Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0: Oh, I See

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?


Before we get started with our usual Wednesday post, have you heard the news?

Using they as a singular pronoun or gender-neutral pronoun will be added to the updated Associated Press Stylebook coming out at the end of May. AP representatives announced the new rule last week during a session at the 21st national conference of ACES: The Society for Editing in St. Petersburg, Fla. Click here to read the entire story.

Today, let’s talk about words that begin with the letter “O,” which includes both an adjective I tend to associate with Jane Austen’s characterization of Mr. Collins, odious, as well as a phrase basketball fans are sure to be familiar with since March Madness is wrapping up in a few days, out of bounds.

Also, the March issue of EFG Digest, a monthly recap of all of my Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 blog posts delivered to your inbox in one convenient newsletter, will be going out Friday, March 31. If you'd like to receive it, click here to subscribe.

Odious, odorous, odoriferous, malodorous

The Chicago Manual of Style states that odious means hateful and has nothing to do with scent in any capacity.

Odorous means detectable by smell, for better or worse.

Similar to odorous, CMS notes odoriferous has “meant fragrant as often as it has meant foul.”

Malodorous is what you’d expect. It’s something that smells terrible.


Many people use the phrase “off of,” which isn’t quite right. The of is unnecessary. It’s better to only use off, as in the following example.

He fell off the bed. 

Oppress, repress

Oppress means to persecute or tyrannize. It is considered a more negative term than repress, which means to restrain or subordinate, but clearly both are terrible.


Yes, the name of the only North American marsupial begins with “o.”

Out of bounds, out of court

Both these phrases are hyphenated only if they are used as modifiers.

Here are some examples from AP.

The ball went out of bounds.
She took an out-of-bounds pass.

They settled out of court.
He accepted an out-of-court settlement.

Overall, overalls

Overall is a single word when used as an adjective or an adverb, such as “Overall, the Democrats succeeded,” according to AP.

Overalls is the word for the clothes.

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 inbox in one convenient newsletter. Click here to sign up.


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

The Associated Press Stylebook, 2016 edition
The Chicago Manual of Style
Strunk and White's The Elements of Style
Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition
The Bugaboo Review: A lighthearted guide to exterminating confusion about words, spelling, and grammar


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…
Still loving these words of wisdom.
Fi said…
Malodorous is a wonderful word.

Popular posts from this blog

Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0: Single Quotation Marks Within Double Quotes: Where Does the Period Go?

Five Fun Facts About Ralph Waldo Emerson

Mourning Maeve