran-ppang: Egg Bread)

has a shape of rounded rectangle and contains whole egg inside of a bread. They are often sold by street vendors.

꽈배기 (Kkwabaegi: Twisted Korean Doughnuts)

It is made with glutinous rice flour and melted butter. The dough is deep-fried in oil and tossed in sugar and cinnamon powder. Like most fried breads, it tastes better when it’s hot. You can enjoy the original taste of twisted bread by eating when it just comes out of the oil, or by heating them up. 

뚱카롱 (Ddungcaron: Fat Macaron)

Rice Punch 식혜 (Korean Sweet Rice Drink)

Songpyeon half-moon rice cake (송편)

The fillings for these rice cakes vary, but the most common are sweetened sesame seeds and mung beans.


Chapssaltteok (Korean style mochi)

Filled with sweet red beans

Korean dalgona coffee

Pat-sirutteok 팥시루떡 (Layered rice cake with red beans)

율란 Yul-lan – Chestnut cookies

무지개떡 Mujigae-tteok (Rainbow rice cake)

불고기 Beef Bulgogi

Thinly sliced or shredded beef marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, sugar, scallions, and black pepper, cooked on a grill (sometimes at the table). Bulgogi literally means “fire meat.” Variations include pork (dwaeji bulgogi, 돼지불고기), chicken (dak bulgogi 닭불고기), or squid (ojingeo bulgogi, 오징어불고기).

Galbi (갈비) – pork or beef ribs

Cooked on a metal plate over charcoal in the centre of the table. The meat is sliced thicker than bulgogi. It is often called “Korean barbecue” along with bulgogi, and can be seasoned or unseasoned.

Dak galbi (닭갈비)

Stir-fry marinated diced chicken in a gochujang-based sauce, and sliced cabbage, sweet potato, scallions, onions and tteok.

Dubujeon (두부전)

Steamed tofu mixed with ground beef and vegetables.

Bungeoppang (붕어빵; “carp-bread”)

is the Korean name for the Japanese fish-shaped pastry Taiyaki that is usually filled with sweet red bean paste and then baked in a fish-shaped mold. It is very chewy on the inside and crispy on the outside.

Gukwa-ppang (국화빵)

is almost the same as bungeoppang, but it is shaped like a flower.

Places Not in Seoul

As a bonus, here are a few places in Korea outside of Seoul.

Lotte Waterpark

Free Topic-Based Communication Tool for Small Groups Like HOAs

I’ve used many enterprise-level productivity tools like Atlassian Jira, Confluence (Wiki), Microsoft Teams, Asana, and, of course, email. Asana seems to be the best for managing large projects that have multiple tasks and deadlines. Microsoft Teams is great for having discussions separated by topic and sharing documents related to each discussion. As the president of an HOA (Homeowner’s Association) that pays an experienced property manager, it’s interesting that we’re still communicating by email because so often we’d have a hard time finding specific information and documents. Microsoft Teams would be a big improvement but the free version doesn’t come with some useful features available in the paid version. Of all the tools I’ve used, it looks like Slack fits the bill because 1) there is no bill (pun intended – there’s a free version) and 2) it comes with features similar to the ones in the paid version of Microsoft Teams. This post will explain some of Slack’s features that could be beneficial for small groups like an HOA.

Separate Discussions By Topic

One of the problems with a simple chat tool is different topics get lost in one super long chat. At my HOA, we have different topics to talk about, e.g. landscaping, security cameras, parking, etc. With Slack, you can create multiple channels to represent these topics. Each channel is a separate chat discussion as you can see in the screenshot below.

In the screenshot above, you can see:

  • Group Name: Antoine Ct Landlords
  • Channels: These are discussion topics:
    • landscaping-cleaning
    • security-cameras
    • vehicles-and-parking
  • Direct messages: this shows you who is in the group and allows you to send a message directly to one specific person
  • Apps: you can see the list of apps you’ve integrated with Slack such as a polling app

In the screenshot above, the chat in view is the one for the landscaping-cleaning channel.


Slack allows you to integrate many apps for a seamless experience. Below are some of the apps you can integrate.

One thing we often do as an HOA is conduct polls. You can add a polling app and then create a poll in a channel. For example, I added the Simple Poll app and created a poll in the landscaping-cleaning channel. In the screenshot below, the simple poll asks if everyone wants to hire one landscaper for all units and split the cost. The answer options are simply yes and no.

Of course, if there is too much chatter, the poll can get buried in the history of chat messages. If that happens, you can pin the poll to the top. It then shows up in the bar at the top of the channel like this:

Chatting is useful, but eventually you’re going to need other productivity tools like documents, spreadsheets, presentations, etc. In the chat field, you can click the + button to insert things other than text, e.g. create a post.

A post in Slack is like a Google or Word doc.

If you prefer to use a different tool like Google Docs, you can link the Google Doc to your Slack channel. Just copy the Google Doc share URL and paste it into the chat and, optionally, pin it to the top as I did for the poll example above. Or, you can create folders in the bar at the top of the channel to organize documents and chat messages. In the screenshot below, I clicked the + button to add two folders: Documents and Photos.

I then hovered over the Documents folder link and clicked Add to bookmark to add links to external resources:

  • Test Document 1 (link to a shared Google Doc)
  • Association Website (link to a WordPress site)

Multiple Teams

If you are part of multiple groups or teams of people, you can create a separate Slack group (called Workspaces). In the screenshot below of the Slack homepage, I see the workspace for the example HOA group mentioned above called “Antoine Ct Landlords”. There is also a button to create a new workspace.

If you are part of a small (or large) group of people and need to discuss many topics and don’t want to pay a monthly fee, you may want to give Slack a try.

Calculate Frequency of Unique Values in Google Sheets

I’m often finding myself needing to calculate the frequency of unique values in a spreadsheet. It turns out it’s a 2-step process. For example, if you have a column of data as shown below and you want to know how many times the numbers 1, 2, and 3 occur, you need to first add a column containing the unique values in column 1. Then, you can use the frequency function to calculate frequency.

1. Get Unique Values

In column 2, get the unique values in column one using the unique function:


If you want, you can also sort the values as follows.


2. Get Value Frequency

In column 3, get the value frequency using the frequency function. The data is in column 1 and the classes are in column 2.

FREQUENCY(data, classes)


Google Sheets seems to want to add an extra row with the value 0. I just ignore that.

Should You Invest in the Stock Market?

I haven’t invested in the stock market because of its volatility and because no one I know seems to know what they are doing or have made lots of money doing it. Maybe I’m around the wrong people. I invest in real estate for the reasons listed here. If we look at a graph of house prices in the US, their values have always gone up despite occasional dips. That’s the kind of graph you want to see.

House price index for California from 1975 to 2021

Though you can make a lot of money investing in real estate, you can make even more if you invest early in certain stocks. The problem is in knowing which stocks to invest in.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a professional stock market investor. At the time of this writing, the only stocks I own are the ones given to me by my employer. This article is just my personal opinion at the time of this writing.

Investing in Index Funds

Warren Buffett, known as the “Oracle of Omaha,” is an American businessman and philanthropist, widely considered the most successful investor of the 20th century. He has amassed a personal fortune of more than $60 billion by defying prevailing investment trends. Instead of stock picking, Buffett suggested investing in a low-cost index fund. “I recommend the S&P 500 index fund,” Buffett said, which holds 500 of the largest companies in the U.S., “and have for a long, long time to people.” … “I just think that the best thing to do is buy 90% in S&P 500 index fund.” He specifically identifies Vanguard’s S&P 500 index fund. Vanguard offers both a mutual fund (VFIAX) and ETF (VOO) version of this fund. He recommends the other 10% of the portfolio go to a low-cost index fund that invests in U.S. short-term government bonds. Below are stock charts for VFIAX and VOO.


As you can see, both have an overall consistent upward trend. If you invested in each one 10 years ago, in 2012, you could have quadrupled your investment. Twelve years ago, one share of each was about $100. And now, each is around $400. But, if you only bought 1 share, then you would have only made $300 in 12 years. What if you invest $10,000 at the time. Then, you would have made $30,000 in 12 years. Or, instead of putting 20% down on a $400K house, you put $100K in one of these funds. Then in 12 years, you would have made $300K. Though that’s not bad, you would make more in real estate, especially if you include rental income, but then again, owning rental properties is not 100% passive. Nevertheless, if you don’t want to or can’t invest in real estate, then investing in one of these funds over the long term appears to be a safe bet.

Stock Picking

If you want to pick stocks, you obviously want to pick ones that have the potential to grow fast. Tech companies seem to get more publicity for many reasons such as everyone’s familiarity with them and their potential to change the way we live. For example, there was a ton of publicity before and during Facebook’s IPO. Everyone knew what Facebook was at the time. Facebook went public on May 18, 2012, and shares closed the first day of trading at $38.23. Now, the value is $228. That’s a 6x increase in 10 years. When you invest in stocks, the general advice is you shouldn’t invest more than you can feel comfortable losing. At the time, I probably wouldn’t have minded losing $1000. Had I invested $1K in FB, the investment would be worth about $6K now (10 years later) for a $5K profit. That’s still a very petty profit. If I had $50K, which is about the cost of a down payment on a $250K house at the time, then the investment would be worth $300K now for a $250K profit. While that is a good profit, there’s no way I would have invested $50K in FB at the time because I would not have felt comfortable losing it all. With real estate investing, however, it’s so much safer and predictable that one need not worry about their losing their investment. Plus, had I invested $50K in real estate instead of FB, I would still have made a profit of $250K or more in the same period.

Following are stock price graphs of some of the biggest and most popular tech companies along with how much you could have made if 10 years ago you had invested $1000 in each.

