Punkass vs. Punk Ass
My college-roommate friend from something like 24 years ago (ouch!) inquired this morning on Facebook about how to properly use the word punkass. The girl has a way with words. Is it punkass or punk ass? Based on my research of the word badass, which the dictionary declares is one word, I proclaim punkass to follow suit. I do see a case for two words, though. Let’s say I want a specific...
Can't We All Just Agree?
The following quote has been floating around Facebook, and, against my better judgment, I shared it yesterday on my personal page. I guess the funny factor outweighed my concern about agreement, which really is one of my most favorite grammar conventions. I want to rewrite this comical quip to read, “When someone is crying, ask if it is because of their his or her haircut.” ...
Someday vs. Some Day
Just as I was freaking out yesterday about raising teenage boys (my time is rapidly approaching), a friend shared this “Modern Family” quote with me: “Raising kids is like sending a rocket to the moon. You spend lots of time with it pre-launch, then you let it go. Around the teenage years, it heads to the dark side. But if you wait patiently, your rocket will return to you...
APA-Style Numbers—Q & A
Client Callie asked me, “Do you have some information you can refer me to about listing numbers throughout a thesis, as in when to use digits and when to spell out? I’m familiar with AP style (not APA).” This is what I told Callie: In general, spell out numbers less than 10, and use figures for numbers 10 and greater. But (there is always a but, right?), be sure to use...
Tiresome vs. Tiring
While he untangled loads of Christmas lights and sorted through piles of outdoor decorations the other day, a neighbor told me, “This is tiresome!” Interesting word choice, I thought—tiresome. I would have probably used the word tiring. Well, at the time, anyway. Now that I’ve done a little digging, I realize tiresome works just fine, and its meaning may have been just what the...
It's Thanksgiving Day
Thanksgiving, always the fourth Thursday in November, is a holiday (obviously!), and, therefore, the word is capitalized—so is the word day when attached to the word Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving Day The word night is not capitalized after Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving night Have a happy Thanksgiving Day and a happy Thanksgiving night. May family, friends, and food warm your hearts.
The Right Way to Write About the Election
Before you pen your presidential blog posts, your Facebook forecasts, and your Twitter tirades, be sure to check out the AP Stylebook 2012 U.S. Election Guide for instruction on the right way to write about the election. Guess what? It’s Election Day but election night. Who knew?
Are You Using Language Wrong?
I am not sharing this link (see below) to educate you on the topic of pushups (although, apparently, you are probably doing them wrong). I am sharing to educate you on the inconsistent use of language. See push-ups in the headline and pushups used throughout the story. See fourth-grader with a hyphen and fourth graders without a hyphen. AP Style endorses pushups and fourth-grader(s), and I...
I'm Good vs. I'm Well
Scenario: You pass a friend in the grocery store. Your friend asks you, “How are you doing?” You pause, wondering whether it’s proper to use the word good or the word well. You throw out well, even though you want to say good, because you’ve heard rumblings that well is the grammatically correct choice. Yes, well is often the right choice; however, good can be a solid...
Hyphenated Modifiers—Before and After the Noun
Typically, when a modifier that is hyphenated before a noun occurs after a noun, it is not hyphenated. Examples: She is a full-time employee. The employee works full time. According to AP Style, when the modifier that is hyphenated before a noun occurs after a form of to be, however, the hyphen should be retained. Examples: He is a well-known author. The author is well-known.
Two Grammar Rules
Nine-year-old Danny illustrates two key grammar rules: America is capitalized, and, in this case, the word take a possessive ’s.
Fish vs. Fishes
Is the noun fishes the plural of fish, and if it is, why do I so rarely hear anyone use the word? Well, yes, fishes is the plural of fish—sometimes. But fish is also one of those nouns with singular and plural forms that are exactly the same—like deer, moose, and sheep. So, when should you use the word fishes? When referring to multiple species. Example: Of all the fishes in the water, the...
