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Avoiding Sticky Situations with Words that Begin with 'S'

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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?







Did you know more English words begin with s than any other letter? 

Strengths and screeched are the two longest one-syllable words in English, according to grammar.com. The site also mentions that subcontinental is the only word that uses each vowel only once and in reverse alphabetical order. 


Here are some other words beginning with s that can cause some sticky situations. 


Salable

This adjective meaning “fit or able to be sold” does not have an e in the middle.


Sacrilegious

The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) states sacrilegious is related to the word sacrilege, not to religion or religious. Some people have a tendency to switch the i and e on either side of the l, but that’s not correct.


Sandstorm

One word.


Scissors

Scissors is a noun that takes plural verbs and pronouns. 

Example from t…

James' Book or James's Book: Which is Correct?

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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?



Hi Karen,

You may have already addressed this issue, and I apologize for missing it; however, how about the subject of possessives? Particularly in regards to those ending in the letter s and where the apostrophe goes. In other words, is it James’ book or James’s book? Thanks in advance.

Sincerely yours,
Nan Smith



Thanks for your question, Nan. It’s good to revisit this from time to time because editing styles change over the years. 

Let’s start with the easy stuff.

Singular nouns are made possessive by adding an apostrophe and an s.

Examples

dog's bowl
cat’s litter box

And we all know plural nouns not ending in s are made possessive by adding an apostrophe and an s.

Examples

women’s rights
children’s literature

Here’s where it gets more difficult. 

When making plural nouns ending in s poss…

And Now for a Brief Interruption...

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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'm taking the week off. Editing for Grammarphobes will return next  week with the definitive word on possessives.  See you then!

Grammar Giggles

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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?


Labor day is almost here, the symbolic end of summer in the U.S., even though autumnal equinox is a good three weeks away. But, hey, we get a long weekend, so who am I to argue semantics?

Today, we wrap up the season with some fun grammar cartoons. Next week, we'll get back to work and discuss possessives.

Happy Labor Day, everyone!
















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Bio
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, t…

5 Bits of Writing Wisdom from Strunk and White

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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?

Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER



There are many books on writing, but few have the staying power of The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White, commonly referred to as simply "Strunk and White." Originally penned by William Strunk Jr. in 1918 and published by Harcourt in 1920, E.B. White enlarged and revised it in 1959.

In 2011, Time named The Elements of Style one of the best and most influential books written in English since 1923. Of course, there are the naysayers, the ones who argue Strunk and White is outdated and contributed to a paranoia regarding grammar rules, while others, including myself, see it as filled with nuggets of good advice and information that’s worth picking up and re-reading from time to time.

Here are a few writing tips from The Elements of Style.

Page 34: Coll…

Debugging Your Writing

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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?
POSTED BY KAREN WOJCIK BERNER



About six years ago, Sue Sommer wrote a handy little book on grammar and spelling based on her experience as a high school Honors English and creative writing teacher. A past winner of the Golden Bell Award for Excellence in Teaching, Sommer also had worked as a magazine editor and proofreader. She knows her stuff. The book, The Bugaboo Review: A Lighthearted Guide to Exterminating Confusion About Words, Spelling, and Grammar, is one of the resources I keep on my desk.
In The Bugaboo Review, Sommer has a page on absolutes, words that cannot have degrees attached to their use, meaning they should be used without adverb modifiers, such as most, very, or quite. Absolutes are the "be all, end all," so to speak. 
"Don't use phrases such as more unique, very favori…

5 Ways to Edit Like a Pro

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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?



You have completed your novel, article, or white paper. Now it's time to put all of your grammatical ducks in a row. I know most of you hate this part, but it is crucial to your success. Nothing is perfect. There will always be some errors; we are human, after all. But, as writers, it is our responsibility to use our tools of the trade correctly. These are just some of the things I do before I hand anything in.

1. Spelling

Do not trust spell check. It often misses homophones, which is one of those mistakes that can make a brilliant storyteller look like a complete moron. Check dialogue and slang terms. Make sure character names are spelled consistently. Double check place names. Be on the lookout for red flag words, as well as common mistakes, such as your/you’re and to/too/tw…

Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0: Etymology Fun

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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?

Fellow word nerds, it's time for an etymology post. Do you know how these words and phrases came to be?