  • IPO date: May 18, 2012
  • Opening price: $38
  • Price in 2012: ~38
  • Price in 2022: ~ $300
  • Price increase factor: 7.9x
  • Profit from $1K investment: $6900
Microsoft (MSFT)
  • IPO date: March 13, 1986
  • Opening price: $21
  • Price in 2012: ~50
  • Price in 2022: ~ $320
  • Price increase factor: 6.4x
  • Profit from $1K investment: $6400
Apple (AAPL)
  • IPO date: December 12, 1980
  • Opening price: $22
  • Price in 2012: ~25
  • Price in 2022: ~ $155
  • Price increase factor: 6.2x
  • Profit from $1K investment: $6200
Amazon (AMZN)
  • IPO date: May 15, 1997
  • Opening price: $18
  • Price in 2012: ~200
  • Price in 2022: ~ $3200
  • Price increase factor: 16x
  • Profit from $1K investment: $15000
Alphabet (GOOG)
  • IPO date: May 15, 1997
  • Opening price: $18
  • Price in 2012: ~200
  • Price in 2022: ~ $3200
  • Price increase factor: 16x
  • Profit from $1K investment: $15000
Alibaba (BABA)
  • IPO date: Sept. 14, 2014
  • Opening price: $68
  • Price in 2022: ~ $125
  • Price increase factor: 1.8x
  • Profit from $1K investment: $800
Netflix (NFLX)
  • IPO date: May 23, 2002
  • Opening price: $15
  • Price in 2012: ~15
  • Price in 2022: ~ $400
  • Price increase factor: 26x
  • Profit from $1K investment: $25000

Disruptive Technologies

Disruptive technologies also have a large potential for a huge gain. Everyone has heard of Tesla, the automaker that has proven that electric vehicles can replace gas vehicles. Then there’s Bitcoin which revolutionizes money.

Tesla (TSLA)
  • IPO date: June 29, 2010
  • Opening price: $3.84
  • Price in 2012: ~6
  • Price in 2022: ~ $1000
  • Price increase factor: 166x
  • Profit from $1K investment: $165000
Bitcoin (BTC)
  • Price in 2012: ~$320
  • Price in 2022: ~ $43000
  • Price increase factor: 134x
  • Profit from $1K investment: $132000


Based on the analysis above, if you are going to hold on to popular tech stocks for the long term, e.g. 10 years, then you’re probably safe in that you won’t lose money and will likely profit. Of course, how much you profit will depend a lot on how much you invest and luck. One pattern to note is the performance of disruptive tech (electric cars, cryptocurrency) which realized the biggest gains. Considering the above, I think a safe and good investment diversification strategy, if you are comfortable managing rental properties, is

  • 75% real estate
  • 5% S&P 500 index fund – mutual fund (VFIAX) and/or ETF (VOO)
  • 15% disruptive tech
  • 5% big tech

Common English Grammar and Punctuation Mistakes


Table of Contents






Adjectives are words that describe the qualities or states of being of nouns: enormous, doglike, silly, yellow, fun, fast. They can also describe the quantity of nouns: many, few, millions, eleven.

Often, when adjectives are used together, you should separate them with a comma or conjunction. 

Please use three, white flowers in the arrangement.
Please use three white flowers in the arrangement.
I’m looking for a small good-tempered dog to keep as a pet.
I’m looking for a small, good-tempered dog to keep as a pet.

Coordinate adjectives

Coordinate adjectives should be separated by a comma or the word and. Adjectives are said to be coordinate if they modify the same noun in a sentence.

No one could open the old, silver locket.
Wrong because silver locket forms a unit modified by old.
No one could open the old silver locket.

Adjectives vs. adverbs

I feel badly about what happened.
I feel bad about what happened.

Use adjectives only if they are necessary, e.g.

  • big house vs mansion
  • large crowd vs throng
  • mixed-breed dog vs mutt


An adverb is a word that modifies (describes) a verb (he sings loudly), an adjective (very tall), another adverb (ended too quickly), or even a whole sentence (Fortunately, I had brought an umbrella). Adverbs often end in -ly, but some (such as fast) look exactly the same as their adjective counterparts.

That is a hastily, written note.
That is a hastily-written note.
That is a hastily written note.

Placement of adverbs

Place adverbs as close as possible to the words they are supposed to modify. Incorrect placement can change the meaning of the sentence, especially when it comes to the adverb only.

  • Phillip only fed the cat.
    (The only thing that Phillip did was feed the cat)
  • Phillip fed only the cat.
    (The only thing that Phillip fed was the cat)


Articles are words that define a noun as specific or unspecific. 

The definite article is the word the. It limits the meaning of a noun to one particular thing, e.g. Please give me the hammer.

The indefinite article takes two forms. It’s the word a when

  • it precedes a word that begins with a consonant.
  • it precedes a word that sounds like it begins with a consonant
She is an United States senator.
She is a United States senator.

It’s the word an when

  • it precedes a word that begins with a vowel
  • if it precedes a word that sounds like it begins with a vowel.
My mother is a honest woman.
My mother is an honest woman.

The indefinite article indicates that a noun refers to a general idea rather than a particular thing, e.g. Please give me a hammer.

The rules above also apply to acronyms and initialisms, e.g. an LCD display, a UK-based company, an HR department, a URL.


Conjunctions are words that link other words, phrases, or clauses together, e.g.

I like cooking and eating, but I don’t like washing dishes afterward. Sophie is clearly exhausted, yet she insists on dancing till dawn.

The most common coordinating conjunctions are for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so; you can remember them by using the mnemonic device FANBOYS. Commas are used when a coordinating conjunction is joining two independent clauses.

I’d like pizza or a salad for lunch. We needed a place to concentrate so we packed up our things and went to the library. Jesse didn’t have much money but she got by. (missing necessary commas)
I’d like pizza or a salad for lunch. We needed a place to concentrate, so we packed up our things and went to the library. Jesse didn’t have much money, but she got by.

Subordinating Conjunctions

Subordinating conjunctions join independent and dependent clauses. 

Common subordinating conjunctions are because, since, as, although, though, while, and whereas. Sometimes an adverb, such as until, after, or before can function as a conjunction. If the dependent clause comes first, use a comma before the independent clause.

Before he leaves, make sure his room is clean.
I drank a glass of water because I was thirsty. Because I was thirsty, I drank a glass of water.


An interjection is a word that you throw in between sentences or thoughts to express a sudden feeling, e.g. Ouch! Oh my! Wow! Yikes!

Interjections in a Sentence

When used in a sentence, put the interjection inside parentheses or set it off with commas.

I forgot to do the homework assignment oops but my teacher gave me an extra day to finish it.
I forgot to do the homework assignment (oops), but my teacher gave me an extra day to finish it.
Gee I hadn’t thought of that.
Gee, I hadn’t thought of that.


A noun is a word that names something, such as a person, place, thing, or idea. 

Proper nouns vs. common nouns

A proper noun is a specific name of a person, place, or thing, and is always capitalized.

Does tina have much homework to do this evening?
Does Tina have much homework to do this evening?
I would like to visit new york.
I would like to visit New York.

A common noun is the generic name of an item in a class or group and is not capitalized unless appearing at the beginning of a sentence or in a title.


Prepositions indicate relationships between other words in a sentence.

Ending a Sentence With a Preposition

You are allowed to end a sentence with a preposition. Not doing so can result in an unnatural sentence.

There’s no one else to hide behind. (Grammatically correct and natural)
There’s no one else behind whom to hide. (Grammatically correct, but unnatural)
Where did you come from? (Grammatically correct and natural)
From where did you come? (Grammatically correct, but unnatural)

It is sometimes more elegant to move a preposition to an earlier spot in a sentence, especially in very serious and formal writing. But if you do move the preposition, remember to delete it from the end.

This is something we must meditate on.
This is something on which we must meditate.
This is something on which we must meditate on.

Unnecessary Prepositions

Where is your brother at?
Where is your brother?
For many people, the reality of an entry into a new area of employment is cause for a host of anxieties.
Changing careers makes many people anxious.
Alex hit the baseball up over the fence.
Alex hit the baseball over the fence.


Personal pronouns

Personal pronouns are pronouns that refer to specific individuals and groups, e.g. I/me, She/her, He/him, They/them, We/us, You.


Antecedents are the things that pronouns refer to, e.g. My family tests my patience, but I love them

Relative pronouns

Relative pronouns connect relative clauses to independent clauses. Relative pronouns are that, what, which, who and whom.

  • who refers to people
  • which and that refer to animals or things


  • The woman who called earlier didn’t leave a message. 
  • All the dogs that got adopted today will be loved. 
  • My carwhich is nearly twenty years old, still runs well.

Who vs. whom—subject and object pronouns

  • who is for the subject of a sentence
  • whom is for the object of a verb or preposition


  • Who mailed this package?
  • To whom was this package sent?

Demonstrative pronouns

That, this, these, and those.

Indefinite pronouns

Indefinite pronouns are used when you need to refer to a person or thing that doesn’t need to be specifically identified. Some common indefinite pronouns are one, other, none, some, anybody, everybody, and no one

Reflexive pronouns

Reflexive pronouns end in -self or -selves, e.g. myself, themselves.

Example: I saw myself in the mirror.

Using myself when you mean me is a common mistake writers and speakers make. Reflexive pronouns are only correct when the subject and object of a sentence are the same. 

Intensive pronouns

Intensive pronouns look the same as reflexive pronouns, but their purpose is different. Intensive pronouns add emphasis.

Example: told them I could do it myself.

Possessive pronouns

E.g. my, your, our.

Example: I crashed my bike into a telephone pole.

Independent possessive pronouns

E.g. mine, yours, theirs.

Example: She forgot her jacket, so I gave her mine.

Interrogative pronouns

Who, what, which, and whose. 

Example: What is your name? 

Reciprocal pronouns

Each other, one another.

Distributive pronouns

Either, Each, Neither, Any, None

Pronouns and gender identity

The most common gender-neutral pronoun is the singular they. 



Apostrophes : Contractions and Omissions

A contraction is a shortened form of a word (or group of words) that omits certain letters or sounds, e.g. He would=He’d. I have=I’ve. They are=They’re. You cannot=You can’t.

Less common contractions

  • something -> somethin’
  • ever -> e’er
  • you all -> y’all
  • 1960s -> 60’s

Apostrophes and Possessive Nouns

For most singular nouns, add apostrophe+s:

  • The dog’s leash.
  • The writer’s desk.
  • The planet’s atmosphere

For most plural nouns, add only an apostrophe:

  • The dogs’ leashes (multiple dogs).
  • The writers’ desks (multiple writers).
  • The planets’ atmospheres (multiple planets).