May vs. Might
I could tell you how to properly use the words may and might, but I’ll let the wise Philip B. Corbett do the honors: May, Might, Muddle
DOI—Digital Object Identifier
If your APA reference has a DOI (digital object identifier), then use the DOI. It looks like this: doi:10.1111/1467-8535.00078. The DOI is a unique and permanent identifier that will take the reader directly to a document regardless of its location on the Internet. Sample reference with a DOI: Davis, B., & Simmt, E. (2006). Mathematics-for-teaching: An ongoing investigation of the mathematics...
e.g. vs. i.e.
How do you determine whether to use e.g. or i.e. in your writings? This is how one reader makes the call: I know the letters stand for Latin phrases, but I always think of “example given” for e.g. It helps me remember that’s the one you use for a specific example. The Latin abbreviation e.g. means exempli gratia, which translates to for example. The Latin abbreviation i.e....
Just a Tip—Versus
In regular ‘ol writing, spell out versus. In short expressions (headlines, in my case), the abbreviated vs. is appropriate. For court cases, just use a v. Examples: There was a lot of debate about public schools vs. private schools. Important vs. Importantly Brown v. Board of Education
Important vs. Importantly
I prefer important to importantly for a transition word, and some grammarians have my back—it’s the more desirable word, they say. The words are interchangeable, though, so either choice is a good one. I also happen to like last in place of lastly—how about you?
Proved vs. Proven
Proved is a verb. Proven is an adjective. Well, mostly. You might find some wording out there that uses proven in a verb form—”I have proven the theory” (technically, proven is acceptable in past-participle form), but AP Style says it should be “I have proved the theory.” I say it’s wise to align with AP Style. It’s just safe that way, and you’ll always...
Facebook Photo Captions—I vs. Me
Just Edits fan Maggie suggested I offer some advice on the proper captioning of Facebook photos. She’s noticed the tendency for people to misuse I and me when noting their own presence in photographs. She’s starting to grit her teeth over the whole thing, actually, so I agreed to get the word out about how to properly label the pics you post. OK, so here’s a photo of mine....
Just a Tip—Capitalizing Names of Seasons
No caps for seasons (spring, summer, winter, fall) unless they are part of a proper noun. You know, something official, like, “I am really enjoying the Summer Olympics” or “I am going to start college in Fall 2012.” Just a tip.
Random Word Wisdom—Sight
A sight—not a site—is a device used to assist the eye in aligning or aiming weapons and other instruments. It’s a new word for me, the mom of a 9-year-old boy who wants to abandon his short-lived lacrosse career and start practicing archery. (Ouch, my bank account.) Sight is just one of many words I must incorporate into my bow-and-arrow vocabulary. There’s also quiver (a container...
Don't Forget to Proofread
Thank you to The Publishing Training Centre at Book House for sharing this great tip. As stated on the company’s Facebook page, ”Even if the deadline is creeping up on you, it is always best to keep calm, or in this instance, clam.” Note: Proofread is one word—just so you know should you use it for something other than a catchy little red sign with a crown on top.
Fourth of July
According to AP Style, you’ve got a few options when writing out the name of Wednesday’s holiday: Fourth of July July Fourth July 4 Independence Day Got a favorite?
'Dog on the Roof' Hits the Road
Three “Dog on the Roof: On the Road With Mitt & the Mutt” books are hitting the road—one is headed for Ohio, one is off to Virginia, and another will be delivered to New Hampshire. Congrats to giveaway winners Kim, Don, and Dave!
Diseases and Capitalization
Capitalize the name of a disease only when it’s named after a person, and only capitalize the individual’s name—not the word disease. Examples: Alzheimer’s disease Crohn’s disease Lou Gehrig’s disease Parkinson’s disease arthritis celiac disease leukemia pneumonia
Bankers Boxes—A New Perspective
If you are talking about actual bankers, and the actual bankers have boxes, bankers’ boxes is what you want to write. Bankers’ is plural and possessive—that’s why you need an apostrophe after the s. BUT, as one reader pointed out in a comment on my Plural Possessive—Bankers’ Boxes post, Bankers Box is a trademarked brand name, and when you refer to the actual boxes known...
