Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0: Adventures in Punditry


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?

Here are some words thrown around by TV political pundits and the comedians who mock them. All definitions are taken from the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition, and Dictionary.com. No matter what you are writing, it's important not to use the correct terms when referring to economic systems. 


This word means “government by the wealthy” or a “controlling class of the wealthy.” It also can mean a group of people exercising power or influence by virtue of its wealth.


Slightly different from plutocracy, an oligarchy is a government in which a small group exercises control and has all of the power. Government by the few rather than the majority. Webster adds this small group usually wields their power for selfish and corrupt purposes.


Capitalism is “an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods or investments that are determined by private decision rather than by state control, by prices and production and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market.”

A capitalist is defined as one who has capital, especially invested in business or a very wealthy person.


Socialism is “any of various economic and political theories advocating collective governmental ownership and administration of these means of production and distribution of goods” by the community as a whole.

A socialist is one who advocates the practices of socialism. This is not to be confused with socialites, who usually are unaware these words exist.


Communism is “the governmental system which advocates the elimination of private property and in which all good are common and available as needed.”

A communist is an advocate of communism. Although sometimes it describes someone one who is a revolutionary or engaged in subversive activities, that usage is not correct.

EFG Digest
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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.


R. Doug Wicker said…
"This is not to be confused with socialites, who usually are unaware these words exist."

Love that one, Karen.
Anonymous said…
Some socialites might look these words up, to appear smarter. :)
Let's hope so, angel011!

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