“Grisly” vs. “Grizzly”

This one is a simple definition tip. If you want to say that something is particularly horrible, usually in a rather bloody way, you say it is grisly (with an s). If you’re talking about the bear, you use grizzly. The latter can also be used as an adjective to indicate something is streaked with […]

Me, Myself, and I

Let’s talk about me, myself, and I. No, I’m not being narcissistic. This is a huge problem that comes across my desk all the time. I is a subject, which means it acts. (“I talk to him.”) Me is an object, which means things act on it. (“He talks to me.”) Myself is a reflexive […]

Drugs Are Bad, M’kay?

Drug is not—I repeat, not—the past tense of drag. The proper past tense of drag is dragged. For example, “I dragged his sorry butt to the window and threw him out because he wouldn’t stop saying he ‘drug’ the chair across the room.” Drug is a noun (as in medication) and is a verb only […]

Decimal Points with “Cents”

Don’t use decimal points when you use cents. This is one of my pet peeves, something that makes me want to step into a store advertising something for “.99 cents,” hand them one penny, and tell them to keep the change.

Commas with Names and Appellations

When speaking of someone, you can say the person’s name, you can say the person’s appellation (e.g., my sister, the girl, Jeff’s dad, etc.), or you can say both. If you’re going to use both, you need to be aware of the proper use of the comma. If the person is the only one who […]

“Who” or “That”?

Use who instead of that when talking about a person. For example, “Bill was the one who said I should stop.”

Don’t Rely on Your Spell-checker

Because I talked about using the spell-checker yesterday, I feel it’s my duty to say there are lots of things spell-checkers don’t catch. Here’s one that made me laugh: “You won some tennis lesions in the raffle!” Ouch! Tennis lesions? Is that something you get when you grip your racket too hard? Here’s another: “He […]


I hate to be harsh, but really, folks, use your spell-checker! Most software has a spell-checker built in. It’s not the best guide, but it’s better than nothing. Although it won’t tell you when you’ve written form instead of from, it will tell you when you’ve written litttle instead of little. Microsoft Word 2007 (and […]

Bazaar vs. Bizarre

Let’s talk about bazaar and bizarre. I recently edited a manuscript where the writer consistently mixed up those two words. Please note that the former is a market, as one would find in the Middle East. The latter is a synonym for odd, as one would find walking through the halls at a science-fiction convention.

It Just Is!

Sometimes a thing just is. If something is unique, it is the only one. It can’t be very unique or kind of unique or any other unique. The same goes for historic. There cannot be an extremely historic event. It’s either historic or it’s not.

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