For plural nouns that do not end in s, add apostrophe+s:

  • The children’s toys.
  • The geese’s migration route.

Style guides vary in their recommendations of what to do when you have a singular proper noun that ends in s.

  • Charles Dickens’ novels 
  • Kansas’ main airport
  • Charles Dickens’s novels 
  • Kansas’s main airport

No matter which style guide you use, add only the apostrophe to plural proper nouns that end in s:

  • The Harrises’ house
  • The Smiths’ vacation

How to Write Joint Possession

When one thing belongs to two or more people, make only the final name possessive:

  • Bob and Jim’s bait shop (Bob and Jim co-own the same bait shop)
  • Ryan, Jessica, and Elinor’s parents (All three share the same parents)

When you’re talking about separate things that belong to different people, make all the names possessive:

  • Bob’s and Jim’s bait shops (Bob owns one bait shop and Jim owns a different one) 
  • Ryan’sJessica’s, and Elinor’s parents (Each has a different set of parents)

Apostrophes and Plurals

With very few exceptions, apostrophes do not make nouns plural. The one notable exception to this rule is the plural form of lowercase letters, which are formed with an apostrophe to prevent misreading:

Don’t forget to dot all your is.
Don’t forget to dot all your i’s.


A colon introduces an element or series of elements that illustrates or amplifies the information that preceded the colon. While a semicolon normally joins two independent clauses to signal a close connection between them, a colon does the job of directing you to the information following it. When a colon appears in a sentence, it usually gives the silent impression of “as follows,” “which is/are,” or “thus.”

  • There are three types of muscle in the body: cardiac, smooth, and skeletal.
  • We have two options here: stay and fight, or run like the wind.
  • He ended with the immortal words of Neil Young: “Rock and Roll can never die.”

Misuse of Colons

The three types of muscle in the body are: cardiac, smooth, and skeletal.
The three types of muscle in the body: cardiac, smooth, and skeletal.
When I graduate, I want to go to: Rome, Israel, and Egypt.
When I graduate, I want to go to Rome, Israel, and Egypt.


While a period ends a sentence, a comma indicates a smaller break. Some writers think of a comma as a soft pause—a punctuation mark that separates words, clauses, or ideas within a sentence.

Comma with Subjects and Verbs

With few exceptions, a comma should not separate a subject from its verb.

My friend Cleo, is a wonderful singer.
My friend Cleo is a wonderful singer.
The things that cause me joy, may also cause me pain.
The things that cause me joy may also cause me pain.
Navigating through snow, sleet, wind, and darkness, is a miserable way to travel.
Navigating through snow, sleet, wind, and darkness is a miserable way to travel.

Comma Between Two Nouns in a Compound Subject or Object

Don’t separate two nouns that appear together as a compound subject or compound object.

Cleo, and her band will be playing at Dockside Diner next Friday.
Cleo and her band will be playing at Dockside Diner next Friday.
Cleo will wear a sparkly red blazer, and high heels.
Cleo will wear a sparkly red blazer and high heels.

When a subject or object is made up of two items and the second item is parenthetical, you can set off the second item with commas—one before it and one after it. But you don’t need a comma when you’re simply listing two items.

Comma Between Two Verbs in a Compound Predicate

You get a compound predicate when the subject of a sentence is doing more than one thing. In a compound predicate that contains two verbs, don’t separate them with a comma.

Cleo will sing, and play the banjo.
Cleo will sing and play the banjo.
I meant to buy tickets for Cleo’s show, but ran out of time.
I meant to buy tickets for Cleo’s show but ran out of time.

Don’t use a comma in compound predicates unless there is a chance of misreading:

  • Cleo spotted the man who entered the diner, and waved.

In the sentence above, you need the comma to make clear that it was Cleo who waved, not the man.

Comma Splices

When you want to join two independent clauses, you need a conjunction or a semicolon. A comma alone isn’t strong enough to join them. This kind of mistake is called a comma splice.

We were out of milk, I went to the store.
We were out of milk, so I went to the store.
We were out of milk; I went to the store.
We were out of milk. I went to the store.

Comma After Introductory Phrase

A comma normally follows participial phrases that introduce a sentence:

  • Grabbing her umbrella, Kate raced out of the house. Confused by her sister’s sudden change in mood, Jill stayed quiet.

When an adverbial phrase begins a sentence, it’s often followed by a comma but it doesn’t have to be, especially if it’s short. As a rule of thumb, if the phrase is longer than about four words, use the comma. You can also use a comma with a shorter phrase when you want to emphasize it or add a pause for literary effect.

  • After the show, Cleo will be signing autographs.
  • Behind the building there is enough space to park two limousines.
  • Without knowing why, I crossed the room and looked out the window.
  • In 1816 life was very different.
  • Suddenly, an angry black cat sprang from the shadows.

But, if there is a chance of misreading the sentence, use the comma:

Before eating the family said grace.
Before eating, the family said grace.

Comma Within a Comparison

Don’t use a comma before “than” when you’re making a comparison.

This box is lighter, than that box.
This box is lighter than that box.
Hardcover books are more expensive, than paperback books.
Hardcover books are more expensive than paperback books.

Commas with Interrupters or Parenthetical Elements

Interrupters are little thoughts that pop up in the middle of a sentence to show emotion, tone, or emphasis. A parenthetical element is a phrase that adds extra information to the sentence but could be removed without changing the meaning of the sentence. Both interrupters and parenthetical elements should be set off with commas.

The weather I was happy to see was beginning to clear.
The weather, I was happy to see, was beginning to clear.
Geoff’s cooking skills if you can call them skills left something to be desired.
Geoff’s cooking skills, if you can call them skills, left something to be desired.
It was sadly the last day of camp.
It was, sadly, the last day of camp.
Mary unlike Anne is very organized.
Mary, unlike Anne, is very organized.

Comma with a Question Tag

A question tag should be preceded by a comma.

  • These willow trees are beautiful, aren’t they?
  • You didn’t actually write a 600-page vampire romance novel, did you?
  • I know, right?

Comma with Direct Address

When addressing another person by name, set off the name with commas.

  • Mom, I can’t find my shoes!
  • Cleo, there’s someone on the phone for you.
  • Hello, Chester.

Comma with an Appositive

An appositive is a word or phrase that refers to the same thing as another noun in the same sentence. Often, the appositive provides additional information about the noun or helps to distinguish it in some way. If you could remove the appositive without changing the meaning of the sentence, it is said to be nonessential and should be set off with commas. If the appositive is necessary, it’s said to be essential and it should not be set off with commas.

Nonessential appositives:

  • My sister, Angela, is a wonderful cook.
  • The painter, one of the city’s most promising young artists, began showing his work in galleries before he was sixteen.
  • Chocolate, my favorite treat, always makes me feel better after a bad day.

Essential appositives:

  • Edgar Allan Poe’s poem The Raven is a classic.
  • Alec Baldwin’s brother Stephen is the most underrated Baldwin.
  • The detective Sherlock Holmes is one of literature’s greatest sleuths.

Commas in Dates

When writing a date in month-day-year format, set off the year with commas.

  • July 4, 1776, was an important day in American history. I was born on Sunday, May 12, 1968.

If you are using the day-month-year format, however, commas are unnecessary.

  • Applications are due by 31 December 2016.

If you are referencing a day of the week and a date, use a comma:

  • On Tuesday, April 13, at three o’clock, there will be a meeting for all staff.
  • Please join us on Saturday, June 14, 2010, for the marriage of Annie and Michael.

When you are referencing only a month and year, you don’t need a comma.

  • The region experienced record rainfall in March 1999.

Comma Between Coordinate Adjectives

When multiple adjectives modify a noun to an equal degree, they are said to be coordinate and should be separated by commas. One way to tell whether the adjectives are coordinate is to try switching the order of them. If the sentence still sounds natural, the adjectives are coordinate.

  • That man is a pompous, self-righteous, annoying idiot.
  • That man is a self-righteous, annoying, pompous idiot.
  • The sweet, scintillating aroma of cinnamon buns filled the kitchen.
  • The scintillating, sweet aroma of cinnamon buns filled the kitchen.

If the adjectives are not coordinate, don’t separate them with a comma.

The adorable, little boy was eating ice cream.
The adorable little boy was eating ice cream.

Comma Before But

Use a comma before the word but if it is joining two independent clauses:

Cleo is a good singer but she’s an even better dancer.
Cleo is a good singer, but she’s an even better dancer.

If but is not joining two independent clauses, leave the comma out.

My teacher is tough, but fair.
My teacher is tough but fair.
Life is, but a dream.
Life is but a dream.

Comma Before And

When you have a list that contains only two items, don’t use a comma before the and.

My dog Charlie is cute, and smart.
My dog Charlie is cute and smart.
Cleo’s favorite activities are singing on stage, and relaxing in the sunshine.
Cleo’s favorite activities are singing on stage and relaxing in the sunshine.

When correcting a comma splice, that is when joining two independent clauses with a coordinating conjunction, put the comma before and.

Commas with Lists

When you have a list that contains more than two elements, use commas to separate them.

Julie loves ice cream books and kittens.
Julie loves ice cream, books, and kittens.
Julie loves ice cream, books and kittens.
I cleaned the house and garage, raked the lawn, and took out the garbage.
I cleaned the house and garage, raked the lawn and took out the garbage.

The comma before the and in a list of three or more items is optional. 

Serial Comma (Oxford Comma)

When you are listing three or more items, commas should separate each element of the list. However, the final comma—the one that comes before the and—is optional. This comma is called the serial comma or the Oxford comma.

Mary needs bread, milk, and butter at the grocery store. (With serial comma)
Mary needs bread, milk and butter at the grocery store. (Without serial comma)
I still have to buy a gift, pack the suitcases, and arrange for someone to water the plants while we’re at the wedding. (With serial comma)
I still have to buy a gift, pack the suitcases and arrange for someone to water the plants while we’re at the wedding. (Without serial comma)

Though the serial comma is optional, it is occasionally necessary for clarity.

