The Role of a Writing Coach

Do you have a desire to write, but perhaps you find yourself frustrated by an inability to develop or organize your writing, or perhaps you’re getting bogged down in the process? Maybe a writing coach can help you. This post discusses what a writing coach can do for you. What is a writing coach? He … Read more

Answers to More Questions About Usage

Confusion about words or phrases with similar connotations or constructions is common; here are several questions from DailyWritingTips.com readers about usage, and my responses. 1. What is the difference between remuneration and emolument? The words have essentially the same meaning – “compensation or payment” — though remuneration also pertains to payment by a customer or … Read more

5 More Examples of Extraneous Hyphens

When it comes to hyphens, prose is often in a state of disequilibrium: Sometimes there are too many, and sometimes there are too few, but careful writers learn when the number of hyphens is just right. These sentences demonstrate a surfeit of hyphenation. 1. “It should come as no surprise that the America’s Cup sponsors … Read more

Should “Light Bulb” Be One Word, or Two?

Why do most people spell “light bulb” like that, as an open compound? Because most dictionaries treat it that way. But the dictionary used by most American publishing companies and periodicals as the resource of record, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, and its online equivalent, spell it as a closed compound. Despite that fact, even in books, … Read more

50 Plain-Language Substitutions for Wordy Phrases

The following phrases need not be summarily replaced by more concise alternatives, but consider making the switch, especially when you find yourself using various wordy phrases frequently in the same text. 1. a number of: some, many 2. afford an opportunity: allow, let 3. an appreciable number of: many 4. as a means of: to … Read more

3 Justifications for Altering Quotations

Generally, writers should not change the wording in quotations, but quotations that lack context or that include a gratuitous word or phrase should be repaired, as shown in the following examples. 1. “Without those tools, she said, ‘It’s as if years ago we had given them a pencil to write the essay and took away … Read more

Breaking Style

DailyWritingTips.com readers frequently email a message or write a comment in which they disagree with me (usually but not always respectfully) about something I’ve written. Occasionally, a reader has misunderstood me. Now and then, I’ve been unclear or I’ve made a mistake. Sometimes, the issue is of a difference between the recommendations of one style … Read more

“Fort” and Other Strong Words

Fort and other words beginning with that formidable foursome of letters have a strong heritage going back to ancient Latin. Here’s a discussion of fort and the fort- family of words. Fort derives, through the identically spelled French word meaning “strong,” from the Latin term fortis, which has the same meaning. (That word is also … Read more

5 Funny Figures of Speech

Wordplay is a fertile field for study in English. Although the following forms of humor should be used sparingly if at all, writers should be familiar with them and their possibilities. 1. Malapropism A malapropism, the substitution of a word with a similar-sounding but incongruous word, may be uttered accidentally or, for humorous effect, may … Read more

How to Rename or Define

When constructing a sentence in which a term or concept is described in other words or a meaning is given, use these guidelines for punctuating the parenthesis. When using namely, which establishes that one or more examples or names of a thing will be provided, or employing phrases that serve a similar purpose (such as … Read more

Working with an Editor

Anyone can publish without an editor. Some people can even publish very well-written content without any editorial assistance. But most can’t, and guessing that you’re in the smaller category is a great risk. Why not hire an editor? What does an editor do? There are many types of editors, with distinct skill sets and responsibilities, … Read more

Quantify References to Elapsed Time

A writer’s book-jacket bio mentions that she’s been a reporter for fifteen years. An online product review refers to a device having been launched last fall. Your blog relates that you attended a conference the previous month. What’s wrong with each of these descriptions? They all assume the reader is trapped in temporal stasis. By … Read more