Grammarphobes, writers, poor spellers, lend me your ears

A long time ago, much further* back in my personal history than I care to dwell upon, one of my college English professors told me I could be a great writer if I only took the time to properly use the tools of our trade. She flung my essay on the desk before me. Content = A. Grammar = D. Final grade = C. Dejected, I left her office, vowing it would never happen again.

Many wonderful stories are marred by misspellings, grammar mistakes and improper word usage. When I was editing magazines, if contributors handed in a manuscripts polluted with typos and grammatical errors, the entire staff thought they were idiots, even if they had doctorates in chemistry.

Everyone makes mistakes, however writers need to know the rules. Computer spell check and grammar editors are unreliable. But, who has the time to take a refresher English class?

Beginning September 20, Bibliophilic Blather will offer editing tips each Monday and Wednesday. How to punctuate dialogue. When to use “I” or “me.” The dreaded “who” versus “whom” rules. Simple fixes for your editing quandaries.

Just so you know, I have held every editorial position at one time or another, from editorial assistant on up to editor-in-chief. I also double majored in English and communications in college. Lots of years, lots of editing. And I would love to help. If you are so inclined, click to follow Bibliophilic Blather in the column on the right.

Have a grammar question? E-mail me at karen@karenberner.com, and check back here on Mondays and Wednesdays for the answer.

* FYI, I checked whether to use “farther” or “further” while editing this entry, so I did not look like a big dope using the wrong word while preaching about grammar, which would be slightly inconvenient. I was reminded that “farther” should be used for physical distances. “Further” is for an extension of time or degree.


Coming Friday...
Monthly topics and submission deadlines for Flash Fiction Fridays.

Comments

Karen Cantwell said…
I'll be waiting for the lay, lie, laid, layed rule. Those words get me EVERY time!

It's a great feature -- I look forward to following you and keeping my grammar in check. :-)
thearcanist said…
I was reminded that “farther” should be used for physical distances. “Further” is for an extension of time or degree.
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Good point there, Karen. I always have to remember about the 2's and the Theirs.

Too: As in Me Too. Or many.
to: As in to go to.

There: go there.
Their: as in, Their home, Their dog etc.

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Seems to me that you'd be in big demand as an Editor Free-Lance Karen. So many E-Writers these days who need one. Do you do this work?
I have been toying with the idea of offering editing services to e-writers after the new blog format is up and running next week.

I'll keep you informed of my decision through the blog.

Thanks for reading.
Nell Gavin said…
Here's something to ponder. There are compound words that people frequently write, incorrectly, as two words. For instance, it is "cannot", NOT "can not" and "stepbrother" NOT "step brother". Also there are words that are NOT compound words. It's "a while", NOT "awhile", "a lot" NOT "alot". They're hard to keep track of!
Thanks for your suggestion, Nell. I will add that to my list of topics.

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