Tag Archives: Grammar

Avenge or revenge?

In our discussions on ‘Hamlet’ some queries have arisen on the use of ‘avenge’ and ‘revenge’ – when is each word to be used? It is very simple. Avenge is a verb and revenge is a noun.

Avenge (v.) to inflict harm in return for (an injury or wrong); to inflict retribution on behalf of (a wronged person).

Hamlet was instructed by the ghost to avenge his ‘murder most foul’.

Revenge (n.) retaliation for an injury or wrong; the desire to repay an injury or wrong.

Hamlet’s revenge was a drawn-out affair. He did not keep his word when he said ‘that I, with wings as swift / As meditation or the thoughts of love, / May sweep to my revenge’.

The noun revenge may be put into verb form in the following ways:

to revenge oneself, to be revenged, to take revenge, to exact revenge.

It may also be used as an adjective:

It is easy to see that Hamlet’s murder of Claudius is a revenge killing.

Some common abstract nouns

Some positve abstract nouns:

happiness, amusement, beauty, joy, faith, hope, success, pleasure, peace, wonder, love, wisdom, sanity, mirth, affection, courage, music, patience, tolerance, justice, freedom, liberty, equality, dream, laughter, ambition, companionship, truth . . .

Some negative abstract nouns:

pain, disease, agony, misery, suffering, fear, sorrow, terror, hate, worry, anxiety, despair, grief, shortcoming, bitterness, envy, spite, jealousy, ugliness, adversity, thirst, frustration, anger, loathing, hatred, evil, nightmare . . .

Are there any more?

Some common collective nouns

a herd of cows

a herd of elephants

a herd of deer

a flock of sheep

a flock of birds

an army of soldiers

a regiment of soldiers

a hive of bees

a swarm of bees

a host of locusts

a collection of stamps

a throng of merrymakers

a gaggle of geese

a shoal of fish

a band of robbers

a pride of lions

a library of books

a brood of chicks

a crew of sailors

a constellation of stars

a pack of wolves

a pack of cards

a batch of loaves

a flight of stairs

a flight of finches

a fleet of ships

a fleet of cars

a crowd of people

an exaltation of larks

a school of whales

a mass of people

a bunch of grapes

a bunch of flowers

a colony of ants

a team of players

a gang of thieves

a gang of workmen

a litter of kittens

a litter of puppies

a tribe of monkeys

a tribe of people

Are there any more?

Dangling and Misplaced Modifiers

A modifier is a word or phrase that describes something.

There are two common types of modifiers in the English language:

  1. Adverbs – describing verbs
  2. Adjectives – describing nouns

Confusion can be caused when a modifier is placed too close to some other word that it does not intend to modify. The result can be humorous, but it is grammatically incorrect. Look at the following examples:


  1. A woman passed by, leading a springer spaniel in a long black dress.
  2. Hopping briskly though the vegetable garden, I saw a toad.
  3. My cousin went on and on, describing the details of her wedding in the elevator.
  4. The guide found the lion following its trail.
  5. John and Mary found the flowers hiking up the mountain.
  6. I found my missing gloves cleaning my room.
  7. Don’t try to pat the dog on the porch that is growling.
  8. The photojournalist took a photo of a demonstrator with a long lens camera.
  9. From our seats we could see the stage clearly in the balcony.
  10. The guest speaker had dedicated his book to his dog who was an archaeologist.
  11. I bought the red coat from the shop owner with the large pockets.
  12. Peering through the trees, the path was evident.
  13. The smoke alarm went off while cooking my dinner.
  14. A young woman knocked on the door wearing a suit and a hat.
  15. My mother found a parcel outside our house tied with ribbons.
  16. Covered in cream cheese, my friends will love these bagels.
  17. Reading a book, the cat crawled into my lap.
  18. The library has several books about dinosaurs in our school.
  19. We saw a herd of sheep on the way to our hotel in Wales.
  20. Dipped in cream, many people love fresh strawberries.
  21. I sent a poster to Jane rolled in a tube.
  22. While doing the dishes, a mouse ran across the floor.
  23. I gave olives to my friend that I stabbed with my fork.
  24. While typing my report, the keys jammed.
  25. While flying over the lake, the skyscrapers of Chicago appeared in the distance.