This Is Why You Need Me.

Is there anything better than a rejection letter with a typo?

“We chose someone we think better suites the position.”

Let’s play “Find the Typo!”

(This letter was for my friend; she had me read it to her because her hands were full. I read it quietly to myself at first, then when I read it aloud to her, I noticed the typo. She had interviewed for a clerical position. Many lulz were had.)

Spell-Check is Evil.

Don’t trust it. Really. If you are uncomfortable with things like effect/affect, roll/role, or there/their/they’re, you should not trust any spell-check program to do an editor’s work for you. Here’s my no-need-for-further-explanation argument:

While reading a blog post about how best to employ self-editing techniques, one of the sub-headings was “Be Tough.” Another was “Be Fare.”

As in cab fare.

Since “fare” is a word, this went completely unnoticed by the author. Anything I’d just learned in the post was thrown into question–does this person actually know the difference between fair and fare? Is it that this post didn’t matter to the author, and so clicking spell-check was the only “editing” done? Is my precious time not worth a reread?

This author could have published this after ninety readings–who can know? Just remember that a properly spelled word is not always the proper word.

Thank goodness this was only a blog post! Can you imagine having a misspelled tattoo?

Compound Modifiers

She has neon-pink pillows.

The pillows are neon pink.

Compound modifiers are tricky–to hyphenate, not to hyphenate? I had this issue with the first novel I ever edited, because it seemed there were compound modifiers everywhere. After two chapters of confusion, I finally confessed to myself that I wasn’t certain what the rule was, so I went to Grammar Girl’s website.

She explained that a compound modifier appearing before the thing it’s modifying (neon-pink pillows) should* be hyphenated. If it comes after (are neon pink), it should not be hyphenated.

I re-edited chapters one and two and soldiered on.

*Grammar Girl refuses to use “must hyphenate” or “should hyphenate” in this case. Here’s why:

“Now, the detail-oriented people among you will notice that I didn’t say anyone was right or wrong, and I didn’t use strong words such as should hyphenate or must hyphenate. I chose my words carefully because the rules about hyphens can hardly be called rules; there are so many exceptions it’s making me crazy.”

 

Redundancy

The lifeless corpse stood up and wandered aimlessly through the dark night.

The image aside, this sentence is un-publishable; the redundancies within this sentence and others like it are common in writing that will never get past the query stage. Redundancies are tricky because it takes a trained eye to catch some of them, since we speak redundancies all the time:

“Where you at?”

Since only Jennifer Hudson can do redundancy well, the rest of us have to edit it out. My trick to catch redundancies is to think brevity; it’s my mantra when writing and editing. If it can be cut, then I cut it!

-L

Words of the Whenever

Are there and their homonyms or homophones?

They’re (teehee) homophones!

Homophones are words that  are pronounced the same but written differently. Another example is this pair: compliment and complement. (He complimented me on my outfit because of its complementing colors.)

Between Homophones and Homonyms are Homographs, or words that are written the same way but pronounced differently. Think “wind” like Gone With The Wind, and “wind” in “Wind that up!”

Homonyms are words that are spelled and pronounced the same way, like “might” (verbal auxiliary) and “might” (noun). These seem like the scariest of the three, but they’re actually the least confusing–if you meant “might,” but you typed “might,” you’re no worse off. Phew!

Quiz Time!

“Before we went to the festival_ we stopped at the bank.”

The sentence begins with a prepositional phrase, which contains 6 words; therefore, a comma is required.

The rule is that a comma is necessary when the sentence begins with a prepositional phrase of at least 4 words. Therefore, the sentence

“While it rained we played Clue.”

does not require a comma.

Reblog if you already knew this Grammar Tidbit, Grammarphiles!

Apostrophes…

NEVER make something plural. The ‘s on dog’s makes the word POSSESSIVE, so adding ‘s to a word you’re unfamiliar with will do the same thing.

Reblog if you already knew this Grammar Tidbit, Grammarphiles!