The Write Stuff May 2019 Volume 15 Issue 5

It’s Pet Peeve Time

Those of you who’ve been readers for some time know I like to occasionally showcase some of my writing pet peeves. It’s been some time since I did it, so here goes.

  • Don’t blindly follow suggestions made by spellcheck. For example, the following sentence is correct: It’s likely that no matter how much you think you’re appreciated, you are in fact quite unappreciated. Spellcheck suggested a semicolon instead of the comma — which would make it incorrect. Semicolons are used to join two clauses that can stand alone as sentences.
  • Only use hyphens to hyphenate or in equations. Hyphens belong in words like first-rate, top-notch and mother-in-law, and they can also be used as minus signs. That’s it.
  • Make sure you’re not accidentally repeating yourself. For example, it’s incorrect to say someone was sidetracked and distracted — since sidetracked means to cause someone to be distracted. (Don’t even get me started on close proximity. Look it up.)
  • Watch your use of both, as it’s often not necessary. It’s perfectly fine to use both people if you’re referring to a twosome, but this sentence is better without it: This training will cover your personal and professional goals. Both is unnecessary after cover.
  • Do you serve or service? I think unless you’re an auto mechanic or a lady of the night, you serve. The phrase we service our clients always makes me wince.
  • Realize there’s a difference between a while and awhile. The former is a noun that means “a period of time,” while the latter is an adverb that means “for a short time or period.” Thus, once in a while is correct, as is I might be gone awhile.
  • Don’t capitalize the words company, firm and business — even if you’re referring to your own organization. The same goes for bank, credit union, agency, etc. Limit capitalization to actual names, i.e., Mission Federal Credit Union, Cathay Bank and so on.

Do you have any writing pet peeves? I’d love to hear from you.


Look It Up

Given how easy it is to look up a word’s meaning — no need to lug out a huge dictionary anymore — there’s really no excuse to embarrass yourself by using a word that means something different than you think it does. Loyal reader Glory Borgeson has been aggrieved lately to see regime used instead of regimen, even in an advertisement. The latter — a prescribed course of medical treatment, way of life or diet for the promotion or restoration of health — is appropriate in phrases like exercise regimen and vitamin regimen, while the former means a government, especially an authoritarian one, i.e., China’s regime.

A Distinguished Favorite

Congratulations to Stan Fairchild, whose novel, Community of Marta, was named a Distinguished Favorite, New Fiction (First Time Published) by the Independent Press Award. Haven’t yet read this book (which I edited)? Get it today:

Published On: May 15th, 2019 / Categories: 2019 /

Recent Posts