'Dog on the Roof' (BOOK GIVEAWAY)
My posts here at Just Edits won’t always be crafted to teach you grammar, punctuation, and spelling lessons—sometimes, I’ll break from convention to give away free stuff. Granted, the prizes I award will usually be somehow linked to words and language. You know, prizes like books. Yes, books. Thanks to Simon and Schuster for advancing me three giveaway copies of “Dog on the...
Oops! at the Gas Station
There are a few errors in this (sorta) sentence, which was spotted on a gas station pump in Gainesville, Fla. Can you find and fix the flubs? Visit the Just Edits Facebook page to submit your corrections.
University of Florida President Bernie Machen to...
Yes, University of Florida President Bernie Machen will retire in 2013, which is pretty newsworthy stuff for those of us here in Gainesville, Fla., but I am posting about Machen not to summarize this announcement—I want to highlight how there are no commas surrounding the words Bernie Machen in my title, University of Florida President Bernie Machen to Retire in 2013. I just wrote about how...
Identifying a Name—Commas or No Commas?
Why are the commas surrounding the name Danny? Because he is my youngest son (not just any son), and his name is Danny. The words youngest and son in this sentence identify Danny and only Danny—that’s why commas are necessary. What about this sentence: I am reading the book “Tangerine” with my oldest son, Joey. No commas for “Tangerine,” because it is not the...
A whole slew of fifth-grade safety patrol kids departed Florida in the wee hours of the morning today for the nation’s capital, where they will spend several days touring, learning, and making memories to last a lifetime. Seems only appropriate, then, that I tell you this: When the context requires you to distinguish between the state of Washington and the federal district, you should...
Random Word Wisdom—Necktie
Maybe you don’t find yourself in the scenario to use the word necktie very often. I know I rarely say the word—tie usually gets the point across just fine. But my oldest kid graduated from fifth grade yesterday, and he wore a necktie (the exact one pictured above, in fact), which prompted me to school myself on the word’s proper spelling. It’s necktie—all one word. ...
What Is a Comma Splice?
A comma splice happens when a comma is used to join two independent clauses when another form of punctuation should be used. An independent clause has its own subject and verb and can stand on its own as a sentence. Example: My friend is outgoing, her sister is shy. See the two clauses that can stand alone? 1. My friend is outgoing, 2. her sister is shy. To fix the comma splice, just keep...
Ring, Rang, Rung
“Has the bell rung?” I asked a third-grade teacher this morning at school drop-off. I vaguely remember her telling me the bell had sounded, but I confess I was not entirely focused on her response, because I was preoccupied with a moment of panic—was rung the proper word choice? Now that I’ve collected my thoughts, I realize that rung is right. Whew! So that you won’t...
Toward vs. Towards
Some sources say the words toward and towards are interchangeable. AP Style says to use toward, not towards. Search towards in the AP default dictionary, and you’ll find no such word shows up—but toward does. Search the word in the APA default dictionary, and toward pops up again, with the notation, “also towards.”
Doughnut vs. Donut
Today is a holiday—National Doughnut Day. It’s also National Go Barefoot Day, but that’s not why I’m writing. I’m writing to call attention to the proper spelling of the sweet treat that is honored the first Friday of June. AP spelling is doughnut, and because most media outlets use AP Style, that’s why you’ll see this version of the word in news stories. The...
OK, Here's the Deal
OK—not okay, says AP. The APA crew does not have a firm ruling on this word, and a quick peek at the APA Style blog reveals that bloggers use both okay and OK. I’m guessing, then, that if you are writing an APA-Style paper, you’d be fine with either version just be consistent with your use by picking one spelling and sticking with it throughout your masterpiece. As a fan of AP-Style...
Birthday-Inspired Numbers Lesson
Today, my No. 2 baby is 9 years old. My 9-year-old boy was born on May 30, 2003. He weighed 10 pounds, 2 ounces, and he was 22 inches long. A few teaching points: With numerals, use the abbreviation No. for number; use figures for all numbers, even those less than 10—No. 2 baby. Use figures for ages—9, not nine. Use hyphens for ages used as adjectives—9-year-old boy. Capitalize the names of...