Throw down the gauntlet

A gauntlet is a chain mail glove worn with medieval armor to protect one’s hand. In the days of chivalry and combat, when a gauntlet was thrown to the ground, it meant that knight was challenging his opponent to a fight. If the gauntlet was picked up by the opposing knight, the challenge was accepted.



Palace

According to an interesting blog by the Oxford Royale Academy*, the word palace has its origins from Rome. "It comes from one of Rome’s famous Seven Hills, the Palatine, upon which the emperor resided in what grew into a sprawling and opulent home," according to the blog. It goes on to say that in Latin, the Palatine Hill was called the…

Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0: Split Infinitives

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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?



Today, we are going to explore a gray area in grammar, one that has some uses that are clearly wrong, as well as others that could go either way.

Split infinitives break up a compound verb, usually by inserting an adverb in between.

Examples

She had to quickly leave.

The preferred sentence would read as follows:

She had to leave quickly.

The Associate Press Stylebook states, “In general, avoid awkward constructions that split infinitive forms of a verb (to leave, to help, etc.) or compound forms (had left, are found out, etc.)” It gives the following example.

“Awkward: She was ordered to immediately leave on an assignment.

Preferred: She was ordered to leave immediately on an assignment.” 


Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style also cautions writers to avoid it unless they want to “pla…

Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0: Redundancies

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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?
Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER





Redundancies. They clog our writing, weighing it down in unnecessary muck, much like what triple cheeseburgers with bacon and mayonnaise do to our arteries.

Here is a great list from a fantastic book, The Bugaboo Review, by Sue Sommer.

Watch out for the following duplicate phrases.

advance planning
and also
burn up
close down
down below
8:00 p.m. at night
fall down
free gift
funeral service
Jewish rabbi
lie down
lift up
my own personal opinion
owns his own home
raise up
refer back
staple together
use it all up


I especially like "Jewish rabbi." What other kind is there?


EFG Digest

Love all the grammar tips, but don’t have time to check the blog every week? Subscribe to EFG Digest, a monthly recap of all of my Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 blog posts delivered to your i…

Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0: The Heat is On

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POSTED BY KAREN WOJCIK BERNER
_________________________________________________________________________________
**Smashwords Summer Sale**
For the entire month of July, all three of my novels are available for FREE  at Smashwords. You can download A Whisper to a Scream, Until My Soul Gets It Right,  and A Groovy Kind of Love now by clicking here_________________________________________________________________________________
Ah, summer, the season I eagerly anticipate, then complain incessantly about. The temperatures are rising in Chicagoland, and, unfortunately, so is the humidity level, condemning me to countless days of unreliable, frizzy hair and a perpetual state of sticky malaise.

But, what about the words associated with the season?

Summer

The word, summer, much like all of the seasonal names should not be capitalized unless the season is being personified, such as in poetry or a particularly lively piece of writing.

Examples

summer solstice
summer vacation
summer

Personification E…

Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0: The Finer Things

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Posted byKAREN 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?




There are countless words relating to food in the English language. So many, in fact, that AP Style has an entire section devoted to it. Often, spelling is the most difficult part to remember, but I’ve also found a few issues that deal with categorizations as well.



Appetizers or hors d’oeuvres?

Although used interchangeably, there actually is a difference. Although it literally means “out of work,” hors d’oeuvres means “outside the meal” and refers to one-bite items that are served separately and before the meal, such as canapes, crudites, or bruschetta. Appetizers are served as the first course when seated at the table and are generally larger. They should also complement the entree.


Champagne

Champagne is a sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France only. If made anywhere …

Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0: To Independence

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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?




Years ago, the 4th of July holiday meant backyard barbecues with family friends who also had kids around the same ages as mine. Laughter floated above the chorus of adult conversation as the kids ran in and out of our blow-up swimming pool, filling their water guns, readying for their battles. The night ended with writing their names in the sky with sparklers and cuddling close with their mothers as fireworks burst colors across the sky.

Today, all of the kids who once frolicked in our backyard are preparing for adulthood. Some have begun their careers. Others are choosing which college to attend.

So, grab a glass of lemonade, or something stronger, and let’s toast to Independence Day.


Barbecue

Yes, that’s the proper spelling, according to the Associated Press Stylebook. Althoug…