Tag Archives: silly spellcheck

Confused About Semicolons? So Is Spellcheck

SemiColon - use it rightDo you get confused about when to use a semicolon?

If so, you’re not alone. So does spellcheck.

This sentence, with the name changed, is from a letter I edited recently for a client:

Charles Smith excelled at his duties while he worked with my team, both as a volunteer and as a paid staff member.

Spellcheck suggested this change: Continue

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You’ll Learn To Love The Interrobang

Interrobang is exclamation point and quetion mark merged into oneWhen you want to express query along with either outrage or extreme surprise or excitement, both the question mark and the exclamation point let you down.

Combining a question mark with an exclamation point yields the interrobang, a form of punctuation that has been around since 1962 but has yet to really catch on.

The Economist, of all publications, featured the interrobang in October 2014, explaining that a mere question mark does not always suffice. Continue

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When Is A Question Not A Question?

Woman with a question mark overhead. When does a question not need a question mark.There are times when something appears to be a question, but it really is a polite request that requires neither a question mark nor a response:
     Will you …
     May I …
     I wonder if …
     Didn’t she …

Consider how it would sound if you were to speak the following requests. You likely would not raise your pitch at the end as you do when you ask a question. You really are not asking someone to do something to which they have the option to reply yes or no; you are making a request that you expect to be met.

May I ask you to please return my call before 5 o’clock.
Will everyone without a ticket please contact the box office by Friday noon.
Could you please send me a list of your core competencies.

Here are four more examples that imply query, but as indirect questions they don’t require a question mark. Contrast them with the true question that follows each: Continue

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Don’t Rely on Spellcheck!

As a ruthless editor, I’ve long known that you can’t count on spellcheck to ensure your document has error-free spelling, perfect punctuation, accurate subject-verb agreement and flawless finer points of grammar.

That being said, I still use it regularly to catch typos or obvious spelling errors. (Errors by me, a writer and editor by trade? Yes, it happens.) Continue

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