When referring to a general degree, use bachelor’s degree and master’s degree. Examples: I received my bachelor’s degree yesterday. Now, I want to get my master’s degree. When referring to a specific degree, use Bachelor of and Master of. Examples: I have a Bachelor of Arts degree. I plan to get a Master of Education degree. An associate degree is just associate...
Plural Possessive—Bankers' Boxes
I was asked this question today: If John states in a report that he reviewed 3 “bankers boxes” of records, is the correct grammar “banker’s boxes,” “bankers’ boxes,” or “bankers boxes”? Should the “b” of bankers be capitalized? How about the “b” of boxes? Is it a proper name? What do you think? Here is my...
Its—A Perfect-Use Example
Here is its, in all of its properly used glory. That’s all I’ve got. Well, except for a sincere thank you to Motivate Hope Strength for sharing this lovely quote.
Over, Under, More Than, Less Than
The words over and under refer to spatial relationships. Examples: The bird flew over the house. I drove my car under the bridge. The words more than and less than refer to numerals. Examples: I have been a mom for more than 11 years. I made less than a dozen cupcakes for the party. One more thing—for ages, try using the words older than and younger than instead of over and under. ...
Words With Hyphens
Perhaps you’d like a handy-dandy list of words with hyphens. Maybe not. Regardless, here are some AP-Style words that use the little joiner. ad-lib A-frame boo-boo bull’s-eye cure-all D-Day daughter-in-law (son-in-law, mother-in-law, etc.) F-word (ha!) high-tech hip-hop Jell-O (a trademark name) K-9 merry-go-round point-blank T-bone 3-D (preferred over three-D) T-shirt V-8 Be advised...
FCAT Writing Scores Tank
Last year, 81 percent of fourth-graders earned a passing grade on the writing portion of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). This year—27 percent. What? Apparently, Florida educators made writing exam scoring tougher this year, and students were expected to use correct spelling and grammar and present logical arguments backed up with relevant details. Seems fair—if 10-year-old...
Grammar Gone Wrong—Mothersday
Want to avoid all confusion about where to place the apostrophe in Mother’s Day? Just get rid of the punctuation altogether and go with one word—Mothersday. No, don’t do that. Despite the grammatical stylings of this sign, spotted at a Mexican restaurant in the state of Washington, Mother’s Day is two words. Promise. And $1 Off Bottle Beer. It’s a nice offer and all,...
Period Outside Closing Quotation Marks—What?
I am starting to read “Eats, Shoots & Leaves” (again), and I feel compelled to issue you a warning in the event you read this book—which you should if you want to learn about the proper use of commas and apostrophes and you like a side of humor with your grammar lessons. Warning: Author Lynne Truss puts periods outside her closing quotation marks, which I tell you not to...
Locker Room—Two Words, Not One
Locker room—two words. I checked. AP Style uses two words, the dictionary preferred by AP-Style folks lists it as two words, and the dictionary used by APA-Style professionals shows it as two words. Locker room. Two words. That’s all.
LaShonna asked over at the Just Edits Facebook page about when to spell out numbers and when to use figures. I answered. Here is what I shared: According to AP Style, spell out numbers less than 10. Use figures for 10 and above. If you are starting a sentence with a number, though, spell it out (“Twenty-four students were in the classroom.”). And with ages, always use figures...
I vs. Me
Just Edits Facebook fan Allison suggested a post on the proper use of I and me. It’s not that she doesn’t know how to use the words—she just recognizes that so many people commonly misuse them, and it’s kinda driving her crazy. So, here’s the deal—you can determine which word to use without even understanding any I and me rules. All it takes is a simple little test. ...
Random Word Wisdom—Mother's Day
Technically, we’re talking two words, not just one. Mother’s and Day. So, why is there an apostrophe s in Mother’s Day but not in Veterans Day? Rumor has it that Mother is intended to be singular—each family honors its own mom, you see—and the word Mother’s is used in possessive form. The day belongs to each mother, not a bunch of mothers. The word Veterans, however,...