Tag Archives: blogging

When Does a Compound Modifier Need a Hyphen?

woman ponders compound modifiersModifiers are words that provide additional information about or limit the meaning of a word or phrase.

Adjectives modify nouns (person, place, thing). They often are called “describing words,” because they provide more details about a noun.

  • She has a pleasant home.
  • There are three boys sitting on the fence.
  • He’s riding the white horse.

Adverbs modify verbs (action), adjectives, and even other adverbs. They answer questions such as when, where, how, and to what extent.

  • when: She travels to Chicago weekly.
  • where: He dropped the shovel there.
  • how: She pedals her bike furiously.
  • to what extent: He mostly agrees with me.

When a single modifier won’t do the job, a hyphen links the elements to form a compound modifier:

  • She holds a full-time job.
  • He is a good-looking man.

The Associated Press Stylebook, my primary grammar reference, has issued new recommendations for how to hyphenate compound modifiers. Continue

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What Is a Style Guide, and Why Do You Need One?

Whether for a person, a product, a service or an organization, creating a distinct, consistent brand is key to success.

Your brand sets you apart. You achieve a unique brand through images (your logo and product photos), through website content (descriptions of products and services), and through whatever additional forms of marketing and advertising you use.

Behind the scenes, your brand is supported by how you communicate with and serve your customers. Continue

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How to Use Apostrophes to Show Possession

apostrophe with possessivesConfused about where to place the apostrophe when you’re creating possessives?

So am I — especially when a noun (person, place or thing) or proper noun (specific person, place or thing) ends in the letter s or ss.

Consider these examples and how you would pronounce them: Continue

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Capitalize iPad or eBay to Start Sentence?

iPhone_orIPhoneMost of us know to capitalize the first letter of a sentence. It’s one of the few written-in-stone grammar rules.

But what about the i in iPhone or the e in eBay? Aren’t those registered brand names?

Do you write “iPhone prices will drop this fall” or “IPhone prices will drop this fall”? Continue

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Should ‘Such As’ Be Preceded By a Comma?

comma w/such asIf you visit online grammar forums, you know that the comma is the most asked-about punctuation mark.

If you get confused about comma use with such as, you have company: me!

Let’s look at some examples and some explanations.

Nonessential such as

Consider that we often use such as when we present an example of something:

  • Please paint red flowers.
  • Please paint red flowers, such as roses, poppies and tulips.
  • We’ll spend this year’s vacation traveling to an island country.
  • We’ll spend this year’s vacation traveling to an island country, such as Australia or New Zealand.
  • To become a competent blogger, you need to understand how to use punctuation marks.
  • To become a competent blogger, you need to understand how to use punctuation marks, such as apostrophes and commas.

Continue

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Twitter Grammar: Do You Tweet Out, Tweet In, or Just Plain Tweet?

tweet_or_tweet_out?A recent online post about tweeting caught my attention:

“I understand that tweet already means to send a message, but I am hearing tweet out more frequently. Isn’t tweet out a redundancy in the category of revert back, continue onrise up and drop down?”

As a ruthless editor sensitive to redundancies, I’ve had this question, too.

We see plenty of tweet out in politics and sports: Continue

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When Does a Sentence Need ‘That’?

students_at_computerWe judge writing in part by how lean it is; proficient writers, bloggers, students — and ruthless editors — strive to convey a thought using the fewest words.

In my own writing and the editing I do for others, I sometimes pause when I come to that in a sentence: Is it necessary for clarity or flow? What are guidelines for the use of that?

There aren’t many! Writers can exercise discretion about when and how to use that.

Let’s start with some examples showing how the absence of that might cause a reader to pause and reread: Continue

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Baby sit, Pet sit, House sit: One Word, Two Words or Hyphenate?

pet-sitting cat & dogA Ruthless Editor blog follower noted that babysitting, which first appeared in the U.S. lexicon in 1937, is generally expressed as one word.

Yet she finds pet sitting and house sitting often expressed as two words, and in some cases they are hyphenated. Which are correct: pet sit / pet-sit / petsit or house sit / house-sit / housesit?

As I did the research, it occurred to me that some might consider this issue trivial in terms of grammar. On the other hand, these words could readily arise in news writing, fiction or blogging.

Here are some reliable sources and how they present all three: baby sit, pet sit and house sit: Continue

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What is Syntax, and Why Does it Matter in Writing and Speaking?

guy_edits_syntaxIf you haven’t heard my definition of grammar, here it is:

Grammar encompasses the words we choose, how we string them together, and how we punctuate them to give them meaning.

The stringing-words-together part is called syntax: the arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences.

Why should you pay attention to syntax? Because the order of your words can be critical to making your message clear.

Consider these examples from a variety of online sources. You’ll find the original sentence, what’s wrong with it in terms of syntax, and a rewrite. Continue

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Can Google Be a Verb?

woman thinking about Google searchAs is the case with many nouns in the English language, frequent usage dictates that Google has evolved to a status of both a noun and a verb.

As a noun, Google is a search engine you can use to find a variety of online information. As a proper noun (a specific person, place or thing) and a trademark, it is capitalized.

As a verb, google is the action of using the search engine Google to find information on the internet. When used as a verb, google can be capitalized or expressed in lowercase letters.

Example: If you want to know who founded Google, just google it!
(Answer: Larry Page and Sergey Brin, in case you really want to know.) Continue

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