Tag Archives: grammar rules

3 Quiz Questions for National Punctuation Day

www.RuthlessEditor.comSunday, Sept. 24, 2017, is National Punctuation Day.

How will you celebrate?

I’ve thought about spending the day as founder Jeff Rubin suggested:

Sleep late. Go out for coffee and a bagel. Read a newspaper and use a red pen to circle all the punctuation errors. Visit a grocery store and make a list of all the “grocer’s apostrophes” you see (apple’s anyone?).

But I’d rather devote my time and this space to something helpful and constructive for you, my valued readers. Continue

Like it? Share it!
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Is ‘Ones’ a Valid Word?

www.RuthlessEditor.comIf one is defined as being or amounting to a single unit, how can the plural form ones be a valid word?

We recognize one when appropriately used as a personal pronoun referring to an individual or people in general:

One never knows how much good comes from a kind deed.

One should not drink and drive.

One also has a possessive form:

One’s home is one’s castle.

One’s health is more important than one’s wealth.

Yet enwiktionary.org defines ones as the plural of one.

Huh?

I’ve noticed ones in a number of online news reports, and I’m puzzled — and discouraged — by its use. Here are examples and my suggestions for rewrites: Continue

Like it? Share it!
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

French fries or french fries? How to Capitalize Food Names

www.RuthlessEditor.comI thought the geographic locations of food names such as French (fries), Swiss (cheese) and Russian (dressing) always were capitalized. I just learned that this Ruthless Editor was wrong … sort of.

When searching online for clarification, I found this wonderful post on one of my favorite websites: grammarphobia.com

Hosted by Patricia T. O’Conner and Stewart Kellerman, it provides a comprehensive explanation of what to capitalize when.

The post: How to Capitalize Food Names Continue

Like it? Share it!
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

May 3 or May 3rd: Should You Use Superscript Letters With Dates?

www.RuthlessEditor.comDo you sometimes add st, nd, rd and th in their superscript form to numbers: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th? (A superscript is a number, letter or symbol positioned slightly above the normal line of type.)

A blog subscriber questioned whether such a practice conforms to grammar rules related to writing dates. Here’s what I found in my online search.

I’ll start with The Associated Press Stylebook, my primary go-to reference: Continue

Like it? Share it!
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Your English Teacher Was Wrong: You MAY Start a Sentence with And, But, So

www.RuthlessEditor.comA new academic year begins soon. As students of all ages head back to school, many will work on developing or fine-tuning their writing skills.

Different teachers will have different expectations — and different grammar rules. Some will claim that you shouldn’t start a sentence with And, But or So.

Is that a valid edict? It depends.

And, but and so serve as conjunctions; they’re joiners.

As such, they can be the perfect transition between one thought and another when your writing has an informal tone. Continue

Like it? Share it!
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

‘Icky’ Words — Politics, Ethics, Optics — and Their Verbs

www.RuthlessEditor.comYou’d have a hard time finding a news report these days that doesn’t include the word politics. Ethics and optics often aren’t far behind.

But which is correct:

Politics are in the news every day.

Politics is in the news every day.

Here’s how you determine whether to use the singular verb is or the plural form are with politics and other ics words. Continue

Like it? Share it!
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Periods and Commas Are Ultimate Insiders

www.RuthlessEditor.comWhen you start writing, whether an email, a blog, a report or the next chapter of your book, you don’t want to interrupt your flow by stopping to ponder punctuation. It makes sense to get out your words and thoughts first, postponing punctuation decisions until later.

As you begin to fine-tune your copy, you might get stuck trying to remember what goes inside and what goes outside quotation marks. These tips can help.

In American English, commas and periods always go inside quotation marks, even when quotation marks enclose a single word. Continue

Like it? Share it!
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Less vs. Fewer with Time, Distance, Money

www.RuthlessEditor.comI’ve written before about the difference between less and fewer:

Grammar Pet Peeves

Misused Words

Bad Grammar in Marketing

Making the right choice continues to be confusing — sometimes even for me!

In a recent editing project, I suggested a change in some copy related to end-of-life care decisions.

Here was the original wording: Continue

Like it? Share it!
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail