Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0: Which, What, Who?





Every Wednesday, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 features handy tips to enhance all of our writing, from daily emails to articles to books. After all, everyone needs to write, right?



Today, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 takes on the questions from Fi and angel011 from my previous blog. 


Fi wrote: 

Here's a question for you. I tend to use dashes (-) in my blog posts to link ideas. Is this correct or should I be using something else?


Hi, Fi. 

I consulted three sources for your answer.  

The Associated Press Stylebook 2016 states dashes are used “to signal an abrupt change in thought” and sudden breaks in a sentence, along with formulating a series within a phrase. It cautions against “overusing dashes to set off phrases when commas would suffice.”

Chicago Manual of Style 16th Edition dictates dashes should be used “to separate a dependent clause from an independent clause.” 

Strunk and White’s Elements of Style advises the following. “Use a dash to set off an abrupt break or interruption, and to announce a long appositive summary.”

It sounds like commas would be your best bet to link ideas. 


angel011 wrote:

"Which" vs. "That" and "Which" vs. "What". When to use each one?

Hi, angel011.

“Which” or “that” is a tricky situation that confounds everyone. I learned they are interchangeable, except “which” must be preceded by a comma, while “that” doesn’t need one. Here are the experts' opinions.

According to the Chicago Manual of Style, “In polished American prose, ‘that’ is used restrictively to narrow a category or identify a particular item being talked about; ‘which’ is used nonrestrictively — not to narrow a class or identify a particular item, but to add something to an item already identified.”

CMS provides the following examples.

Any building that is taller must be outside the state.
Alongside the officer trotted a toy poodle, which is hardly a typical police dog. 

Strunk and White offers these sentences to illustrate the distinction.

“The lawn mower that is broken is in the garage. (Tells which one)”
“The lawn mower, which is broken, is in the garage. (Adds a fact about the only mower in question)”

Interestingly, CMS adds a caveat. “In British English, writers and editors seldom observe the distinction between the two words.” Readers from the UK, is this true?

I found a great explanation from Mignon Fogarty a.k.a. Grammar Girl on the “what” vs. “which” issue . Click here to read the full article what she has to say. (It’s near the bottom.) Here’s an excerpt from “Bring it or take it?” in the Chicago Tribune online,  December 15, 2010.

"'Which' is generally the best choice when the list of possible answers is limited, and 'what' is generally the best choice for open-ended questions," Fogarty says. "But many questions don't neatly fall into one of these two categories. For example, the 'What actor ... ?' question in Charley's trivia game has so many possible answers that some people may not consider it limited in the same way as a question asking 'Which of these three colors do you like best?'

"Also, the rule is not widely known or followed. Seven out of nine style guides I checked didn't mention it, and although the Chicago Manual of Style states that 'which is usually selective or limited,' the authors also note that either 'which or 'what' is fine when you're referring to a person, animal, or thing."

Sorry, but “what” versus “which” is a little fuzzy at best, angel011.

Hope this helps. If you have other questions, please put them in the comments below or email me at karen@karenberner.com. 







Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0: Thanksgiving Edition





Every Wednesday, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 features handy tips to enhance all of our writing, from daily emails to articles to books. After all, everyone needs to write, right?



I tried to find grammar issues with Thanksgiving words, but there are very few besides cornucopia, which is spelled with a surprising “u,” and that the plural of potato takes an “e,” so it is potatoes

When I was young, I loved the story of Thanksgiving. Our teachers omitted many crucial details about the zealousness and cruelty of the Pilgrims, and I was led to believe everything was lovely as the pilgrims and Native Americans came together for a unity meal. It’s irresponsible to whitewash history, so click here to read what really happened.

Ugh.

As an adult, I’ve come to fashion the holiday as a time to give thanks for what we have. 

Being a writer and editor means I get to work from home, which is pretty great most of the time. The one drawback is that it can be a little lonely with no lunches with co-workers or morning conversations while pouring coffee.

That’s where you come in, dear readers. I’m so grateful for you.

The response to my resurrecting Editing for Grammarphobes has been wonderful. I’m so glad you’re enjoying the series and am very happy to be once again spreading correct grammar around the Internet. 

Reading your comments is like stopping by your office desk for a quick chat. 

I’ve received a few grammar questions and am delighted to have helped. Please keep them coming!

Hope you have a wonderful long holiday weekend. Next week, our alphabet series continues with the letter “I.” 

All the best,

Karen








Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0: What the H...?



Graphic courtesy of Irregular Webcomic.



Every Wednesday, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 features handy tips to enhance all of our writing, from daily emails to articles to books. After all, everyone needs to write, right?


