Apostrophes, Apostrophes Everywhere!

If you’re going to cut words off with an apostrophe, make sure you put the apostrophe in the right place and turn it the correct direction. For example, cutting of so it’s o’ as in top o’ the mornin’ is easy enough. Most people don’t make a mistake there. However, rock ’n’ roll tends to […]

“In Spite Of” vs. “Despite”

Elizabeth Stoops, one of my Facebook friends, asked me to point out the differences between in spite of and despite. I admit that I didn’t think there was a difference in their meanings, so I looked up despite in the dictionary. It turns out I was right. The dictionary definition of despite is in spite […]

“Affect” vs. “Effect”

Let’s talk about affect and effect. In most cases, affect will be used as a verb and effect will be a noun. For example, “The effect you have on me affects my state of mind.” There is your rule of thumb. A lot of people remember the difference by saying action starts with a and […]

When to Use Thy or Thine

The thing that generated the most comments (and confusion) the other day on Facebook was Elizabethan English. Here’s a good resource. If you’re going to write in this flowery form, you need to make sure you get it right. However, I really would suggest you avoid it if you can. There are other ways to […]

Punctuation around “However”

Kelly Szabo asked about punctuation around “however,” thinking that it required a semicolon before. The fact is that it gets a semicolon only if what follows is a complete sentence. The examples she used were “I had a bad day; however, I did manage to find a penny on the sidewalk” and “I had a […]

Even the Pros Get It Wrong Sometimes

I love it when I learn something new from a client. I’m working on a textbook at the moment, and the author asked me about a comma I added. In looking up the rule to reference it when I corrected him, I realized I’d been doing it wrong. Note that the rule states that the […]

“Would” Is Confusing!

Krista Wallace wanted to know if “I would have liked to have…” is redundant. The short answer is no. “Would have” in this case is used in the past perfect conjugation, indicating an action in the past that is completed (or in this case should have been completed). The have that is paired with liked […]

Making Plurals

This goes out to Carol Berg, who says it’s “epidemic.” Do not use an apostrophe to form a plural (e.g., DVD’s). To make a word plural, you add an “s” and nothing else. If the word ends in an “s” already, it gets “es” and nothing else to make it plural. The apostrophe is used for […]

“Sometimes” vs. “Some Times”

This is a request that came up. (I’m always happy to take requests.) According to Webster’s, “sometimes” is an adverb, essentially meaning occasionally. “Some times” are two words, an adjective and a noun. “Some” refers to an unspecified number, and “times” refers to an occasion. When all is said and done, it seems to me […]

“Arcane” vs. “Archaic”

Some people seem to think that arcane and archaic are synonyms. Don’t make this mistake. Arcane refers to something that is known to only a choice few, something that is possibly mysterious or obscure. Archaic refers to something that is outdated, antiquated, and/or surviving from an earlier period.

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