Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0: Part 2 of Avoiding Sticky Situations with Words that Begin with 'S'


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?

Illustration of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Welcome back to part two of my series on the letter s

Remember last week, I told you more words begin with s than any other letter? Here are more s words that could get you in sticky situations. Join me next Wednesday for the third and final installment.

Seven Seas

Can you name the Seven Seas? And, don’t forget to capitalize, as they are proper nouns.

Arabian Sea, Atlantic Ocean, Bay of Bengal, Mediterranean Sea, Persian Gulf, Red Sea, and South China Sea.

Seven Wonders of the World

The Seven Wonders of the World (a capitalized phrase) are the Egyptian pyramids, the hanging gardens of Babylon, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the temple of Artemis at Ephesus, the Colossus of Rhodes, the statue of Zeus by Phidias at Olympia, and the Pharos, or lighthouse, at Alexandria. 


According to the Associated Press Stylebook (AP), this term should be used for both the waste matter and the drainage system. AP states that sewerage is not correct. 

However, the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) prefers using sewerage as the better term for the sewer system as a whole, including treatment plants and other facilities, and for the function of disposing sewage and wastewater in general. 

This is another of those times when you’ll have to know what style the magazine, blog, or newspaper uses. 

Sight, site

A sight is something worth seeing, while a site is a physical or electronic place. CMS adds that the figurative expression meaning to “focus on a goal” is to set one’s sights


When in London, I love to see the famous sights, such as Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and Tower Bridge.

The Wallace Monument is near Stirling Bridge, the site of the famous battle.

Sightseeing, sightseer

One word for both sightseeing and sightseer.


AP recommends staying away from slang in general. I think it can date a piece, unless you are setting a book in a certain time period. Using slang from those years can help add a sense of time.

Smithsonian Institution

It’s the Smithsonian Institution, not the Smithsonian Institute, which is the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex, in Washington, D.C. 


One word, lowercase, for the firefighter who gets into fires by aircraft or parachute, according to AP.


CMS states sneak is conjugated sneaksneakedsneaked and warns to reserve snuck for dialect and tongue-in-cheek usages.

Stationary, stationery

The word stationary describes a state of immobility, of staying in one place, according to CMS. Stationery is the paper or writing materials.

EFG Digest

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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.


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