#GrammarSeries – This is the difference between critique and criticize


Although it is not correct,  we have realized that some people substitute the words ‘critique’ and ‘criticize’ in sentences. Today, we’d explain the difference between these two words.

Critique can be used either as a verb or a noun. As a noun, it refers to a detailed evaluation of something.  To request for this formally you’d have to say, something like this;

Give me your critique.

As a verb, critique is the act of evaluating something in a detailed and honest manner. A critique does not necessarily have to be negative. 

To criticise however means to find fault with or to judge negatively.

Let’s see a few examples;

I asked him to critique my script; I was happy with the feedback. 

Mr King criticizes a lot. It’s not wise to speak to him

We hope this explains it. 



#GrammarSeries – This is how to use ‘between’ and ‘among’

It is not news that our grammar series has helped clear so many confusions about English language. 

Today we want to clear yet another one.

Many people believe between should be used for choices involving two items and among for choices that involve more than two items. That can get you to the right answer some of the time, but it’s not that simple. 

Here’s the deal – You can use the word between when you are talking about distinct, individual items even if there are more than two of them. For example, you could say, “She chose between Harvard, Babcock, and Bowen university” because they are individual things.

On the other hand, you use among when you are talking about things that aren’t distinct items or individuals. For example, if you were talking about colleges collectively you could say, “She chose among the Ivy League schools in the world.”

If you are talking about a group of people, you also use among:

Look at these examples;

Fear spread among the hostages.

The scandal caused a division among the fans.


#GrammarSeries – All you need to know about non continuous verbs

It is #GrammarSeries on the Sparkle Writer’s Hub blog today and we want to learn about non-continuous verbs. 

Non-continuous verbs are verbs that we do not normally use with continuous tenses. These “stative” verbs are about state, not action, and they cannot express the continuous or progressive aspect. Here are some of the most common non-continuous verbs:

Here are some of the most common non-continuous verbs:

  • Feelinghate, like, love, prefer, want, wish
  • Sensesappear, feel, hear, see, seem, smell, sound, taste
  • Communicationagree, deny, disagree, mean, promise, satisfy, surprise
  • Thinkingbelieve, imagine, know, mean, realize, recognize, remember, understand
  • Other statesbe, belong, concern, depend, involve, matter, need, owe, own, possess

If you’ve been using any of these verbs in the continuous tense you have to stop. 

Look at these examples

I am wanting cake (Wrong)

I want cake (Right)

I am not hearing anything (Wrong)

I can’t hear anything (Right)

Until next week when we bring another series your way, keep your grammar in check. 

#GrammarSeries – The difference between burnt and burned

Hey, Sparkle Writers.

Have you ever burned/ burnt a meal before? How did you relay the information? Most people still do not know which is correct. Burned or burnt?

If you read this post till the end, you will find out. 

Burned and burnt are both acceptable past-tense forms of the verb to burn.

While ‘burned’ is more acceptable in the United States, ‘burnt’ is more acceptable in the United Kingdom. 

So for example, you’d say  

Mom burned the cakes (if you are using the American standard)

Mum burnt the cakes (if you are using the British standard)

In addition, the dictionary of Modern English Usage says that the two forms can have slightly different meanings. For example, if you say a house burnt down, that implies it happened quickly, but people are more likely to use burned for something that took a long time like ‘the fire burned for days’. But this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule.

We hope this helps! 


Culled from GrammarGirl


#GrammarSeries – 20 Ways to Avoid Using The Word ‘Very’

Hello Sparkle Writers! Welcome to another Grammar Series on The Sparkle Writer’s Hub. Today, we want to teach you how to avoid using the word ‘very’ when you write. 

‘Very’ is not a bad word. The problem is that when you use it too much, your creative muscles become lazy. Instead of saying, “I am freezing,” you opt for “I am very cold.” As writers your choice of words matters. ‘Freezing’ evokes more emotion than ‘very cold’.

