Grammar

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How to Use the Semicolon to Connect Your Thoughts & Clarify Your Meaning

Editing / Grammar / Usage / Language & Editing

As an icebreaker activity in one of my publishing courses, a teacher asked us to give our names, what we liked to read for fun, and what our favourite punctuation marks were—something editors are likely to feel strongly about, even if no one else does. Ampersands were praised for their aesthetic appeal, em dashes for their versatility, and the Oxford (or serial) comma for its unfailing commitment to clarity....

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Possessives: Some Basic Rules on Using “s” and an Apostrophe

Editing / Grammar / Usage / Style

The most common mistakes with grammar often involve seemingly simple things. In English, possession is indicated using an apostrophe and, usually, an added “s. ” But maybe because spoken English doesn’t mark the difference between plurals and possessions, such as in “dogs” and “dog’s,” it is common even for experienced writers to make mistakes. This blog reviews some of the basic rules that can help you avoid these...

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To Friend or Unfriend? The Evolution of Nouns into Verbs

Editing / Grammar / Usage / Style / Usage

In 2009, “unfriend” was the Oxford American Dictionary’s Word of the Year, leading to teeth-gnashing of grammar purists across the world. How could this be? How did “unfriend” become a word at all, when “friend,” until not so long ago, wasn’t even a verb, but merely someone with whom you enjoyed spending time?   The English language, like all languages, is constantly evolving. “Unfriend” may still seem strange to us,...

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Tidying-Up Your Academic Writing: The Magic of the Reverse Outline

Editing / Grammar / Usage / Style / Editor/writer

January is the time of year when we begin hearing from students who need help with their dissertations, theses, and papers. To help them out, we're revisiting this blog from TEC's archives on how to craft a reverse outline! ***** Could your academic writing use a good de-cluttering?   While doing structural editing for a client—especially with graduate students’ theses or dissertations—I’ve often found myself using the same little trick when faced with...

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The Online World of Grammar and Usage: Reliable Online Editorial Resources

Editing / Grammar / Usage / Style / Editor/writer

Although you’re unlikely to find many writers or editors willing to give up the hard copies of their dictionaries or style and usage guides, working as a writer or editor in the 21st century has its perks: the list of reliable online editorial resources gets longer every year. Here’s a great listing to get you started.   Online Style Guides Online bastions of editorial integrity include well-known editorial authorities such as...

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3 Ways Editors Can Keep Current

Editing / Grammar

At this year's EAC conference, a major theme was professional development and keeping up-to-date. Just as a physicist must keep abreast of advances and innovations in her field, so too must the editor keep up with the constant evolution of language. As keynote speaker Carol Fisher Saller pointed out, you may have learned to never split infinitives (see what I did there?), but that was twenty years ago....

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Debatable Grammar: Impact as a Verb

Editing / Grammar

In last week’s blog, Camille mentioned her disdain for the use of the word “impact” as a verb. You’re definitely not in a one-person battle, Camille. I, and surely many others, wholeheartedly agree.   I had an experience with this word several years ago while I was watching the Academy Awards ceremony. A young starlet approached the microphone to present the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. She...

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Crash Blossoms: Headlines Gone Wrong

Editing / Grammar

Crash blossoms: Headlines Gone Wrong Shealah Stratton   What’s a crash blossom, you ask? Ben Zimmer wrote an article about the phenomenon in the Language Section of the New York Times in early January 2010. He provided an insightful look into the construction of newspaper article titles and how the removal of “little words” can result in a headline that is often cryptic, confusing, or humorous when it’s not meant to be. ...

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