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 personally stand behind such style; however, consistency is what’s key. If you choose to use push-ups in your writing, no biggie—just use the word in that same exact form throughout your masterpiece. It’s just the right thing to do. It will make you look smarter, too.
Here is the link:
Are you doing push-ups wrong?
Can you find any other inconsistencies?
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.
daughter-in-law (son-in-law, mother-in-law, etc.)
Jell-O (a trademark name)
3-D (preferred over three-D)
Be advised that there are words that take a hyphen sometimes, but not always. For example, push-up is a noun, but push up is a verb; mix-up is a noun, but mix up is a verb; and send-off is a noun, but send off is a verb.
There are also some words, like sellout (n.) and sell out (v.), set up (n.) and setup (v.), and takeout (n.) and take out (v.) that do not use a hyphen.
Plus, there’s a whole slew of words that should be joined by a hyphen to avoid ambiguity (My mom re-covered the sofa) and to modify a noun—basically, if two or more words preceding a noun are used to express a single concept, use a hyphen (Those were my first-semester grades). But guess what? The word very and adverbs ending in -ly do not take a hyphen (She is a beautifully dressed girl).
Let’s just agree that you are a superstar if you remember all rules regarding hyphens. And if you’re like me—not always certain when to use and when not to use—I suggest you reference the AP Stylebook online (membership fee required) or grab yourself a new AP Stylebook 2012, set to launch May 30. Don’t want to invest any money at all? Well, then, keep stopping by here for AP-Style briefings, and you should definitely bookmark the AP-Style default dictionary at Webster’s New World College Dictionary.
Lay and Lie (VIDEO)
I could tell you all about the proper use of the words lay and lie, but there’s no way my lesson would ever measure up to the one featured in the following video, where the characters on “Mad Men” demonstrate how to correctly—and incorrectly—use the words.
Note: TV show in quotes—that’s AP Style.
Numbers and Ages
When writing and referring to numbers, be sure to spell out numbers one through nine.
See how I just spelled out one and nine?
So, spell out numbers less than 10, but use figures for numbers 10 and higher. You know, like three and five, but 12, 25, and 101.
But not for ages, say both AP and APA Styles:
Always use figures for ages.
The boy is 11 years old.
The neighborhood is 7 years old.
The 10-year-old dog (hyphens are used for ages expressed as adjectives).
The men are in their 20s (no apostrophe).
There are other instances in which you’d use figures for numbers less than 10, but we’ll tackle that lesson another day.
Punctuation and Composition Titles
I told you I’d be back with some scoop on punctuation and composition titles. And here I am with the lowdown on what proves to be some hard-to-remember style rules. (Well, hard for me to remember, anyway.)
If you’re using AP Style (AP = Associated Press), which pretty much governs fundamental journalistic principles, put the following in quotation marks:
Computer game titles
Radio program titles
TV program titles
Titles of lectures, speeches, and works of art
Classical music title nicknames, but not classical titles identified by sequence
(Example: Ludwig van Beethoven’s ”Ode to Joy” vs. Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9)
No quotes, though, for the Bible; books that are used for reference, like almanacs, directories, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and handbooks; and the titles of magazines or chapters. No italics or underlining, either. Just the title, and that’s all.
OK, got that straight? Good. Now, let’s mix things up.
APA Style (APA = American Psychological Association) is all about scholarly standards for scientific writing. This is the style you see in journal articles that feature research and theories and methods and tables and figures, and, well, it’s not much like AP Style when it comes to titles. Put the following in italics:
TV program titles
But, put these in quotation marks:
I’ll leave it up to you to figure out how you’ll remember these variations. Me? I’ll just keep my respective style books nearby (both hard copy and e-versions), and one day, maybe, I’ll commit them to memory.
But probably not.
Punctuation and Quotation Marks
AP Style and APA Style agree when it comes to punctuation and quotation marks:
The period and comma always go inside closing quotation marks (even single marks).
Correct: I said, “The period and comma always go inside closing quotation marks.”
Incorrect: I said, “The period and comma always go inside closing quotation marks”.
Question marks and exclamation points go inside closing quotation marks (even single marks) only when they apply to the quoted material. Otherwise, they go outside.
Correct: She asked, “Did you have fun at the school carnival?”
Incorrect: She asked, “Did you have fun at the school carnival”?
Correct: Have you seen the movie, “Crazy, Stupid, Love”?
Incorrect: Have you seen the movie, “Crazy, Stupid, Love?”
Correct: Have you seen the movie, “Dude, Where’s My Car?”
(The question mark only goes inside because it is part of the title.)
All other punctuation marks (think dash, colon, and semicolon) pretty much always go outside, unless they are part of the quoted material, but I think that would be a rare find.
Note: See how I put the movie title above in quotation marks? That’s AP Style, not APA Style—APA Style puts movie titles in italics. Ugh. Lesson in punctuation composition titles TK.
TK is a proofing/copyediting mark that means to come or more information to come. (Hey, period inside the quotes!)