  • I dedicate this award to my parents, Jane Austen and Albert Einstein.
    (Is the award dedicated to the parents and to Jane and Albert or are Jane and Albert the names of the parents?)
  • I dedicate this award to my parents, Jane Austen, and Albert Einstein.
    (The award is dedicated to the parents and to Jane and Albert)

Comma Separating a Verb and Its Object

Don’t separate a transitive verb from its direct object with a comma.

I’m glad I trained, Charlie not to beg for scraps.
I’m glad I trained Charlie not to beg for scraps.
Mary said, she likes chocolate.
Mary said she likes chocolate.

Comma with Nonrestrictive Clause

A nonrestrictive clause offers extra information about something you have mentioned in a sentence, but the information isn’t essential to identify the thing you’re talking about. Nonrestrictive clauses are usually introduced by which or who and should be set off by commas.

  • Posey’s Cafe, which Chester recommended, is a fantastic restaurant.
  • My wife, whom I love dearly, is a brilliant physicist.

Comma with Restrictive Clauses

A restrictive clause adds necessary information about something you have mentioned in a sentence. Restrictive clauses are often introduced by that or who and should never be set off by commas.

The cafe, that Chester recommended, is a fantastic restaurant.
The cafe that Chester recommended is a fantastic restaurant.

Comma Between Correlative Conjunctions

Correlative conjunctions are conjunctions that come in pairs (such as either/or, neither/nor, and not only/but also) and connect words or phrases in a sentence to form a complete thought. Typically, commas are unnecessary with correlative conjunctions.

Either the blue shirt, or the red sweater will look good with your jeans.
Either the blue shirt or the red sweater will look good with your jeans.
You can wear a pashmina not only for warmth, but also for fashion.
You can wear a pashmina not only for warmth but also for fashion.

Comma Between Direct Quote and Attributive Tag

An attributive tag is a phrase like “he said” or “she claimed” that identifies the speaker of a quote or piece of dialogue. Attributive tags can come before, after, or even in the middle of a quote. Use commas to separate attributive tags from quotations.

  • The professor remarked, “How attentive you have been today!”
  • “Once you know the solution,” Tiffany said, “the whole problem seems very simple.”
  • “You have ice cream on your nose,” my friend snickered.
  • “When you leave the house,” my mother yelled, “don’t slam the door!”

If a quotation before an attributive tag ends in a question mark or exclamation point, however, there’s no need for a comma.

“You have a spider on your nose!”, my friend yelled.
“You have a spider on your nose!” my friend yelled.
“Where did that spider come from?”, I asked.
“Where did that spider come from?” I asked.

Comma Inside Quotation Marks

In American English, commas always go before closing quotation marks.

  • “Pass me that thesaurus,” said Matthew.
  • “If you knew what was good for you, you’d sit down and finish that essay right now,” my roommate said.
  • “We’re going down to the soup kitchen to help serve dinner,” her mother called.

In British English, however, unquoted punctuation typically follows the quotation marks. If you are writing for a British audience, put the comma after the closing quotation mark. Furthermore, British English tends to use single quotes rather than double quotation marks.

Comma Before Parenthesis

After opening the new cookie tin, (and eating several of the cookies), Chester had a hard time replacing the lid. 
After opening the new cookie tin (and eating several of the cookies,) Chester had a hard time replacing the lid.
After opening the new cookie tin, Chester had a hard time replacing the lid.
After opening the new cookie tin (and eating several of the cookies), Chester had a hard time replacing the lid.

Comma with As Well As

The phrase “as well as” usually doesn’t require commas unless it’s part of a nonrestrictive clause.

  • Please proofread for grammatical mistakes as well as spelling.
  • Spelling mistakes, as well as grammatical errors, are distracting to readers.

Comma with Such As

The phrase “such as” requires commas if it introduces a nonrestrictive clause.

  • Coniferous trees, such as pine and spruce, do not drop their needles in the winter.

If “such as” introduces a restrictive clause, omit the commas.

  • Trees such as pine and spruce do not drop their needles in the winter.

Comma Before Too

Using a comma before “too” is optional. A comma simply adds emphasis.

  • I like bananas too.
  • I too like bananas.
  • I like bananas, too.
  • I, too, like bananas.


There are three forms of dashes: em, en, and the double hyphen. The most common types of dashes are the en dash (–) and the em dash (—).

Em Dashes

Em dashes can replace parentheses at the end of a sentence or when multiple commas appear in a parenthetical phrase.


  • After a split second of hesitation, the second baseman leaped for the ball (or, rather, limped for it).
  • After a split second of hesitation, the second baseman leaped for the ball—or, rather, limped for it.

Em dashes can also replace colons.


  • He is afraid of two things: spiders and senior prom.
  • He is afraid of two things—spiders and senior prom.

Writers and transcriptionists replace unknown, censored, or intentionally omitted letters with em dashes. In these cases, em dashes appear in pairs or threesomes.


  • A former employee of the accused company, ———, offered a statement off the record.
  • “H—— are all the same. They cause trouble wherever they go.”
  • Carved into the dresser drawer was a faded inscription: “Made for Kristina, by your de——ted sailor.”

En Dashes

The en dash is often used to indicate spans of time or ranges of numbers. In this context, the dash should be interpreted as meaning either “to” or “through.” 


  • The teacher assigned pages 101–181 for tonight’s reading material.
  • The scheduled window for the cable installation is 1:00–3:00pm.
  • The 2015–2016 fiscal year was the most profitable year for the new business.

The en dash may also be used to indicate a connection between two words.


  • The pro-choice–pro-life argument is always a heated one.
  • The Nobel Prize–winning author will be reading from her book at the library tonight.


Those three little dots are called an ellipsis (plural: ellipses). You can use an ellipsis to show that you’ve omitted some words, e.g.

  • Hamlet asked whether it was “nobler . . . to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against a sea of troubles.”

You can also use an ellipsis to show a pause in speech or that a sentence trails off. This technique doesn’t belong in formal or academic writing, though. You should only use the ellipsis this way in fiction and informal writing.

  • Andrew, can you, um . . . never mind, I forgot what I was saying. So, do you think we should . . . ?

How Many Dots?

There are 3 dots in an ellipsis. But, if the ellipsis comes immediately after a grammatically complete sentence, that sentence still needs its own period. So you would end up with a period followed by 3 dots. For example:

“Call me Jonah. My parents did, or nearly did. They called me John.”

could be shortened to

“Call me Jonah. . . . They called me John.”


Whether you put spaces between the dots or not is a matter of style. The Chicago Manual of Style calls for spaces between every ellipsis point. The AP Stylebook says to treat the ellipsis as a three-letter word, with spaces on either side of the ellipsis but no spaces between the dots. For example,

  • Chicago Style: um . . . never mind
  • AP Style: um … never mind

Exclamation Point (or Exclamation Mark)

Exclamation points go at the end of exclamatory sentences. An exclamatory sentence is one that expresses a strong or forceful emotion, such as anger, surprise, or joy.

  • I got a perfect score on the SAT! Get out of my sight!

Occasionally, you might see one at the end of a sentence that is phrased as a question.

  • Careful! That spider is poisonous. Holy cow! How could I have forgotten to pack underwear!

Exclamatory Quotations

Put the exclamation point inside the closing quotation marks if it applies to the words enclosed by the quotation marks.

  • “There’s a spider on my arm!” yelped Jeremy.

If the exclamation point applies to the sentence as a whole, then place it at the very end.

  • And then the paramedics tried to tell Jeremy it was “only a spider”!

Exclamation Points and Parentheses

Put the exclamation point inside the parentheses when it applies to the words inside the parentheses.

  • Jeremy didn’t find out until later what kind of spider it was (a black widow!).

Put the exclamation point outside the parentheses if it applies to the whole sentence.

  • They settled out of court and Jeremy got a million dollars (cash)!

Exclamation marks are considered to be relatively casual, so using them in business or formal academic writing is a no-no. Instead of relying on exclamation points to convey your urgency or excitement, use more vivid vocabulary. Instead of “Make sure you finish this by tomorrow morning!” try “It’s crucial that you finish this before tomorrow morning’s deadline.”


A hyphen (-) is a punctuation mark that’s used to join words or parts of words. It’s not interchangeable with other types of dashes. Use a hyphen in a compound modifier when the modifier comes before the word it’s modifying.

Hyphen with Compound Modifiers: Two-Word Adjectives Before Nouns

A compound modifier is made up of two words that work together to function like one adjective. When you connect words with the hyphen, you make it clear to readers that the words work together as a unit of meaning.

Use a Hyphen in an Noun and an Adjective (Before the Noun They Describe)

This rock-hard cake is absolutely impossible to eat.
We’re looking for a dog-friendly hotel.

Don’t Use a Hyphen in Compound Modifiers That Come After the Noun They Describe

Generally, you need the hyphen only if the two words are functioning together as an adjective before the noun they’re describing. If the noun comes first, leave the hyphen out.

  • This wall is load bearing.
  • It’s impossible to eat this cake because it is rock hard.
  • Is this hotel dog friendly?

Don’t Use a Hyphen in an Adverb and an Adjective (Before the Noun They Describe)

You also don’t need a hyphen when your modifier is made up of an adverb and an adjective.

Do you expect me to believe this clearly-impossible story?
Do you expect me to believe this clearly impossible story?

Use a Hyphen in a Noun or Adjective and a Present Participle (Before the Noun They Describe)

When we combine a noun or adjective and a present participle (a word ending in ‑ing) to form a unit of meaning that describes another word, use a hyphen to make that unit of meaning clear.

It’s recommended you don’t take down any load bearing walls when renovating.

In this sentence, it sounds like you shouldn’t take down any load that is holding up a wall. A hyphen should be inserted between load and bearing to make it clear that we’re talking about walls that are bearing a load.
It’s recommended you don’t take down any load-bearing walls when renovating.
There are some beautiful looking flowers in the garden.

Without the hyphen between beautiful and looking, your reader may stumble over the sentence. Perhaps there’s a new type of daisy called the “looking flower”?
There are some beautiful-looking flowers in the garden.

Don’t Use a Hyphen With a Noun or Adjective and a Present Participle (After the Noun They Describe)

Don’t use a hyphen when the modifier comes after the noun it’s describing. Compare the following:

  • Fast-acting medication can be useful when one has a headache.
  • This medication is fast acting.