To help you avoid using the word ‘very’ too often, we have a list of alternatives that you will find useful. 

1.  Very Afraid – Terrified, Frightened.

2. Very Bad – Inadequate, Atrocious.

3. Very Beautiful – Alluring, Exquisite.

4. Very Clever – Intelligent, Brilliant. 

5. Very Happy – Excited, Elated. 

6. Very Worried – Anxious, Distressed. 

7. Very Strong – Powerful, Sturdy.

8. Very Rude – Impolite, Cheeky. 

9. Very Fast – Quick, Swift.

10. Very Slow – Lengthy, Time-Consuming. 

11. Very Thin – Slim, Lean. 

12. Very Quiet – Silent. Tranquil.

13. Very Serious – Solemn, Significant. 

14. Very Neat – Orderly, Immaculate. 

15. Very Tired – Exhausted, Drained. 

16. Very Stressed – Pressurized, Burdened. 

17. Very delicious – Mouth-watering, Appetizing. 

18. Very Risky – Dangerous, Perilous. 

19. Very Big – Spacious, Roomy.

20. Very Important – Critical, Paramount. 

#GrammarSeries – 10 Ways to Improve Your Writing Instantly

Hello Sparkle Writers! Welcome to another Grammar Series. We hope you’ve been learning from our previous posts. Today we want to share 10 ways you can improve your writing instantly. These are little changes you can make to your use of grammar that will make a big difference in the quality of your writing. Are you ready?

1. Prepositions (after, towards, against etc) are not words to end sentences with. Try to use them either at the beginning or in the middle of your sentences. 

2. Avoid cliches like a plague. Why write, “As busy as a bee” when this expression has been overused. Be more creative. 

3. Do not use more words than necessary. It’s superfluous and actually takes away from the true meaning that you intended your words to have. 

4. Avoid profanity as much as you can. Use it sparingly and only when necessary. 

5. The passive voice should ideally be avoided. We’ve discussed this on the blog before. 

6. Depending on the nature of what you are writing, avoid colloquialisms if possible. 

7. Let your use of alliterations be limited. Alliteration is the repetition of the same sound or letter at the beginning of each or most of the words in a sentence. For example, ” Anxious ants avoid the anteater’s advances.” Imagine how your work will be if it is filled with a lot of this. 

8. Do not abbreviate. Try as much as possible to use the full meaning. If it is something you will use several times, then you can abbreviate from the second use. 

9. Be mindful of how you use contractions (don’t, won’t, can’t). Do not over do it. 

10. When in doubt about a word, phrase or grammatical expression, rephrase your sentence to avoid using that word. Better to be safe than sorry 

See you next week! 

#GrammarSeries- Learn about the active and passive voice

It’s time to improve your grammar Sparkle Writers. Are you ready?

Today we are learning about the differences between the active and passive voice.

The active voice is a form of writing or speech in which the subject is performing the action and can take a direct object. The passive voice, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. In this case, the subject undergoes the action of the verb, as opposed to performing the said action.

Now to the bone of contention; ‘Which is most appropriate to use as a writer?’

The answer is…the Active Voice.

We’re sure you are wondering why? We’d give you three reasons;

  1. It makes your write-up clear for your readers.
  2. It utilizes fewer words than passive voice i.e. it prevents wordiness.
  3. The passive voice can cloud the meaning of your sentence.

Here are some examples;

  • She bought the shoes. (Active)
  • The shoes were bought by her. (Passive)

Can you see the difference? A couple of sentences in the passive voice wouldn’t really hurt, but make sure there are only a couple in your articles.

Till next class, keep your grammar in check. 

#GrammarSeries – 10 common phrases that need to be retired

Hello Sparkle Writers! It’s another #GrammarSeries.

Are you ready to learn something new? Well, it is not something new per se. We want to teach you how to add a bit of variety to your writing by replacing some commonly used phrases that have now become boring. 

Here are 10 of such phrases and what you can use to replace them. 

According to. 

