Hyphenating Phrases

When should phrases of more than two words be hyphenated, and when should the constituent words stand on their own? The following sentences, and the discussions and revisions that follow each, illustrate the rules pertaining to hyphenation of phrases. 1. The researchers highlighted the follow the herd mentality the students exhibited. Because the phrase “follow … Read more

General Rules About Abbreviations

This post outlines basic rules about abbreviations. There is a bewildering variety of standards, which will be explained in more detail in subsequent posts about specific categories of abbreviation, but the following guidelines cover an array of general types. Use of abbreviation varies widely depending on the formality of writing employed for a given publication … Read more

All About Like

Like is one of the most versatile of words, with senses encompassing multiple parts of speech. Here’s a review of its various meanings and uses. As a verb, like means “enjoy,” “feel affection for,” “regard favorably,” “thrive in,” or “wish to have.” It can also mean “approve” or “prefer.” The noun like refers to preference … Read more

The Suffix -strophe

Do the words apostrophe and catastrophe have anything in common besides a couple of syllables? What, if anything, does a punctuation mark have to do with a disaster? The words, taken from Greek, share an element derived from the Greek verb strephein, which means “turn.” Apostrophe, meaning “turn from,” alludes to the fact that an … Read more

Style Quiz #6: Parallel Lists

In this exercise you need to pick the sentence version that correctly uses parallel syntactical structure in providing a list: 1. a) The resulting story was creative, engaging, and used dialogue effectively. b) The resulting story was creative and engaging and used dialogue effectively. 2. a) He had droopy eyelids, watery, bloodshot eyes, and his … Read more

Proper Word Order to Enable Parallel Structure

Sometimes, word order in a sentence does not interfere significantly with comprehension of the sentence, but it does produce an awkward obstacle to clean reading. Here are several flawed sentences that require only a simple transposition of words to become syntactically valid. Each is followed by a discussion and a revision. 1. Foods on the … Read more

Building Sentences That Support the Use of “Rather”

The adverb rather is useful for expressing a correction or counterpoint, but the word is often either incorrectly employed or is employed in a flawed sentence. The following sentences include an error directly or indirectly related to use of rather; discussion and revision demonstrate correct usage. 1. The Department of Justice isn’t as concerned with … Read more

Coordinate vs. Noncoordinate Adjectives

Whether to punctuate between two or more adjectives preceding a noun can be a difficult decision to make. Consider these points next time you are confused about what is appropriate. In the sentence “Many great artists were not recognized as such during their lifetimes,” many and great, though they are both adjectives, are not coordinate. … Read more

Grave, Gravy, and Gravity

Are grave, gravy, and gravity related? Though they could be interpreted to have associated senses, their etymological origins are distinct. The noun grave, referring to a burial place, may seem to refer to weight, but it is unrelated to gravy or gravity, as is its derivative engrave. Grave and engrave stem from the Old English … Read more

Style Quiz #5: Parallel Sentence Structure

All but one of the following sentences demonstrate faulty sentence structure; revise the sentences as necessary: 1. He works well individually, with partners, or small groups. 2. She makes perceptive comments during class discussions, as well as asking good questions. 3. You see the same advertisers again and again: furniture makers, bathroom-fixtures manufacturers, and high-end … Read more

How to Make Money Freelance Writing Online

Until 15 years ago or so becoming a freelance writer was not an easy task. You had to get in touch with print magazines and newspapers, and you had to convince the editor that you were the right person for the job. The number of applications for each job was quite high, because the number … Read more