This week, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 explores various grammar and word issues that begin with the letter “H.” And please remember "an" before the word historic. It's not a historic (fill in the rest of the sentence), it's an historic (fill in the rest of the sentence). Grammar lovers everywhere thank you.

Hangar/hanger


Hangar refers to airplane hangars, while hanger spelled with an “e” is the word for clothes hangers.

Hanged/hung


Always a tricky one, hanged is the “past participle of hang only in its transitive form when referring to the killing of a human being by suspending the person by the neck,” according to the Chicago Manual of Style. However, if the death is not intended or likely, or if the person is suspended by a body part other than the neck, CMS goes on to state, hung is correct. One thing is definitely clear, though. CMS states all inanimate objects are hung, such as pictures or Christmas stockings. 

Home in


Yes, that is the correct phrase. Although frequently mistaken as “hone in,” home in refers to what homing pigeons do, getting closer to the target, CMS notes. Besides, hone means to sharpen, so it doesn’t really work in this circumstance.

Hoard/horde


CMS states a hoard is a “supply, usually secret and often valuable.” It can also be a verb meaning “to amass.” Horde is a large crowd, although you might be familiar with the word from its historical reference of The Golden Horde, the western part of the Mongol empire, which flourished from the mid-13th century to the end of the 14th century.

Hopefully


Literally means “in a hopeful manner,” but that archaic definition seems long gone, as more and more the newer meaning of “I hope” is used, much to the bane of many a grammar nazi.





Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0: Questions?





Every Wednesday, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 features handy tips to enhance all of our writing, from daily emails to articles to books. After all, everyone needs to write, right?



I recently received an email from a writer friend of mine. I thought it could be something you might run into with your own writing, so I'm sharing it here today.


Question



Hi Karen,

I'm really enjoying your Grammarphobe posts, but wondered whether you could help me out in advance with a "W" problem! 

I'm getting mixed opinions on whether it is Wi-Fi, WiFi or wifi. Maybe all three are correct in the right place, but this if for a novel. Can you help?

Many thanks in advance.

Mel 

Mel Parish


Answer



It's Wi-Fi. Always, no matter what you are writing.

Hope that helps.


If you have any questions, drop me an email at karen@karenberner.com. 




Monday, November 7, 2016

I'm on Location

Author Lidy Wilks invited me to guest blog at her wonderful site "Paving My Author's Road...One Writing Step at a Time" today. I'm discussing five grammar mistakes and how to fix them.

Click here to read.

We met through the awesome SheWrites website that brings women writers together to share ideas and network.

Lidy's participating in NaNoWriMo, so wish her good luck! She's the author of the chapbook, Can You Catch My Flow?, but poetry is not her only genre. She is currently writing a contemporary romance, as well as a young adult supernatural book. She lives in Virginia with her husband and two children.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0: Oh, Gee!





Every Wednesday, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 features handy tips to enhance all of our writing, from daily emails to articles to books. After all, everyone needs to write, right?



Today, Editing for Grammarphobes tackles issues with words that begin with the letter "G," not anything glamorous or grandiloquent, but good to know nonetheless. See what I did there? *wink*


Gatsbyesque


Did you know that was a real word? I thought it was a colloquialism bandied about in English class, but no, it was added to the dictionary in 1977. The official definition is "resembling or characteristic of the title character or world of the novel The Great Gatsby." Yet another way classic literature affects our language.



Grisly, grizzly


Grisly means horrifying and repugnant, according to The Associated Press Stylebook 2016. It does not have an extra "s," like some think. 

Grizzly is a bear. AP states it can also be a word for grayish. 


Group


Even though it is means a bunch of people, the word group uses singular verbs and pronouns.


Gubernatorial


Gubernatorial means pertaining to a a governor. It's also the adjective form of governor.


All one word, no hyphen


godchild
goddamn
groundskeeper
groupthink
gunbattle 
gunboat
gunfight
gunpoint
gunpowder








Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0: Halloween Edition





Every Wednesday, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 features handy tips to enhance all of our writing, from daily emails to articles to books. After all, everyone needs to write, right?



Boo! With Halloween right around the corner, today's Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 takes a decidedly dastardly turn to discuss spooky words and how to spell them. Happy Halloween, my friends.

Apparition


An apparition is an unusual or unexpected sight. It also can mean a ghostly figure. 

Bloodcurdling


Notice there is no hyphen for the word that means arousing fright. 

Cemetery


For years, I thought cemetery was spelled cemetary. Oh, the horror!

Frightening


With an "en" in the middle. I say "fright-ten-ing" when I'm typing it, so I don't forget.


Mausoleum


A mausoleum is a large, above-ground tomb. It also can be used to describe a large gloomy room or building. 

Here are some other Halloween posts you might enjoy.