Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0: Red-Flag Words


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?

Everybody has them. No matter how many times you write or type these words, you pause for a second.

Hmmm…does that look right? 

Here is a list of words to watch out for, all of which should set off a wee alarm in your head while you edit your work.

Red-Flag Words

Desperate (not desparate)

Disastrous (not disasterous)

Explanation (not explaination)

Fourth (not forth for the number placement)


Embarrass (Go figure?!? Why would harass have one “r” and embarrass two?)

Miscellaneous (Using misc. is not appropriate and does not let you off the hook.)

Privilege (not priviledge)

One of mine is vacuum. One "u" or two? Is it "cc" or not? I never know.

What are some words you just can't seem to remember how to spell?

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

The Associated Press Stylebook, 2017 edition
The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition
Strunk and White's The Elements of Style
Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition


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 the Bibliophiles series, contemporary fiction with a sprinkling of the classics, and is a member of the Chicago Writers’ Association. For more information on Karen, please visit www.karenberner.com.


Anonymous said…
Embarrass. Privilege. Miscellaneous.

I have to check them every time. It's embarrassing.
You're so funny, angel011. Yeah, those are red-flag words for me, too.
Mel Parish said…
Vacuum - I always want to put two c's in!

And what logic is there in four, fourth, fourteen and forty!
Absolutely, Mel. Sometimes the English language is baffling!
My pet peeve is when people write "definitely" as "defiantly." I smack my forehead every time I see it written that way. I just saw it in a published book I read two days ago. The horror!!!!!!
You're kidding, Kelly! Wow. I know everyone makes mistakes, but that doesn't bode well for the book's editor, that's for sure.

Popular posts from this blog

What To Do With 'W'

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

Five Fun Facts About Ralph Waldo Emerson