It's easy to go through life blithely thinking your words are spot-on, especially as a writer. Then one day an error you’ve been making grabs your attention: Surprise! You’ve been using the wrong word! Maybe today will be that day. See if this test has a word surprise for...
I'm copyediting a book this week, so I have immersed myself in rules and rule-breaking for nonfiction writing. The project is a church history. To work quickly, I have been using my grammar and spelling checker to make obvious errors and inconsistencies pop. One that keeps popping is passive...
The other day a friend told me he was concerned about having taken on a copy editing job because he didn't yet feel confident of who/whom and whoever/whomever. How about you? Are you confident about where to use those pronouns? Take the test below to see whether your confidence or...
Test your error-finding skills in each of the three short passages below. Each passage has just one error.  Passage 1: The purpose of the conversation is to recognize the common ground between members of the Republican Party and the Democrat Party in our state. We hope to come away with a...
I saw this great card designed by Jessica Hogarth at my local supermarket. It's a thank-you card for a teacher. Does it contain an error? If so, where? If not, why not? Do you worry about whether errors are getting by you? Or that you are correcting non-errors? Check out these...
In an earlier post, I promised to review Dreyer's English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style "in a few days." That was more than three weeks ago. I've been savoring the book, making notes on every chapter. I am now ready to tell you that--as a reader...
Today I was reading an article online in Forbes. I expect Forbes to produce error-free articles, but an error popped out in this sentence: When you stop to think about it, the sheer amount of websites can also confuse and perplex us. Did you recognize the error?        It's the same error I made on...
When writing is fuzzy, perfectly clear ideas come across as vague, illogical, or ambiguous. Don’t let fuzzy writing undermine your brilliant ideas! Great ideas deserve clear expression. Avoid the five don’ts below to communicate clearly with your audience. 1. Don’t use this alone. When the word this stands alone, readers...
I received an invitation to a professional meeting focused on hiring "formerly-incarcerated talent (FIT)." FIT--that's a catchy acronym.   But what caught my attention more was the unnecessary use of the hyphen. Did you notice it? These are formerly incarcerated (not hyphenated) individuals.  Here's the rule: Do not use a hyphen with...
When a newspaper makes the mistake on the front page of the sports section, you know an error has spread. The writer, copyeditor, and proofreader all missed it. Can you recognize it?  When I saw that error in a Seattle TImes headline, I cringed, but I wasn't surprised. Just a...