Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0: Christmas Edition

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?


Ho, ho, ho. Today’s Editing for Grammarphobes deals with commonly misspelled or generally confusing words that we hear a lot this time of year. So grab your favorite holiday beverage—peppermint mocha, eggnog, or mulled wine will do just fine—and join me for an Editing for Grammarphobes Christmas.

Is it Season’s Greetings or Seasons Greetings?

This phrase is in the genitive case, which means it is a possessive, so the correct expression is season’s greetings.

‘Tis or t’is?

‘Tis is a contraction of it is. The apostrophe takes the place of the missing letters, so the correct form is ‘tis.

How do you spell the name of the red-flowered seasonal plant?

The traditional Christmas plant is called a poinsettia. Yes, there is an "i" near the end, which is seldom pronounced. I try to remember, but always end up saying “poinsetta” anyhow. Everyone does.

What is upsot?

The second verse of “Jingle Bells” is as follows.

A day or two ago
I thought I'd take a ride
And soon Miss Fanny Bright
Was seated by my side
The horse was lean and lank
Misfortune seemed his lot
We got into a drifted bank
And then we got upsot

What the heck does that mean?

Upsot is an alternate form of upset. It means to tip or overturn something. Wow! That Jingle Bells ride is crazier than I thought.

Happy New Year’s or Happy New Year?

The correct greeting is Happy New Year. The possessive should only be used when referring to New Year’s Eve.

Closing out 2016

This will be my last blog of the year. I’m going to take time off to hang out with my family.

Happy Holidays to you and yours. I wish you joy, peace, and love in the new year. xx


These five books are on my desk at all times. Maybe they'll help you as well.

Strunk and White's The Elements of Style


A professional writer/editor for almost 30 years, Karen Wojcik Berner's wide and varied experience includes such topics as grammar, blog content, book reviews, corporate communications, the arts, paint and coatings, real estate, the fire service, writing and literature, research, and publishing. An award-winning journalist, her work has appeared in several magazines, newspapers, and blogs, including the Chicago Tribune, Writer Unboxed, Women's Fiction Writers, Naperville Magazine, and Fresh Fiction. She also is the author of three contemporary women's fiction novels and is a member of the Chicago Writers’ Association. For more information on Karen, please visit www.karenberner.com.


R. Doug Wicker said…
Enjoy your break, Karen. Looking forward to your return.
Happy Holidays! I hope you enjoy them!

Thank you for posting 'Tis. This is one of my pet peeves when people don't place the apostrophe correctly.
Thanks, R. Doug. Happy Holidays!
You're welcome. At least you know you're not alone, Kelly. :)
Patricia said…
Happy holidays, Karen ~ may yours be merry and bright!
Thanks, Patricia. Same to you and all the best in the new year.
Fi said…
Informative as ever. Have a wonderful festive break. See you in 2017.
Thanks, Fi. Happy Holidays!
brenda said…
I always enjoy your blog. I live in terror I'll find out I am breaking the rules. Hope you had a wonderful holiday.
Too funny, Brenda! Happy New Year.
Linda said…
Such a wonderful post, Karen, thank you so much for sharing! Even though I consider myself to be quite good in grammar I learned something in this post and even had a smile. Happy New Year and warm greetings from Montreal, Canada. :)

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