Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0: Mmm Mmm Good

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?


Can you believe it’s March already? The first part of the year just flies by. Before you know it, it will be Tax Day. Ugh. 

Well, since this is the first day of March, let’s talk about some words that begin with the letter “M.”

Mantle, mantel

A mantle is a cloak or, as the Merriam-Webster Dictionary states, “a figurative cloak symbolizing preeminence or authority,” as in the mantle of leadership.

A mantel is a shelf above a fireplace. 

Mashup or mash-up?

There is conflicting advice on whether or not this word should be hyphenated. The Associated Press Stylebook states it is one word, while Merriam-Webster states it’s hyphenated. 

In this case, I would go with the dictionary, since a lot of AP Style deals with saving space and column inches. I’d use mash-up to describe a blending of two or more pieces of content, including photos, video, music, and text.  

May, might

According to the Chicago Manual of Style, “may expresses what is possible, is factual, or could be factual.”


I may have closed the garage door, but now I can’t remember.

It is entirely possible to prove whether or not I closed the garage door. When there can be definitive proof, use may.

However, CMS states the word might suggests something uncertain, hypothetical, or contrary to the fact.


The Chicago Bears might have had a winning record if Jay Cutler didn’t play.

I can’t prove one way or the other if the Bears would have had a winning season without Cutler, although there is evidence to suggest my statement is at least a tiny bit true. Of course, their receivers actually have to catch the ball, but I could write an entire blog post, heck, an entire series of posts, on my disappointment with the Chicago Bears, especially during the Cutler years. Sigh.

Memento, mementos

Yes, that spelling is correct, even though most people pronounce the word for something that serves to warn or remind as “momento.” 


This word meaning “very small” is often misspelled as “miniscule,” which is understandable considering mini is what we use to describe small things. Mark it as a red-flag word in your brain. I know I will.

Tricky Spellings

Makeup (nouns and adjectives)
Make-up (verb)
Menswear (one word)

EFG Digest

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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.


I have to correct mantle vs. mantel quite often to editing clients.
R. Doug Wicker said…
Definitely got me on the Mantel/Mantle tip.
Mel Parish said…
Medieval - this one always make me glad there's such a thing as spell-check!(And according to Google there are 3 ways of writing that so maybe when you get to S......)
Thanks for another informative post.

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