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Autonomous or Self-Driving?

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POSTED BY KAREN WOJCIK BERNER


Every Wednesday, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 features handy tips to enhance all of our writing, from daily emails to articles to books. After all, everyone needs to write, right?





The terms self-driving and autonomous are batted around indiscriminately, but is either word accurate for describing the next generation of automobiles?

First, I wanted to see what the auto industry itself says. I came upon a blog called Tech Pats that has a great list of the NHTSA Federal Automated Vehicle Policies adapted from the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) international guidelines. Their list easier to read for novices, like myself, who don’t get into the technical jargon and layers upon layers of regulations for these sort of vehicles. If you’d like to delve into the full details, here’s the SAE website.  

The first level begins with systems presently on our vehicles that assist drivers, such as blind-spot detection. Level 2 adds some automation to help in actual dri…

Opiate or Opioid: What's the Difference?

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POSTED BY KAREN WOJCIK BERNER


Every Wednesday, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 features handy tips to enhance all of our writing, from daily emails to articles to books. After all, everyone needs to write, right?





Unfortunately, we’ve heard the terms opiate and opioid far too much in the United States. More than two million Americans are dependent on or abuse prescription painkillers and street drugs, according to a recent CNN Report. There were more than 72,000 U.S. overdose deaths in 2017. Of those, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 49,068 of those involved opioids. More than 130 people died per day due to opioid-related drug overdoses in both 2016 and 2017.

While a terrible thing to write about, we also must make sure to use the correct terms.

Do you know the difference between opiate and opioid?

Opiate refers to drugs naturally derived directly from the flowering opium poppy plant, such as heroin, morphine, and codeine, according to both the Center on Addiction a…

Using 'They' and 'Them' as Singular Pronouns

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POSTED BY KAREN WOJCIK BERNER


Every Wednesday, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 features handy tips to enhance all of our writing, from daily emails to articles to books. After all, everyone needs to write, right?

I have to admit that it has taken me some time to get used to using they and them as singular pronouns, probably because I was looking at the issue through a grammar nerd, cisgendered, heterosexual lens, rather than the one I should have been focused on, which is inclusivity.

Gender-neutral language makes a lot of sense. It’s easier, more efficient, and can help avoid unnecessary awkwardness. And for those of you mired in old rules, like I was, there is actually evidence of its use as far back as the 1300s.

Here’s what some of the major grammar sources have to say about using they and them as singular pronouns.

Merriam-Webster notes that while “English lacks a common-gender, third person singular pronoun that can be used to refer to indefinite pronouns (such as everyone, anyone, som…

Thanksgiving Wishes

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POSTED BY KAREN WOJCIK BERNER
Every Wednesday, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 features handy tips to enhance all of our writing, from daily emails to articles to books. After all, everyone needs to write, right?
This post originally ran on November 23, 2016.



I tried to find grammar issues with Thanksgiving words, but there are very few besides cornucopia, which is spelled with a surprising “u,” and that the plural of potato takes an “e,” so it is potatoes
When I was young, I loved the story of Thanksgiving. Our teachers omitted many crucial details about the zealousness and cruelty of the pilgrims, and I was led to believe everything was lovely as they and Native Americans came together for a unity meal. It’s irresponsible to whitewash history, so click here to read what really happened.
Ugh.
As an adult, I’ve come to fashion the holiday as a time to give thanks for what we have. 
Being a writer and editor means I get to work from home, which is pretty great most of the time. The one dr…

Editing for Grammarphobes: A Little Dash Here and There

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POSTED BY KAREN WOJCIK BERNER


Every Wednesday, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 features handy tips to enhance all of our writing, from daily emails to articles to books. After all, everyone needs to write, right?





Although there are several kinds of dashes, each differing in length, the most common are the em dash and the en dash, named so because of what size they were back in the typesetting days. Em dash is as long as an “m”; en dash takes up the same amount of space as an “n.” 


Here are a few common ways they are used.


Em dashes denote a sudden break in thought that causes an abrupt change in sentence structure, according toThe Chicago Manual of Style.


“Will Mitchell Trubisky — can he — complete the passes necessary to beat the Vikings on Sunday night?” 


They also can be used in dialogue when the speech of one character is interrupted by another. 


“I’m not sure,” he answered cautiously. “I think he also needs —”


“Needs what?” she interrupted impatiently. “Of course he can lead the Bears to v…

Weather Words

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POSTED BY KAREN WOJCIK BERNER



Every Wednesday, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 features handy tips to enhance all of our writing, from daily emails to articles to books. After all, everyone needs to write, right?




As I write this week’s Editing for Grammarphobes, gusts of wind shake russet leaves from their branches, and I’m reminded winter cannot be far behind for Chicagoland. Today we’re talking about weather terms—what they mean and how to use them. Some of these might seem familiar, but they are actually specifically defined in the United States by the National Weather Service and are misused on a regular basis.

First off, let’s start with the term, weatherman, which is sexist and outdated. The Associated Press Stylebook (AP) states that the preferred term is weather forecaster.

Here are more weather words for you to consider.

Blizzard

Obviously, a blizzard is an intense snowstorm, but before weather forecasters use that actual term, the National Weather Service categorizes it as “havi…

Headless for Halloween

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POSTED BY KAREN WOJCIK BERNER


Every Wednesday, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 features handy tips to enhance all of our writing, from daily emails to articles to books. After all, everyone needs to write, right?




One of my favorite Halloween stories is "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving, the 18th century tale of the lanky schoolteacher, Ichabod Crane, who competes with the beefy Bram Bones, for Katrina Van Tassel's affections. Unfortunately for the skittish and superstitious Crane, one night after a party at the Van Tassel's, he meets the Headless Horseman, rumored to be the ghost of a Hessian soldier whose head was blown off by a cannonball. The horseman hurls a flaming jack o'lantern at Crane, who gallops away never to be seen again. 
Was it an apparition or Bram Bones? 
That's for you to decide. 
As I've mentioned in previous years, Halloween is a huge day for my family. We decorate the entire house, both inside and out. My husband has become …