Don’t Use a Hyphen in an Adverb and a Participle (Before the Noun They Describe)

The room was like a heavily-decorated chocolate box.
The room was like a heavily decorated chocolate box.

Use a Hyphen in a Noun and Past Participle (Before the Noun They Describe)

Compound modifiers that contain a past participle also follow the same rules as any other compound modifier. Use a hyphen when the compound goes before the noun it modifies:

The municipal government is funding a community-based education system.
Wind-powered generators can be excellent sources of electricity.
Many veterinarians find meat-fed cats to be quite healthy.

Don’t Use a Hyphen in a Noun and Past Participle (After the Noun They Describe)

Don’t use a hyphen when the compound comes after the noun it describes. Compare the following:

  • A well-known local singer will perform tonight.
  • The singer performing tonight is well known.

Hyphenated Compound Words

Hyphenated compound words are the ones (obviously) with a hyphen between the words. Over time, many hyphenated compounds become closed compounds—teen-ager became teenager for instance. Check a dictionary if you’re not sure whether to use a hyphen or not. Here are a few examples of common hyphenated compound words:

  • Mother-in-law
  • Master-at-arms
  • Editor-in-chief
  • Ten-year-old
  • Factory-made
  • Twelve-pack

Closed Compound Words

Hyphenated words tend to become closed compounds (single words with no hyphens) over time. Email instead of e-mail, for example, is increasingly common. If you aren’t sure whether a words is a closed compound or a hyphenated one, check your preferred dictionary.

  • Notebook
  • Superman
  • Waistcoat
  • Bookstore
  • Fireman

Open Compound Words

Open compounds are typically made up of two nouns that are used together to represent a single idea. “Open” means that there is a space between the two words and no hyphen. A good dictionary is the best place to check whether a compound is open or not.

  • Living room
  • Real estate
  • Dinner table
  • Coffee mug

Hyphens and Numbers

Numbers between twenty-one and ninety-nine should be hyphenated when they’re spelled out.

  • Fifty-six bottles of pop on the wall, fifty-six bottles of pop…
  • No, I won’t party “like it’s nineteen ninety-nine.”
  • I’ve got a hundred twenty-two of these gizmos to sell.

Hyphen in Compound Adjective With Numbers

When numbers are used as the first part of a compound adjective, use a hyphen to connect them to the noun that follows them. This applies whether the number is written in words or in digits.

  • The president of the company gave a 10-minute speech to the Board of Directors.
  • He is knowledgeable in thirteenth-century politics.
  • The boy threw a rock at the second-story window.

However, a hyphen is not required if the number is the second word in the compound adjective.

  • He is a victim of Type 2 diabetes.
  • This elevator doesn’t go down to Basement 3.

Hyphen In Compound Adjective With Fractions

When using a fraction (e.g. half or quarter) as part of a compound adjective, it should be hyphenated so the reader understands which fraction is modifying which noun.

  • I half-wanted to commit a felony.
  • A quarter-million dollars is still a large amount of money.
  • You’ll need one-third of a pound of flour and one egg.
  • That’s a half-baked idea if I ever heard one!

Hyphen With Prefixes: Ex-, Self-, All-

Use a hyphen with the prefix ex- (meaning former).

  • Don’t sit Adam next to Martha! She’s his ex-wife!
  • Though he no longer held an official position, the ex-mayor still attended all the town’s functions.

Use a hyphen with the reflexive prefix self-.

  • Lying on the floor beside the plant he had knocked over and chewed on, the cat looked extremely self-satisfied.
  • Do you want a self-serve or a full-serve gas station?

Make sure you don’t confuse the prefix self- with the noun self.

  • The self serves no other.

When using all as a prefix, add a hyphen.

  • It’s a bad leader who thinks of himself as all-powerful.

Hyphens with High or Low

When using high or low as part of a compound adjective, use a hyphen when the compound comes before the noun it’s modifying. Some examples of compound adjectives using high and low include high-level/low-level and high-impact/low-impact.

  • Low-flying airplanes contribute to the noise pollution in the area.
  • This car runs best on high-octane gasoline.
  • Low-income families often face more stress than their higher-income counterparts.
  • A high-interest savings account is one of the best ways to save money.

Parentheses and Brackets

Parentheses are punctuation marks that are used to set off information within a text or paragraph. They can enclose a single word, a phrase, or even an entire sentence. Typically, the words inside the parentheses provide extra information about something else in the sentence.

  • Curators from the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) have announced a new dinosaur exhibit. While walking down the street (paying more attention to her phone than to her feet), Catherine tripped over the curb and sprained her ankle.

Brackets, sometimes called square brackets, are most often used to show that words have been added to a direct quotation. Sometimes, when quoting a person or document, adding a word or two is necessary to provide enough context for the quote to make sense. For example, the original sentence you want to quote might read “We went and had a great time.” Out of context, this sentence doesn’t mean much. But you can add bracketed information to make the context clear.

  • “We went [to the new dinosaur exhibit] and had a great time.”

It’s extremely important to use brackets when you change a direct quote—forgetting to add them results in a misquote.

Parentheses or Brackets With Surrounding Punctuation

Treat parentheses or brackets and the words inside them as separate from the rest of the sentence. Any sentence that contains a parenthetical element should still make sense if the element is removed.

Meena (studied all night for) the grammar test.
Meena studied (all night) for the grammar test.
Meena studied for the grammar test.

Periodsquestion marks, and exclamation points should go before the closing parenthesis or bracket only if they belong to the words inside the parentheses or brackets. If the punctuation belongs to the surrounding sentence, put them outside the parentheses or brackets. Never put a comma immediately before a closing parenthesis.

After dinner (an enormous, healthy salad,) Posey treated herself to ice cream.
After dinner, (an enormous, healthy salad) Posey treated herself to ice cream.
After dinner (an enormous, healthy salad), Posey treated herself to ice cream.


Periods and Quotation Marks 

In American English, the period goes inside the closing quotation mark at the end of a sentence.

  • My mother loved to remind me of the old saying “waste not, want not.” Phillip said, “I can’t remember where I heard about the banjo concert, but I sure want to go.”

Periods and Parentheses

When a complete, independent sentence is entirely enclosed by parentheses, the period goes inside the closing parenthesis.

  • Charlie scarfed up every Cheeto that fell out of the bag. (I wasn’t fast enough to stop him.) At least we won’t have to sweep the floor.

But, if the parenthetical material is nested inside another sentence, the period should go on the outside.

  • Charlie barked wildly when he caught the scent of fresh bacon (his favorite).


An ellipsis (plural: ellipses) looks like three periods in a row with spaces in between them. There are two main uses for ellipses. One is to show that part of a quote has been omitted.

  • Hamlet asked whether it was “nobler . . . to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against a sea of troubles.”

You can also use an ellipsis for literary effect, to represent a dramatic pause or a thought that trails off.

  • The bus was supposed to come at 3:00 so we waited and waited . . . and waited. Wait a minute . . . If you’re not watching Charlie, who is? I guess we could meet you there later. If there’s time . . .

Question Mark

Question Marks and Quotation Marks

Keep the question mark inside the quotation marks if it logically applies to what is enclosed by the quotation marks. You’ll often see this in written dialogue:

  • The chicken asked, “Why is everyone so concerned about where I’m walking?” “What do you have to hide?” asked the nosy reporter.

If the question mark applies to the sentence as a whole instead of to the phrase inside the quotation marks, put it at the very end:

  • Haven’t you ever heard the expression “It’s a free country”?

This holds true even when you have a quotation containing a question:

  • “When I spoke to the chicken, she said ‘Why won’t you leave me alone?’” recalled the reporter.

And for a quoted question containing a quoted statement:

  • “What did the chicken mean,” the reporter wondered, “when she said ‘It’s a free country’?”

When you have a question mark that applies to both the quoted phrase and the rest of the sentence, just use one question mark:

  • Who said “Why did the chicken cross the road?”

Question Marks and Parentheses

If a question mark applies to the parenthetical information, place the question mark inside the parentheses:

  • I saw the chicken (or was it the rooster?) crossing the road.
  • The chicken wrote a bestselling memoir called My Road (published abroad as Who Needs a Crosswalk?).

When the question applies to the whole sentence, put it outside the parentheses:

  • Will the chicken cross the road again tomorrow (April 1)?

Quotation Marks and Dialogue

Quotation marks are used to identify words that someone has said or a direct quote from a person in an article or quoting material that was written by someone else.

American vs. British Quotation Marks

American English uses double quotation marks (“ ”) for quotes and reserves single quotation marks (‘ ’) for quotes within quotes. In British English, the convention is the opposite. Another difference is that in American English, periods and commas go before closing quotation marks. In British English, they go after the closing quotation mark. The guidelines below apply to American English.


When writers become confused about quotation marks, it usually has to do with where to put other nearby punctuation. Below is an example of a conversation between two characters, with their dialogue correctly punctuated.

  • Martin said, “I’m going over to Jennifer’s house for a few hours.”
  • “You can’t be serious!” cried Fauntleroy.
  • “Oh, but I am,” Martin replied.
  • “How will you get there?” Fauntleroy asked.
  • “I thought I’d take the bus.”
  • “And,” Fauntleroy continued, “exactly how long is ‘a few hours’?”
  • “Probably two or three.”
  • “Well . . . fine. Tell Jennifer I said hello.”

Non-Dialogue Quotations

The mayor said his two golden retrievers were “the best dogs in the world. I’m not a cat person.”
The mayor said his two golden retrievers were “the best dogs in the world” and added that he was not a cat person.

Scare Quotes

Occasionally, writers enclose certain terms they wish to distance themselves from in quotation marks. 

  • Silicon Valley has fully embraced the “sharing economy.”

Sometimes, scare quotes are needed to indicate that the writer is not talking about something in general, but rather a specific term itself.

  • For too many people, “computer security” is an oxymoron.


Semicolons (;) are as basic as a period stacked on top of a comma.

The most common use of the semicolon is to join two independent clauses without using a conjunction like and. Don’t use a capital letter after a semicolon. A semicolon should be followed by a capital letter only if the word is a proper noun or an acronym.

  • We can go to the museum to do some research; Mondays are pretty quiet there.

