Grammar: Things to Remember

Numbers:

  • All numbers between 21 and 99 (except 30, 40, 50, etc) should be hyphenated. Examples: Twenty-three and two hundred and eighty-nine.
  • Numbers should be written in full at the start of a sentence.

One or Two Words:

anyone = any person
Hint: Try replacing the word anyone with any person. If it sounds right, it’s the correct word. If it does not sound right, use any one.

everyday = normal
Hint: Try replacing the word everyday with normal. If it sounds right, it’s the correct word. If it does not sound right, use every day.

everyone = every person
Hint: Try replacing the word everyone with every person. If it sounds right, it’s the correct word. If it does not sound right, use every one.

maybe = perhaps
Hint: Try replacing the word maybe with perhaps. If it sounds right, it’s the correct word. If it does not sound right, use may be.

Okay, I think you get the gist of it. Do the same thing for the following words:

nobody = no person (if it doesn’t sound right use no body)
everybody = every person (if it doesn’t sound right use every body)
sometimes = occasionally (if it doesn’t sound right use some times)

Confusing Words:

Affect = to change (Hint: Try using to transform instead of affect.)
Effect = outcome, consequence or appearance (Hint: Try using either outcome, consequence or appearance instead of effect.)

Allude = refer to indirectly
Elude = to avoid

Already = prior to a specified time
All ready = completely prepared
Hint: The word ready can replace all ready but not already.

Alright = is a nonstandard variant of all right and all use of the word should be avoided.

Bare = exposed
Bear = for every other use except when the meaning is exposed

Breathe (rhymes with seethe) = inhale and expel air from the lungs
Breath (rhymes with death) = the air inhaled or exhaled during breathing

Fewer = not as many, when there is more than one item (i.e. fewer animals)
Less = not as much, when there is one item (i.e. less time)

Lead (rhymes with seed) = to lead, being in charge
Lead (rhymes with bed) = a metallic element
Led (rhymes with bed) = past tense of to lead

Licence = UK/Aus use this word, relates to card/papers
License = US only use this word, relates to allow
Hint: Try using card or papers. If it sounds right use licence. If it doesn’t, use license.

Passed = past tense of to pass
Past = used at all other times
Hint: Try using went past. If it sounds right use passed. If it doesn’t, use past.
But: If the word has is before passed (might be a word or two before), try using gone past instead. If it sounds right use passed. If not, use past.

Grammar: The Parts of Speech

If we examine the words in any sentence, we observe that they have different tasks or duties to perform in the expression of thought.

Savage beasts roamed through the forest.

In this sentence, beasts and forest are the names of objects; roamed asserts action, telling us what the beasts did; savage describes the beasts; through shows the relation in thought between forest and roamed; the limits the meaning of forest, showing that one particular forest is meant. Thus each of these words has its special office (or function) in the sentence.

In accordance with their use in the sentence, words are divided into eight classes called parts of speech,—namely, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections

  1. A noun is the name of a person, place, or thing. Examples: John, brother, Sydney, table, car, anger, song.
  2. A pronoun is a word used instead of a noun. It designates a person, place, or thing without naming it. Examples: I, he, she, that, who, myself, themselves, it, which.

    Nouns and pronouns are called substantives. The substantive to which a pronoun refers is called its antecedent. Some examples are:

    Frank introduced the boys to his father. [Frank is the antecedent of the pronoun his.]

    The book has lost its cover. [Book is the antecedent of the pronoun its.]

    James and Peter served their country in different ways. [Their has two antecedents, connected by and.]

  3. An adjective is a word which describes or limits a substantive.

    The noun box, for example, includes a great variety of objects. If we say wooden box, we exclude boxes of metal, of paper, etc. If we use a second adjective (small) and a third (square), we limit the size and the shape of the box.

    Most adjectives (like wooden, square, and small) describe as well as limit. Such words are called descriptive adjectives.

    We may, however, limit the noun box to a single specimen by means of the adjective this or that or the, which does not describe, but simply points out, or designates. Such words are called definitive adjectives.

  4. A verb is a word which can assert something (usually an action) concerning a person, place, or thing. For example:

    The Wind blows.
    Tom climbed a tree.
    The fire blazed.

