How to Punctuate with “However”

However are you going to keep this information straight? The usage of punctuation with however may seem confusing; however, the distinctions are straightforward. However has several distinct uses. In all but one, it is an adverb — a word that modifies a verb. One adverbial use is much more common and syntactically variable than the … Read more

Answers to Questions About Writing Fiction

Here are three questions from DailyWritingTips.com readers about aspects of fiction writing, each followed by my response. 1. When it comes to fiction dialogue, do any grammatical rules apply? Generally, dialogue in fiction should be consistent with the speech patterns and habits of the individual characters; that’s one way to convey their personalities, and such … Read more

How to Treat Postpositive Adjectives

Nearly a thousand years ago, the Norman Conquest had a profound effect not only on the English nation but also on the English language. One of the manifestations of this event is the survival of the postpositive adjective. In many languages, including French, a modifying word follows the word it modifies, such as in the … Read more

Answers to Questions About Plurals

Here are DailyWritingTips.com readers’ queries about plural usage, and my responses. 1. Is staff singular or plural? Staff can be either singular or plural, though the singular form is preferred: “The staff is encouraged by the new policy” is correct. “The staff are encouraged by the new policy” is also correct but is better rendered … Read more

16 Substitutes for “Because” or “Because Of”

Many words or phrases can be used to set up an explanation. The most common is because (or “because of”), but others have their uses. Here are alternatives and a discussion of their uses and their merits. 1. As: As is a direct synonym for because (for example, “He opted not to go see the … Read more

3 Functions of the Comma

The general purpose of a comma is to separate closely related but distinct elements in a sentence. Discussion of three specific functions of the comma follows: 1. Place Names and Dates A pair of commas sets a more widely encompassing place name off from the more specific designation of a place within the other location, … Read more

How to Edit for a Friend

Many writers seek assistance from friends or family members for various projects, but this aid must be given and received with care. Here are some tips about asking for informal editing assistance and providing it. Editing for a friend or a family member is easily assumed to be a simple matter, but it requires clear … Read more

3 Examples of Proper Attribution of Quotations

1. “‘Of the 230 companies we inventoried in 1984, 54 had gone out of business or been taken over by 1987. From 1981 to 1994, we lost 84 percent,’ said Smith.” Interrupt a quotation of more than one sentence with an attribution following the first sentence to avoid a delay in identifying the speaker or … Read more

10 Interviewing Tips and Techniques

Whether you are conducting a journalistic Q&A session or preparing an oral history, it’s important to prepare carefully for an interview. Here are some guidelines to help you succeed with the interview session. 1. Be Straightforward When you contact an interview subject, state your objective clearly and honestly. The nature of the interview you conduct … Read more

5 Tips on How to Work with an Editor

You’ve retained an editor’s services and have received the edited version of your manuscript or article, or you are reviewing the work of a staff or freelance editor working for a publication you have submitted your content to. If you haven’t worked with an editor before, you may be disconcerted by the amount of editing … Read more

Answers to Questions About Possessives

Here are three queries from DailyWritingTips.com readers about pesky apostrophes, followed by my responses. 1. Please tell me the proper placement of an apostrophe when making possessive a singular abbreviation that ends in an s. In other words, for “Office of Financial Services,” should it be written OFS’s or OFS’, or something different? Either form … Read more

Fight the Good Fight Against Creeping Errors

Editing, the skill set practiced by the other half of my writer/editor dual personality, is a pleasurable pursuit for me. It enables me to practice problem solving, help people express themselves, and improve my own writing. But as I peruse some of the prose I examine professionally — more than a million words each year … Read more