Getting to Know Grammar Girl

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Do you ever have trouble picking whether to use "affect" or "effect" in a sentence?

If you've ever done your grammatical due diligence, chances are you've come across Grammar Girl's quick and dirty tips online.

What you probably don't know is that Mignon Fogarty, a.k.a. Grammar Girl, lives in Reno.

"I started a podcast, giving a quick little writing tip, a 5-minute quick and dirty writing tip once a week," said Fogarty. "I was really just doing it as a hobby, something that interested me and was fun to mess around with, and it was wildly popular almost immediately. Within four weeks, it was number two at iTunes in the Podcasting category."

Her journey has landed her on bestseller lists and garnered her educational awards.

"I was so surprised by the immediate success. It wasn't what I was expecting, and then I was covered in Businessweek and CNN and I was on Oprah, and I kept thinking 'Well, this can't last. This will be the last one,' and it just never was," said Fogarty.

Now, eight years after her start, she's published seven books and created an iPad app, a new card game, and a popular website. She's also made her home in Reno.

"I moved to Reno five or six years ago because with the kind of work I do, I can live anywhere," said Fogarty. "So my husband and I moved here, and we fell in love with Reno."

While grammar may seem like an elitist thing to care about, Fogarty said it can make or break your credibility, especially if you're looking for a job.

"People evaluate your ideas based on how you present them, so if you have great ideas, but you're typing them online with typos and misspellings and errors and all lowercase, people discount the quality and value in what you're actually trying to say," said Fogarty. "I believe it's very important to present yourself well online if you want to be taken seriously."

And to be taken seriously, people should probably know the most common grammatical mistake out there.

"People don't know the difference between affect and effect. So, the simple memory trick is, I think of a big black raven sitting on a fence and you're thinking 'Why is that?'" said Fogarty. "Well, raven has the letters "a-v-e-n" and that stands for affect-verb-effect-noun. Affect with an "a" is usually a verb, and effect with an "e" is usually a noun.