You can use a semicolon to join two closely related independent clauses. Let’s put that another way. The group of words that comes before the semicolon should form a complete sentence, the group of words that comes after the semicolon should form a complete sentence, and the two sentences should share a close, logical connection:

  • I ordered a cheeseburger for lunch; life’s too short for counting calories.
  • Money is the root of all evil; I don’t believe the reverse is necessarily true.
  • Martha has gone to the library; Andrew has gone to play soccer.

Notice that the letter following the semicolon is not capitalized. 

Delete the Conjunction When You Use a Semicolon

  • I saw a magnificent albatross, and it was eating a mouse.
  • I saw a magnificent albatross; it was eating a mouse.

Use Semicolons in a Serial List

You can use semicolons to divide the items of a list if the items are long or contain internal punctuation. In these cases, the semicolon helps readers keep track of the divisions between the items.

  • I need the weather statistics for the following cities: London, England; London, Ontario; Paris, France; Paris, Ontario; Perth, Scotland; Perth, Ontario.
  • My plan included taking him to a nice—though not necessarily expensive—dinner; going to the park to look at the stars, which, by the way, are amazing this time of year; and serenading him with my accordion.

Use Semicolons With Conjunctive Adverbs

When you have a conjunctive adverb linking two independent clauses, you should use a semicolon. Some common conjunctive adverbs include moreover, nevertheless, however, otherwise, therefore, then, finally, likewise, and consequently. 

  • I needed to go for a walk and get some fresh air; also, I needed to buy milk.
  • Reports of the damage caused by the hurricane were greatly exaggerated; indeed, the storm was not a “hurricane” at all.
  • The students had been advised against walking alone at night; however, Cathy decided walking wasn’t dangerous if it was early in the evening.
  • I’m not all that fond of the colors of tiger lilies; moreover, they don’t smell very good.


There are two types of slashes: a backslash (\) and a forward slash (/). The backslash is used only for computer coding. The forward slash, often simply referred to as a slash, is a punctuation mark used in English.

A Slash to Indicate Or

  • When leaving the classroom, the teacher noticed that a student had left his/her backpack.
  • College freshmen should bring a mattress and/or cot to sleep on during orientation.
  • If/when Mary ever shows up, we can all head out to the party together.
  • Burgers or pizza for dinner? Yeah, either/or is fine with me.

A Slash to Form Abbreviations

Slashes can also be used to form some abbreviations or shortened forms of words or phrases, although these shouldn’t be used in formal writing.

  • w/o = without
  • w/ = with
  • c/o =
  • care of (used when posting a letter or parcel)
  • a/c = air conditioning

A Slash to Indicate Connecting and Conflicting Relationships

Slashes can also be used to note that there is a connection or conflict between two words or phrases in a sentence.

  • The pro-life/pro-choice debate is a hot-button issue for many voters this election.
  • The designer often works in his bonus room/home office.

Space Before and After Slash

When a slash signifies alternatives between only two words, don’t use spaces before or after. 

  • Add chili flakes and/or black pepper to the recipe.

When using slashes to signify alternatives between phrases or multi-word terms or compounds, a space before and after the slash makes text easier to read.

  • World War I / First World War


An abbreviation, simply put, is a shortened form of a word. Some readers may not know what an abbreviation means. If the abbreviation is obscure or unfamiliar, make sure to explain what it means the first time you use it.

Acronyms and Initialisms

Typically, acronyms and initialisms are written in all capital letters to distinguish them from ordinary words. (When fully spelled out, the words in acronyms and initialisms do not need to be capitalized unless they entail a proper noun.)

An acronym is pronounced as a single word, rather than as a series of letters. 

  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration = NASA
  • self contained underwater breathing apparatus = scuba
  • light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation = lase

Initialisms are pronounced as a series of letters.

  • National Football League = NFL (en eff ell)

If you need to use an indefinite article before an acronym or initialism, use the initial sound of the word (not necessarily the initial letter) guide your choice.

Abbreviations for Courtesy Titles and Academic Degrees

Titles such as mister, miss, and doctor, as well as the names of academic degrees such as bachelor of arts and doctor of philosophy are almost always abbreviated. In American English, title abbreviations are followed by a period; in British English, the period is omitted.

  • Mr. = Mister
  • Mrs. = Mistress (pronounced “missus”)
  • Ms. = (pronounced “miss” or “miz”)
  • Sr. = Senior
  • Jr. = Junior
  • Dr. = Doctor
  • Mr. Green asked Ms. Grey if she had met Dr. Jekyl. (American style)
  • Mr Green asked Ms Grey if she had met Dr Jekyl. (British style)

B.S. = Bachelor of science

  • B.A. = Bachelor of Arts
  • M.A. = Master of Arts
  • M.B.A. = Master of Business Administration
  • Ph.D. = Doctor of Philosophy

The periods are optional with abbreviations of academic degrees. Follow whichever style your style guide recommends, or just choose one and use it consistently. When an academic degree is used like a title, it follows a person’s name and is set off by commas:

  • Molly Beagle, Ph.D., runs the canine cognition lab at Stanford University.

Latin Abbreviations

e.g.: exempli gratia It means “for example.” Use e.g. when you want to provide specific examples of a generalization.

  • We expect volunteers from many surrounding cities, (e.g., Springfield, Oakdale, Hogsmeade.)

i.e.: id est It means “that is.” Use i.e. when you want to provide more specific information about something you mentioned.

  • After a reasonable amount of time has passed—i.e. two business days—please report the missing shipment to our customer service department.

etc.: et cetera It means “and so forth.” Use it when you’re providing a partial list of details.

  • You should see the doctor when you have flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, etc.)

Other Common Abbreviations

Below are a few other abbreviations that are common in English. Remember that abbreviations are not always completely standardized. One style guide may advise you to abbreviate Thursday as Thurs. while another may argue for Thu. Likewise, some style guides allow you to omit the periods with these abbreviations, but it’s never wrong to include periods. So if you aren’t sure whether to use the periods, err on the side of leaving them in.

Times and dates

a.m. (ante meridiem) = before noon p.m. (post meridiem) = after noon

  • The mall opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 8 p.m.

Jan., Feb., Mar., Apr., May, Jun., Jul., Aug., Sep., Oct., Nov., Dec.

  • I was born on Nov. 6, 1980.

Mon., Tues., Wed., Thurs., Fri., Sat,. Sun.

  • The class will run Mon.-Fri. next week.


U.S. (United States) U.K. (United Kingdom) E.U. (European Union) U.A.E. (United Arab Emirates)

  • The U.S. highway system seems enormous to visitors from the U.K.

Units of Measurement

in. (inches) ft. (feet) lbs. (pounds)

mm. (millimeters) cm. (centimeters) m. (meters)

mg. (milligram) g. (gram) kg. (kilogram)

My cat weighs 10 lbs., which is about 4.5 kg.

Spelling Rules

English spelling of some words is wildly different from the way we pronounce them (It’s fuchsia, right? Or is it fuschiaFushia?)

Around Shakespeare’s time, when spelling was first becoming standardized, the spelling of most English words was mostly phonetic—or at least more phonetic than it is today. For example, English speakers did once pronounce the k at the beginning of words like knife and knee. But even though no one has pronounced knee as “kuh-nee” in centuries, we still hang on to the old spelling.


Capitalize the First Word of a Sentence

  • The cat is sleeping.
  • Where did I put that book?

Capitalize Names and Other Proper Nouns

  • My favorite author is Jane Austen.
  • Have you met my dog, Boomer?

Names are proper nouns. The names of cities, countries, companies, religions, and political parties are also proper nouns, so you should capitalize them, too.

  • We experienced some beautiful Southern California weather last fall when we attended a Catholic wedding in San Diego.

You should also capitalize words like mom and grandpa when they are used as a form of address.

  • Just wait until Mom sees this!
  • My mom is not going to like this.

Don’t Capitalize After a Colon (Usually)

  • I have one true passion: wombat racing.

One exception is when the word following the colon is a proper noun.

  • There is only one place I want to visit: New York City.

The other exception is when the words following the colon form one or more complete sentences.

Maggie wears a brimmed cap at all times for these two reasons: Strong light often gives her a headache. She also likes the way it looks.

Capitalize the First Word of a Quote (Sometimes)

Capitalize the first word of a quote when the quote is a complete sentence.

  • Mario asked, “What is everyone doing this weekend?”
  • Stacy answered, “My sister and I are going to the water park.”

Don’t capitalize the first word of partial quotes.

  • Gretchen said she was “way too busy” to join the gym.
  • Mr. Thompson described the rules as “extremely difficult to understand if you don’t have a law degree.”

Capitalize Days, Months, and Holidays, But Not Seasons

The names of days, months, and holidays are proper nouns, so you should capitalize them.

  • I hate Mondays!
  • Tom’s birthday is in June.
  • Oh no! I forgot about Valentine’s Day!

The names of seasons, however, are not proper nouns, so there’s no need to capitalize them.

  • I hate winter!
  • Having a summer birthday is the best.

Capitalize Most Words in Titles

Just use

  • Sense and Sensibility is better than Pride and Prejudice.
  • The first movie of the series is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Capitalize Cities, Countries, Nationalities, and Languages

  • English is made up of many languages, including Latin, German, and French.
  • My mother is British, and my father is Dutch.
  • The capital of Botswana is Gaborone.

Capitalize Time Periods and Events (Sometimes)

Specific periods, eras, and historical events that have proper names should be capitalized.

  • Most of the World War I veterans are now deceased.
  • In the Middle Ages, poor hygiene was partly responsible for the spreading of bubonic plague.
  • Middle school students often enjoy studying the social changes that took place during the Roaring Twenties.

However, centuries—and the numbers before them—are not capitalized.

  • In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, England blossomed into an empire.

Compound Words

When adverbs ending in -ly combine with another word, the resulting compound is always spelled as two separate words.

  • largely irrelevant
  • newly formed

There are a great many grammar rules regarding hyphens in compound words. One important rule of thumb to remember is that in most cases, a compound adjective is hyphenated if placed before the noun it modifies, but not if placed after the noun.

  • a long-term solution
  • an up-to-date user guide
  • This is not a good solution for the long term.
  • This user guide is not up to date.