    Some verbs express state or condition rather than action.

    The treaty still exists.
    Near the church stood an elm.

    Sometimes a group of words may be needed, instead of a single verb, to make an assertion. This is called a verb-phrase.

    You will see.
    The tree has fallen.
    Our driver has been discharged.

  5. An adverb is a word which modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb.

    Example: “The river fell rapidly,” the adverb rapidly modifies the verb fell by showing how the falling took place.

    Most adverbs answer the question “How?” “When?” “Where?” or “To what degree or extent?”

    Adverbs modify verbs in much the same way in which adjectives modify nouns.

    Example:
    Adjective: A bright fire burned.
    Adverb: The fire burned brightly.

    Adjective and adverbs are both modifiers. Adjectives modify substantives; adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs.

  6. A preposition is a word placed before a substantive to show its relation to some other word in the sentence.

    The substantive which follows a preposition is called its object.

    A preposition is said to govern its object.

    In “The surface of the water glistened,” of makes it clear that surface belongs with water. In “Philip is on the river,” on shows Philip’s position with respect to the river.

    A preposition often has more than one object.

    Over hill and dale he ran.
    He was filled with shame and despair.

  7. A conjunction connects words or groups of words.

    A conjunction differs from a preposition in having no object, and in indicating a less definite relation between the words which it connects.

    In “Time and tide wait for no man,” “The parcel was small but heavy,” “He wore a kind of doublet or jacket,” the conjunctions and, but, or, connect single words time with tide, small with heavy, doublet with jacket.

  8. An interjection is a cry or other exclamatory sound expressing surprise, anger, pleasure, or some other emotion or feeling.

    Interjections usually have no grammatical connection with the groups of words in which they stand; hence their name, which means “thrown in.”

    Examples: Oh! I forgot. Ah, how I miss you! Bravo! Alas!

Source: An Advanced English Grammar with Exercises by George Lyman Kittredge and Frank Edgar Farley, 1913. Now in the public domain.

Difference between “passed” and “past”

Recently, I came across some old critiques other people had written about my work. It was much like walking down memory lane, but for one thing…

I noticed a trend that I don’t think I picked up on at the time. Now, I am worried that I still don’t “get it”. What trend? Well, what is the difference between “passed” and “past”?

I know “passed” relates to movement and “past” relates to time. No issues there. However, when we start talking about adverbs and prepositions, the confusion sets in. Is it?

A lot of ambulances have gone passed, or,

A lot of ambulances have gone past.

Well, “gone” is a movement word and so is “passed”. There are two movement verbs in the one sentence, when you only need one, so the correct one is “past”.

Thanks to Grammar Monster I think I’ve got it straight in my head now. And it’s all because of the following top tip:

Substitute with Went Past

When referring to movement (i.e., not passing tests or handing stuff over), only use passed when it is the past tense of the verb to pass. To test whether passed is correct, substitute it with went past. If your sentence still makes sense, then passed is the correct version.

  • He passed the shop.
  • He went past the shop. (Still makes sense – passed is correct)
  • He skipped passed the shop.
  • He skipped went past the shop. (Not correct – passed is wrong)

Substitute with Gone Past

On occasion, it may be necessary to use gone past to test whether passed is correct. This is because passed is also the past passive participle of to pass.

  • He has passed the dockyard.
  • He has gone past the dockyard. (Still makes sense – passed is correct)

15 Grammar Goofs that Make You Look Silly

Everyone makes mistakes. It’s life! But when you’re an aspiring writer then you should take the time to learn the basics in grammar. Using the wrong word in a sentence can change its meaning. More importantly, it can also make you look silly to the reader.

Here are some basics you should know:

15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly
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Editing Course: Using Technology

Editing and proofreading is not just about printed matter/publications, it also involves working with other technology such as:

A website, where you would proof the pages on-screen and either email, fax or post back the corrections.

A PDF document, where you would proof the document on-screen and email back the corrections.

A Word, RTF or other soft document created in a word processor, where you would edit the document using “Track Changes” and email it back to the client.