You can use the following to replace ‘According to’;

  • In line with 
  • In keeping with
  • As reported in/by
  • As said/ stated in/by
  • On the word of
  • In consonance with

As you can see.

This phrase is just too common. Try replacing it with any of the following;

  • Obviously
  • Evidently
  • Therefore
  • As shown
  • As demonstrated
  • It is easy to see

For example.

This phrase has been programmed into our minds since primary school. Here are other phrases to use in it’s place;

  • Such as
  • For instance
  • In a similar case
  • To illustrate
  • Especially 
  • In addition to
  • Namely 
  • This includes

I don’t like it. 

If you don’t like something, you can say this;

  • That’s not for it
  • I’m not into it
  • I dislike it
  • I’m not fond of it
  • I’m not a big fan of it
  • I don’t appreciate that 

In conclusion.

You’ve said this many times right? Here are some suitable alternatives;

  • In summary
  • All in all
  • To sum up
  • In closing
  • Overall, it may be said
  • All things considered

On the other hand.

This is what you can use instead of ‘On the other hand’;

  • Otherwise
  • However
  • In any case
  • Alternatively 
  • That being said
  • Nonetheless
  • Having said that
  • In contrast 

I don’t know. 

This is the easiest thing to say when you don’t know something but we have some other phrases for you;

  • I don’t have a clue
  • I’m not sure
  • I have no idea
  • I’m unsure
  • Search me

We hope you’ll use some of these phrases 🙂 

#GrammarSeries – Never say ”The reason why.”

This error is so common that it no longer sounds like an error. But, it is!

You may ask what is wrong with saying ”The reason why”. Well, that’s pretty simple – REDUNDANCY!

The word ”why” is a special pronoun that expresses reason. Therefore, saying ”the reason why” is as good as repeating ”reason”. In addition, the pronoun ”why” usually introduces an adverbial clause or phrase, not a noun/nominal phrase. Hence, it cannot serve as the subject of the sentence.

So, instead of saying:

“The reason why she came was to borrow a book.”

Simply say:

“She came to borrow a book.”

“She came because she wanted to borrow a book.”

See you next week! 


#GrammarSeries – 8 boring words you need to stop using right now

Hey Sparkle Writers! Welcome to another #GrammarSeries. 

Today we want to talk to you about words you absolutely need to stop using right now. It’s not that these words are bad but they are stale because they are overused.

You know we always have you covered. As we highlight the words, we will show you words you use in its place.


Do you use the word ‘Pretty’ a lot. We think it’s time to stop. Here are some other words you can use; Beautiful, Lovely, Elegant, Attractive, Handsome, Striking, Gorgeous, Exquisite, Fair, Cute.


This word is overused. Thankfully there are some fantastic alternatives; Compact, Diminutive, Miniature, Slight, Minute, Microscopic, Petite.


Are you fond of saying something or someone is funny, here are other words you can use in its place; Amusing, Humorous, Witty, Comical, Silly, Hilarious, Hysterical, Laughable, Jocular. 


We know we have a lot of nice people around but other words can use used to describe such people; Benevolent, Gracious, Considerate, Decent, Congenial, Courteous, Warm, Cordial, Humane.


Do you know these words can be used to express the same meaning as the word ‘happy’? Merry, Glad, Pleased, Delighted, Jolly, Elated, Thrilled, Cheerful, Jubilant, Joyful.

Run/ Ran

Instead of saying that someone ran away, you can try using any of these words; Bolted, Hurried, Raced, Dashed, Galloped, Jogged, Sprinted, Rushed, Sped, Darted, Trotted.


If something is bad, you can use the following words to convey that; Atrocious, Terrible, Dreadful, Vile, Brutal, Despicable, Sinister, Nasty, Wicked, Abhorent.


It’s very tempting to use the word ‘smart’ when describing someone’s intelligence. Here are some other words you can try; Witty, Sharp, Brainy, Gifted, Wise, Clever, Bright, Quick-Witted, Knowledgeable.