I originally blogged this in 2013, but without the photo. Too many people misuse the word “literally”, so I will share it again for those who need to see it.
Do your readers a favour and check out this brief article by Melissa Culbertson: https://blogclarity.com/grammar-spelling-blogging/
I originally posted this is 2013. Here it is again.
My blog doesn’t have a specific theme, but it does lean in the direction of the subjects of writing, grammar, and general wordsmithery – not that the latter is an actual English word, but it is an example of what can be done when one smiths words.
I want to share a link to a Facebook group for those who love the English language. It is called “Logophiles and Wordsmiths”. It was born on Sunday, February 7, 2016, in British Columbia, Canada, weighing 8 lbs, 4 oz (just kidding on the weight), so at the time of this blog entry, it is still very new.
Check out the description. If you think you’d feel comfortable with such a group, I invite you to join. Please note, if you do not know how to properly use “your/you’re”, “there/their/they’re”, “where/were”, and other common English written words, this is not the place for you. This is our haven from the sights of poor writing. If you ever end a sentence with the personal pronoun “I”, you will be removed.
If improper writing chafes your butt, you might enjoy not only the break from seeing such textual indiscretions, but also the camaraderie of others who appreciate and strive for fine English writing.
Oh, but we are not a stodgy bunch! There has been a lot of laughter in there, and I anticipate more of it.
Here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/logophilesandwordsmiths/
I hope to see some more logophiles and wordsmiths in the group soon!
When you want to say “et voila!”, that is how it is spelled. It’s a French saying that is the equivalent of the English idiom “there you go”.
Please don’t say “viola” unless you are talking about the stringed instrument that is similar to a violin.
I just saw someone type “viola” when they meant “voila”, and it made me cringe, so here I came to gripe about it.
- Affect vs. effect. The easiest way to remember the difference between the two is affect means “to influence.” So if you’re going to influence something, you will have an affect. If it’s the result of something, it’s an effect.
- The Oxford comma. In a series of three or more terms, you should use what’s referred to as the Oxford comma. This means you should have a comma before the word “and” in a list. For instance: The American flag is red, white, and blue. Many people debate this, but I’m a believer in it because there are times when you don’t have the extra comma and the sentence doesn’t make sense. I prefer to err on the side of having the Oxford in there.
- Commas, in general. And speaking of commas, slow down when you’re writing and read your copy out loud. You don’t want to make this mistake: Let’s eat grandma vs. let’s eat, grandma. Poor grandma will be eaten if you forget the comma.
- Their, they’re, and there. You’d think everyone learned this rule in fourth grade, but it’s a very common mistake. Use “there” when referring to a location, “their” to indication possession, and “they’re” when you mean to say “they are.”
- Care less. The dismissive “I could care less” you hear all the time is incorrect. If you could care less, that means there is more you could care less about the topic. Most people omit the “not” in that phrase. It should be, “I couldn’t care less.”
- Irregardless. This word doesn’t exist. It should be regardless.
- Nauseous. How many times have you said you felt nauseous? This is incorrect. You feel nauseated. Nauseous means something is sickening to contemplate.
- Your and you’re. Another mistake you see in people’s social media profiles and in the content they create is not correctly using “your” and “you’re.” If you’re meaning to say “you are,” the correct word is “you’re” (like at the beginning of this sentence). Otherwise the word is “your.”
- Fewer vs. less. Another common mistake, “less” refers to quantity and “fewer” to a number. For instance, Facebook has fewer than 5,000 employees.
- Quotation marks. Among great debate, people ask all the time whether or not punctuation belongs inside or outside quotation marks. It belongs inside.
- More than vs. over. I’m pretty sure the advertising agency created this grammatical error. Instead of saying, “We had more than 50 percent growth” in ad copy, “over” allows for more space. So they say, “We had over 50 percent growth.” Drives. Me. Crazy.
- Me vs. I. I was reading something by a big muckety muck the other day and the copy read, “This year has brought a big personal development for my wife and I…” No, no, no! If you were going to say that without the mention of your wife, you wouldn’t say, “This year has brought a big personal development for I.” You would say “me.” So this year has brought a big personal development for my wife and me.
I think there are a lot of people afraid of me.
I mean, the word “me” – not me personally.
It is okay to use the word “me”, folks.
I cringe when I see misuse of the personal pronoun “I”.
I often see examples of what NOT to do in captions under photos on Facebook, such as:
“Sally and I at Disneyland”
“Mom and Dad at John and I’s Wedding”
“Baby Boy with Daddy and I”
“Hilda gave these flowers to Suzy and I”
Perhaps as a child, when you said, “Doug and me are going to the store,” you were corrected by some well-meaning person, “You mean, ‘Doug and I are going to the store,” so you assumed that every time you say “me” you should replace it with “I”, regardless of where it falls in the sentence.
An easy test to see if you’re using your words properly is to ask yourself, “Does this sentence still make sense if I remove the other person?”
This even works in phrases that are not actual sentences, such as photo captions. Watch this:
“Sally and I at Disneyland”.
Remove Sally from the picture and see if it still makes sense.
“I at Disneyland”.
Um, no. Sounds dumb.
The phrase “Me at Disneyland” sounds better, albeit a little Captain Caveman-ish, but it’s just a caption and not an actual sentence so you can get away with it that way.
“Mom and Dad at John and I’s Wedding”.
That is not the easiest thing to caption, but I would do it like this:
“Mom and Dad at John’s and my wedding.”
1. Ask yourself if the sentence or phrase still makes sense without mention of the other person.
2. When dealing with more than one person and yourself, mention the other(s) first.
3. Never end a sentence with “I”.
In my opinion, good writing sells itself.
Or, to paraphrase, good writing draws in a readership whether it be a paying one or not.
When I read what I deem to be good writing, the kind that draws me in regardless of subject matter, my brain is storing those tools which caught my eye — tools such as words that fascinate me, words that are new to me, grammar, punctuation, rhyme, meter, brevity, organization, white space, or other pieces yet to be named.
Like, hey, what’s this thing? I don’t know, but I’m going to try using it to open up this locked box and see what happens.
Of course, what catches my eye may not be the same as what catches another writer’s eye. One man’s great writing is another man’s fire starter.
© Steeny Lou 2013
(The following is from the blog of jmmcdowell).
“Adverbs are all over my drafts. And they serve a useful role there. Adverbs are my place holders as ideas rush out and my fingers can’t keep up with them on the keyboard. Later, when I’m editing, they remind me what I was thinking. “He reached clumsily for his keys” can be revised to “He fumbled for his keys.” Or, “She said gently” reminds me to make sure her dialogue makes that feeling clear.
From my 1/1/12 post: “A Writer’s New Year Confession – I Don’t Hate Adverbs (Or Adjectives)”
“I am literally just blown away by this.”
Those were the words I heard wafting my way from the wretched TV as I tried to get some rest on the couch.
I turned my head to see if the guy who said it was intact, or if he had exploded and his vocal cords were somehow still operable enough to leave that one final comment in the wind.
The guy did, however, remain in one piece, as he stood there in an opulent garage wowing at a motor vehicle collection probably owned by someone with more money than empathy.