It’s often necessary to consult the dictionary to determine whether these terms should be hyphenated or not.

Online Tools to Improve Your English Writing

As a blogger and a person who works in marketing, I deal with a lot of English text content. Though English is my native language, it is not my specialization, although that is quickly changing the more I read and write. Here are some online tools I’ve found very useful for anyone wanting to improve their writing.


Grammarly can do many things including alerting you to typos, incorrect grammar, wordy phrases, inconsistent spelling, and more. It does this by underlining words in red or blue so you can quickly jump to words or phrases that could be improved. For example, in the screenshot below, the word “effect” is misspelled. On the right, there is an explanation of the typo and a link to learn more. Clicking on the box will fix the typo.

If you double-click on a word, you can get synonyms.

Grammarly has a great handbook in their blog that explains many grammar topics concisely and with good examples.

Note that Grammarly is not perfect and does not replace human review. is the first sentence search engine that helps you write better English by giving you contextualized examples taken from reliable sources.

As you can see in the screenshot above, Ludwig can do many things including

  • Find your sentence in the best contexts
  • Translate in English in the smartest way
  • Get definitions, synonyms and examples
  • Compare the frequency of two sentences
  • Discover the missing word
  • Paraphrase your sentence
  • Compare the frequency of words
  • Order a group of words


WordTune helps you rewrite words and sentences. They can be shortened, expanded, and made to sound more casual or formal.

If you highlight a word and click on the WordTune icon, you can get synonyms.

Learn a Language by Watching Movies

One of the best ways to learn a language is by watching movies. But, video players usually only let you show one subtitle language at a time. Also, you can’t easily repeat what was just said or slow down the video when a character may be speaking too quickly. Here’s one way to make it easier to learn a language by watching movies. This example assumes the video is on Netflix.

1. Download the video and subtitles

Let’s say you want to learn Spanish and you speak English. One popular video series is Money Heist. You can download one or all episodes using Flixicam. Flixicam costs XXX. Since the purpose of this activity is to learn a language, you can download the video in the lowest resolution, e.g. 480p, so that the file is too big. Money Heist is at this URL: When you play the video, you can click on the subtitles icon to see what subtitle languages are available. Unfortunately, in this case, there aren’t any Spanish subtitles, but you may be able to find Spanish subtitles online.

In this case, you can search online for the Spanish subtitles, e.g. at

2. Merge subtitles

When watching a video, it helps to see two subtitles at once – one of the language you are learning and one of the language you understand. You can merge two subtitle files using an online tool.

3. Load video and subtitles in a subtitle editor tool

Subtitle editing tools may be designed to edit subtitles, but they’re also good for learning a language. The one I use is HappyScribe free online subtitle editor because I like the interface.

Just open the editor, upload your video, import the merged subtitle file, and start watching, listening and learning. Click on any subtitle paragraph to jump to the corresponding location in the video. Click on it again to repeat what was just said.

Change the playback speed to slow down the speech, if necessary.

The downside to this particular subtitle editor is it is online which means you have to upload your video which can take quite some time on a slow internet connection. You can also install a subtitle editor program on your computer which would eliminate the need to upload large videos. For example, here’s a simple one for Windows called Open Subtitle Editor.

Another one is Subtitle Edit.

However, with this one, I don’t see an option to change playback speed. If you use this one, you’ll probably want to go to Options > Settings > Double-clicking line in main window list view will “Go to video position and play”.

How to Download Subtitles in Netflix

Note: the tutorial below works using Google Chrome and English subtitles where a user’s language setting in Netflix is set to English. It does not work for other languages like Arabic and Chinese. To download subtitles in those languages, you may need to change your language setting in Netflix.

1. Start playing a Netflix video

This tutorial uses Google Chrome.

2. Open Chrome Inspector

Click CTRL+SHIFT+I to open the Google Chrome Inspector. Click the Network tab. Make sure “All” is selected. Enter “?o=” in the filter field. Make the video window smaller than full screen so you can see both the video window and the Inspector window side by side.

3. Find subtitle file

In the Inspector, sort the files by “Name”. If subtitles are turned on, you will see a filename that begins with “?o=”.

If you don’t see the file, then in the video, click to see the subtitle options and then click on a subtitle, e.g. “English”. You should then see the subtitle file appear in the list of files in the Inspector.

4. Download subtitle file

In the Inspector, right-click on the file and click “Open in a new tab” to download the file. Rename the file to something like english-subtitles.xml.

5. Convert subtitles to SRT format

The XML format of the subtitles may not be user-friendly. You can convert it to SRT format by going to where you can convert the format for free.

If you have multiple subtitles, e.g. in different languages, you can merge them using this online tool.

If you’d like to edit subtitles, you can try this free online editor. Some of the nice features are

  • clean user-friendly interface
  • can load a video from a YouTube URL
  • can change video playback speed
  • when you click on a subtitle, the video automatically jumps to the timestamp of that subtitle
  • great for learning a language

Tips for Buying a Car

Car Depreciation

Unlike real estate, which increases in value over time (except occasionally during a recession), cars depreciate in value as soon as you drive them off the dealer lot. According to NerdWallet, your car’s value decreases around 20% to 30% by the end of the first year. From years two to six, depreciation ranges from 15% to 18% per year. As a rule of thumb, in five years, cars lose 60% or more of their initial value.

However, not all vehicles depreciate at the same rate, meaning certain makes or models hold their value better than others. And depreciation rates can also change over time.

A brand-new car will depreciate the most because of the steep first-year drop. Buying a car that is just one year old avoids this first hit from depreciation and saves you a significant amount of money on a nearly new car. And, of course, waiting past the three-year mark could save the owner around half of the car’s original price. analyzed more than 800,000 car sales to identify vehicles from the 2016 model year with the lowest and highest loss in value from MSRP after five years.

5-Year Cost to Own

Even if two vehicles are priced the same, that doesn’t mean they will cost the same over time. For example, fuel costs, maintenance fees and depreciation can vary quite a bit between two vehicles. Knowing the 5-Year Cost to Own ahead of time can help you save money in the long run. On you can find the 5-year cost to own a particular car or classes of vehicles.

You can also see the vehicles with the lowest 5-year cost to own by vehicle class. According to, Toyota and Lexus are the two brands with the lowest 5-year cost to own.

Buy a Used Car

If new vehicles lose so much value in the first few years, it would make sense then to buy a used car. In this case, you have two options:

Buy a used car from a private party

In this case, the potential to get the best deal is high but you may also end up with a vehicle that has many problems. The seller may lie to you and may not have maintained the vehicle which could result in expensive surprises. You can view a vehicle’s history on to see if it’s been in any accidents, how many owners it’s had, and more.

Buy a certified pre-owned (CPO) car

CPO vehicles are relatively new, low-mileage vehicles that have been inspected and certified by dealers representing the automaker who built them. They come with warranty coverage and other extras you wouldn’t get if you bought a non-certified used car. For pre-owned vehicles to become certified by an automaker, they must be less than five or six years old and have fewer than 60,000 to 80,000 miles on the odometer. These vehicles also undergo multipoint inspections at the dealership. Sometimes, these vehicles were loaner vehicles that the dealer loaned to customers while they wait for their vehicles to be serviced. CPO vehicles, of course, cost more than non-certified used vehicles but they are cheaper than brand new vehicles.


Most people don’t buy cars in cash. Instead, they finance the cost by making monthly payments for 5 years. I was just at a Lexus dealer today and with my 800+ credit score and offer to put $10,000 down on a $42,037 vehicle, I was offered an interest rate of 4.29%.

I then estimated what kind of interest rate I could get from and got a rate of 2.33%.

To determine the monthly payments and total interest payments, we can use a car payment calculator. At 4.29% over 60 months, my monthly payments would be $594.21 and the total interest paid over 5 years would be $3,615.72.

At 2.33% over 60 months, my monthly payments would be $566.17 and the cost total interest paid would be $1,933.44.

The difference is $1682.28 over 5 years.

Sometimes, dealers have specials where they offer 0% interest. For example, if a new car costs $42000 with 0% interest financing whereas a slightly used certified pre-owned car costs $39000 with 4% interest, you might as well buy the new car because the 4% interest would increase the cost from $39,000 to $42,044.75.


Car insurance costs vary depending on many factors. Following are factors that affect car insurance.

Driver’s age

One cost factor is risk. Young drivers below the age of 25 and elderly drivers above the age of 65 are considered high risk drivers. For that reason, car insurance tends to cost more in those age groups. Following is a chart of average insurance costs by driver age.

AgeAnnual Minimum Coverage CostAnnual Full Coverage Cost
20$992 females, $1088 males$2769 females, $3195 males
21$821 females, $882 males$2298 females, $2609 males
22$766 females, $813 males$2152 females, $2378 males
23$709 females, $745 males$2005 females, $2202 males
24$671 females, $698 males$1896 females, $2068 males
25$614 females, $617 males$1719 females, $1801 males
30$572 females, $555 males$1588 females, $1581 males
35$569 females, $548 males$1573 females, $1556 males
40$545 females, $545 males$1544 females, $1529 males
45$560 females, $542 males$1528 females, $1516 males
50$539 females, $531 males$1451 females, $1445 males
55$528 females, $522 males$1421 females, $1419 males
60$529 females, $524 males$1414 females, $1415 males
65$551 females, $549 males$1452 females, $1463 males
70$587 females, $590 males$1527 females, $1546 males
75$651 females, $671 males$1666 females, $1736 males
80$726 females, $770 males$1831 females, $1957 males

Driving record

Understandably, if you have a clean driving record (no accidents, no insurance claims), then you’ll likely pay less for car insurance, and vice versa.

Car make, model and value

The cost of your car is a major factor in the cost to insure it. Other variables include the likelihood of theft, the cost of repairs, its engine size and the overall safety record of the car. Automobiles with high-quality safety equipment might qualify for premium discounts.

The Tesla Model 3 is the most expensive popular car to insure. The 2022 Tesla Model 3 starts at a moderately priced $44,990 but at $2,830 a year for full coverage, insurance is significantly more than other popular cars.

Insurance for the Model 3 and other Tesla vehicles is so expensive because as a luxury car, Teslas are more expensive to repair and are a more enticing target for thieves.