An editor/proofreader must understand the processes of doing their work using technology. However, it is up to the individual if these services are offered. Of course, the more flexible you are, the better for you.

How Much to Charge

To start with you would probably charge about $20 – $25 per hour, but this will increase to $25 – $35 per hour as you gain experience. This is the same amount you would charge to edit/proofread hard copies.

Remember, proofreading attracts a lower fee – $20 – $25 per hour. Copyediting is around $25 – $35 per hour. And substantive editing is $40 upwards.

Keep in mind also that you will probably have to print out the soft document as it is usually easier to work with.

Technology Jargon

It is always helpful to know the jargon when using technology. Here is a short list of meanings:

These days it is not uncommon to see “e” in front of words (for example, email, e-zine, e-commerce, ebooks). The “e” means electronic.

“Uploading files” means sending files.

“Downloading files” means receiving files.

“PDF” means portable document format.

“RTF” means rich text format.

“Log in” means to access an account (and is two words).

When editing/proofreading, it is important to remember the following:

Internet should always be spelt with a capital “I” as it is a proper noun.

World Wide Web should always be capitalised too, for the same reason.

Web, when referring to the Internet, should be capitalised as it is the formal abbreviation of a proper noun.

Email can be hyphenated (e-mail) or can be written without the hyphen (email), but all other “e” words should be written with the hyphen, unless house-style dictates otherwise.

Using Spelling and Grammar Checkers

It is dicey to use spell checkers included in word processors as they are unreliable.

Use them only if you have the right one installed for your location (ie it is no use using a US spell checker if you are in Australia), and you only use it to pick up everyday typos at a glance. Do not depend on them and always edit your own work for errors.

Remember, these checkers are often wrong!

Editing Course: Perfect Punctuation II

When editing manuscripts for books, it’s important to understand the use of inverted commas for speech, quotes and apostrophes.

Speech Marks: Single or Double?

We use speech marks (ie “…” or ‘…’) in novels, magazines and newspapers to indicate when a person is talking.

Different countries have their own standards when displaying speech marks. In Australia and England the standard is to use single inverted commas for adult fiction and non-fiction.

When using single speech marks (ie ‘…’) and you need to quote a section of text within the speech, the quoted section would use double speech marks (ie “…”). Example: ‘Jim told me “it would be better for everyone”, but I don’t agree with him.’

In contrast, many children’s publishers in Australia and England use double speech marks for dialogue in picture books and early readers.

Magazines and newspapers also have adopted the double speech marks, and use single speech marks for quoted sections with text. However, they use double speech marks for stand alone quotations.

It is recommended to authors to use double speech marks as it is easier to do a find and replace to change double to single than the other way round because of apostrophes.

Conventional Usage for Punctuation with Speech

Should the comma/full stop/question mark/exclamation mark be inside or outside the quotation marks? It’s not an easy question to answer as there is no definitive answer.

In America these marks always go inside the speech marks. In Australia and England it changes depending on the situation.

This is quoted from the Australian Style manual:

In North America it is conventional for closing quotation marks to follow commas, but to precede semi-colons and colons. In Britain the situation is not quite as simple, although it is more logical. If the quoted material would have contained the punctuation mark in the absence of any interruption, the punctuation mark stays inside the closing quotation marks. On the other hand, if the punctuation is part of the carrier sentence it follows the closing quotation mark.

For example, when the punctuation closes the entire carrier sentence, not just the dialogue:

Josie faced her husband and said, “James, I’m leaving you”.

or

“James, I’m leaving you,” said Josie, facing her husband.

Alternatively, when the punctuation is part of the dialogue:

Josie faced her husband. “James, I’m leaving you.”

Other Things to Remember

Thoughts: Never use inverted commas for speech as it will confuse the reader. They will be unable to determine if the characters are speaking or thinking. The standard convention is to use italics for thought.

Dialogue Breaks: This is not a universal rule, but generally a new paragraph should start whenever the dialogue changes to a different character. This is a clear indication that someone else is speaking. Some authors prefer to run the dialogue on in certain cases such as writing style, to show several people are talking at once or to speed the pace up.