Oil change

The cost to change oil can vary quite a bit from one car to another and the cost is usually exorbitant if you change oil at a dealer. For example, the average cost to change oil for a Mercedes S-Class is almost twice that for a Lexus UX SUV.

My 2003 Honda Accord costs even less to change the oil.

Note that some new cars include 3 year / 36,000 mile maintenance.


Before spending tens of thousands of dollars on a new vehicle, it might be helpful to read the manual first since you can’t return vehicles to the dealer as you can most other purchases. You can find manuals on the manufacturers’ websites.


Fixing a car can be very expensive. Having a warranty can save you a ton of money and offer peace of mind. With a warranty, the manufacturer will fix certain things for free during a certain period of time or up to a certain mileage. There are different types of warranties.

Typical warranty

The typical auto warranty coverage is 3 years/36,000 miles — meaning a warranty that covers needed repairs in the first three years you own your car, or for the first 36,000 miles you drive it, whichever comes first. You can estimate how far you drive each year by finding the distance from one place to another in Google Maps, e.g. distance from home to work and back 5 days a week.

Comprehensive / Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty

This type of warranty covers everything except wear and tear, damage caused by you, and normal maintenance.

Powertrain Warranty

This type of warranty covers the mechanical parts that move the car.

Both Hyundai and Kia offer one of the industry’s longest warranties on new cars — a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. However, if the vehicle is sold, only a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty goes to the new owner of the car.

Hybrid Warranty

This type of warranty covers repairs to the battery, electric motor, and other unique components found in an electric or hybrid car. 

Lexus, for example, offers the following warranties.

  • The Basic Warranty coverage is for 48 months or 50,000 miles, whichever occurs first. 
  • The Powertrain Warranty is for 72 months or 70,000 miles, whichever occurs first. 
  • The Lexus Hybrid Warranty coverage is for eight years or 100,000 miles, whichever occurs first, and covers the following components: Hybrid Battery Control Module (battery voltage sensor), Hybrid Control Module (power management control module), and Inverter with Converter.
  • The Lexus Hybrid Battery Warranty coverage is for ten years or 150,000 miles, whichever occurs first on 2020 and newer models.

Rent Before Buying

Though you can test drive a car at a dealer, that may not be enough for you to really get a good idea of whether the car is right for you or not. To be safe, you can rent the same model of car you are interested in buying. If the vehicle model you are interested in is not available at car rental centers like Hertz, you may be able to find one at a private party via the Of course, you can also borrow a friend’s car if they have the one you are interested in.

Fuel Economy

Some vehicles are gas guzzlers. This can cause you to spend a lot more money than you thought. There are 3 main types of cars: gas only, hybrid gas and electricity, and electric only. At, you can compare up to 4 vehicles for fuel economy.

For example:

2021 hybrid Lexus Crossover SUC2003 gas-only Honda Accord
MPG 25 miles per gallon 42 miles per gallon
Distance on full tank445 miles
Annual Fuel Cost$1,200$2000
Cost to Drive 25 Miles$1.97$3.31

Car Rebates

Sometimes you can get rebates valued at thousands of dollars. Following are some clean vehicle incentive websites.

California Clean Vehicle Rebate Project


EV TypeStandard RebateIncreased Rebate
Fuel cell electric$4,500$2,500
Battery electric$2,000$2,500
Plug-in hybrid $1,000$2,500

For example, you can get a $1000 rebate for the Toyota RAV4 Prime Plug-in Hybrid and $2000 + $750 rebate for the Hyundai Ioniq 5 All-Electric SUV.

Federal Tax Credits for New All-Electric and Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles


All-electric and plug-in hybrid cars purchased new, not used, in or after 2010 may be eligible for a federal income tax credit of up to $7,500. The credit amount will vary based on the capacity of the battery used to power the vehicle.

A tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction of the income tax you owe. For example, if you owe $1,000 in federal taxes but are eligible for a $1,000 tax credit, your net liability drops to zero. … Therefore, if your total tax is $400 and claim a $1,000 tax credit, you will receive a $600 refund.

For example, for the Hyundai Ionic All-Electric sedan, you can get a $7500 federal tax credit.

The Toyota RAV4 Prime Plug-in Hybrid and the 2022 Lexus NX Plug-In Hybrid qualify for a $7.5K federal tax credit as well.

The 2017–22 Prius Prime Plug-in Hybrid qualifies for a $4,502 tax credit.

The process to apply for a tax credit is fairly simple. You first have to buy a vehicle that qualifies, of course. Then you fill out form 8936 along with your tax return. After filing your return, if you look at your IRS tax transcript, which you can download from the IRS website, you will see a section titled “Tax and Credits” with a line item (highlighted below) for “F8936 Electric Motor Vehicle Credit Amount” which should have the dollar amount of the credit available for the EV you buy.

Costco Auto Program

Costco claims to offer its members a discount when buying new and pre-owned vehicles from participating dealers. An Authorized Dealer Contact will present the “Costco Member-Only Price Sheet,” displaying your prearranged pricing. The savings can be displayed in one of two ways: one version lists pricing for all models available at the participating dealership; the other will show a VIN-specific price based on the vehicle you select, including any applicable manufacturer incentives or rebates.

Car Tires

Tires aren’t like shoes: The bigger the size, the more you pay. According to Discount Tire / America’s Tire, the average prices are as follows.

Wheel SizeAll-SeasonAll-Terrain
Small (12” – 15” wheels).
Compact cars, golf carts, etc.
$80 – $150
Medium (16” – 20” wheels).
Crossovers, SUVs, small trucks, and vans.
$100 – $250$150 – $250

All-Gas vs All-Electric Vehicles

Vehicles are becoming more and more electric. Here are some pros and cons of all-electric vehicles.

You can save a lot of money Electric cars can be pricey 
Electricity is renewable Charging can be a lengthy process
You can reduce your environmental impact You can’t go as far or as long as gas cars 
You can take advantage of tax credits and clean car rebatesFinding a station can be tough 
Less maintenance is required Car insurance premiums may increase 
Better performance 
Drive solo in HOV lane
No oil changes
No smog checks

Note that the Hyundai Ioniq 5 supports ultra-fast charging and can go up to 300 miles on a full charge.

The ultra-fast charging capability gives you over 60 miles of range with just a five- minute charge, or you can charge it from 10 percent to 80 percent in just under 18 minutes. However, ultra-fast chargers are only available at public charging stations.

My Picks

Lexus UX 250h

Hyundai Ioniq 5

Lexus UX250hHyundai Ioniq 5
TypeHybridAll Electric
Transport large itemsYes, it’s a subcompact SUV but the trunk is small because the battery is thereYes, it’s a subcompact SUV with a large trunk because the battery is in the front
CA RebateNoYes, $2000
Fed Tax CreditNoYes, $7500
ChargingNoYes, ultra fast, 5 mins gets you 60 miles
Must change oil, belt, and filterYesNo
Must get a smog checkYesNo
Must go to a gas stationYesNo, charge at home. Can also charge at a public charging station.
Basic Warranty4 years, 50K miles5 years, 60K miles
Powertrain Warranty6 years, 70K miles10 years, 100K miles
Cost to drive 25 miles$1.97$1.01

EV (Electric Vehicle)

EV Battery Size and Range

  • An EV’s range depends on the size of its battery.
  • Gross Capacity—or Total Capacity—is the total amount of energy a pack can theoretically hold.
  • Net Capacity—or Usable Capacity—is the amount of energy the car can actually draw on to move.

You can see a list of EVs sorted by battery size. The average size is 56.3 kWh. The largest is 107.8 kWh (Mercedes EQS AMG 53 4MATIC+). The smallest is 16.7 kWh (Smart EQ for four).

EV Charging Speed on Level 1, 2, 3 Chargers

Before buying an EV, make sure to research your ability to charge it. Most EV owners install a Level 2 charger in their home which is an added cost. Learn more about EV charging.

Charging LevelPower DeliveryRange Added Per HourTime to Charge 60 kWh EV
Level 11-1.4 kW3-5 miles30-40 hours
Level 23.9-19.2 kW12-80 miles2.5-4.5 hours
Level 324-300 kW75-1,200 miles30-40 minutes
Time to Charge EV with a 60-kWh battery is the time to raise the battery’s charge level from 10% to 80%

The Ioniq 5’s battery pack size is 77.4 kWh, and the maximum continuous draw permitted on a 15A 120V outlet is 12A (incidentally the rate at which Hyundai’s In-Cable Control Box, aka granny charger, tops out in the North American market).

120V * 12A = 1.44 kW, and the charging efficiency lies somewhere between 80 and 90 percent, let’s call it 85. So 77.4 / 1.44 / 0.85 = 63.25 hours, or a bit over 2 days and 15 hours. That said, you’d never use 100% of the battery capacity. If you’re plugging in each night after an average daily commute of 30 miles, you’d be recharged in under 8 hours.

Most EV owners will install a Level 2 charger in their home with between 30 and 40 amp capacity, with 32A being common. Charger efficiency is about 90 per cent at the higher voltage, so 77.4k / (32 * 240) / 0.9 = 11.2 hours from 0 (never drive your EV down to zero!) to 100 per cent.

Browse Level 2 Home Chargers

Screen Capability

So many cars now have touchscreens and the screens are just getting bigger and bigger. Many people use their phones for driving directions, playing music, and more. But, phones screens are small which makes them more difficult to use, especially when driving. Some car screens have maps and driving directions but they’re hard to use and ugly. Tesla car screens have nice maps but Teslas are expensive and you may not want a Tesla. In that case, you may want to get a car that supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

For example, here’s how Google Maps looks on Android Auto.

You can find routes, get real-time alerts, view places on the way, reserve parking, find a charging station, and more.

You can also control music using some apps on your phone like Spotify, Pandora, and Amazon Music.

I personally use the PowerAmp music player. It was upgraded to support Android Auto and the screen looks like this.

Of course, you can all make phone calls and chat as well.

Note that for Android Auto, not all apps are supported.


When considering a new car, there are often more than one trim levels to choose from. Each trim comes with different features. You’ll want to make sure you compare each trim and feature, e.g. does the base model include heated seats, before picking a trim.