Quote Marks: As with speech marks, the use of quote marks can vary from country to country. They can be single or double inverted commas, but they must be the opposite of speech marks when used to together. Style is an in-house preference and should be consistent.

Apostrophes

Apostrophes are used in a range of text, such as when contracting two words into one (“it’s” for “it is”), for showing singular possession (Tim’s pen) and plural possession (Jones’s car).

There is a rule for when using apostrophes with names ending in “s”. If the word has one syllable (eg James) then you would add the extra “s” (eg James’s book). If the word has two or more syllables (eg Collins), you would not add the extra “s” (eg Collins’ house).

Many people ignore this rule and use only one “s” all the time as they prefer this method.

Knowing when to use an apostrophe when it comes to time can be tricky. The rule, however, is quite simple. For day, month and year the apostrophe is only used when referring to one of them, but is not used when referring to more than one. Examples are:

One day’s salary
Five days experience
One month’s anniversary
Ten months old
One year’s weather pattern
Twenty years weather pattern

Other Things to Remember

Ellipsis Points: When text is omitted from the start three full stops (ellipsis points) followed by a space are used before the rest of the text.

Example: … as can be seen here.

When omitting text from the end of a sentence you insert a space followed by the ellipsis points.

Example: “Did you mean …?” Pat gasped.

When used in the middle of a sentence the use of ellipsis points can indicate one of two things, words have been omitted or hesitancy. The ellipsis points would have a space before and after them.

Example: “Oh … I … didn’t mean that.”

In some countries the ellipsis may be spaced out (. . .) with or without a space before and after the points.

Salutations: The standard is not to use punctuation after salutations.

Example: Mr Smith rather than Mr. Smith

Greetings: The standard is the same as for salutations, not to use punctuation.

Example: Dear John rather than Dear John,

or

Yours sincerely rather than Yours sincerely,

Working on Punctuation

Copyeditors and proofreaders need to be focused when working on documents with lots of dialogue as the mind picks up what it should see, not always what is there.

To develop loyal clients, it is important to slow down and put extra effort into punctuation. It is important to hand back a thorough job instead of a job that still has lots of uncorrected mistakes. If you do this, the client will not come back to you again and they certainly won’t recommend you to others.

Important Note: No matter what the standard, it is all about consistency. If punctuation is used throughout the entire document in a certain way then check with the client prior to marking it up as it might be an in-house preference and not considered an error at all.

More than just “Find and Replace”

I discovered, the other day, that Word has a nifty feature that might prove invaluable.

Find and replace.

Yes, I knew about the normal operation of “find and replace”, but I didn’t know you could use this feature to turn all words in italic to underlined instead. This would literally save hours and hours of work if a publisher’s submission guidelines insisted on this.

Another thing it can do is search and replace spaces. If you are like me and were taught to type with two spaces between sentences, but submission guidelines say it has to be one space, then this feature will become your new best friend. Guaranteed!

This is how you do it (curtesy of David Meadows, a member of my message board):

Select Replace from the Edit Menu (or Ctrl-H)

Click the “More” Button.

Click “Format” and select “Font” from the drop-down.

Select “Italic” and click OK. If you’ve done it right, it will say “Format: Font: Italic” under the “Find what” box (the box itself should be blank, as you don;t want it to find any specific text.)

Click in the “Replace with” box.

Click “Format” and select “Font” from the drop-down.

Select “Underline” and click OK.

Click “Find Next” or “Replace” or, if you’re confident, “Replace All”.

Some Dos and Don’ts in Writing

I found this simple page of Some Dos and Don’ts in writing. Some of the things listed are common sense, but others may not be so well known.

However, one of them I didn’t understand at all and would appreciate some enlightenment. Maybe I’m not fully awake, although I should be it’s almost 1pm, or maybe my brain isn’t working, but the following means nothing to me. It’s complete gibberish.

Case: “There is perhaps no single word so freely resorted to as a trouble-saver,” says Gowers, “and consequently responsible for so much flabby writing.” Often you can do without it. There are many cases of it being unnecessary is better as It is often unnecessary. If it is the case that simply means If. It is not the case means It is not so.

Edit: OK, it’s starting to sink in now. I think I’ve almost got it.