About Misplaced Modifiers
A common stylistic issue I come across while editing is misplaced modifiers. In short, a misplaced modifier is a word, phrase, or clause that is separated from the word it modifies, causing awkwardness or confusion. Misplaced modifiers can also change the meaning of a sentence or be totally illogical. In this post, I analyze some examples of poorly placed modifiers and discuss the best practice for using modifiers.
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On the Subject of Grammar “Rules”
This afternoon, I was thinking, as I often do, about grammar rules. After speaking with a client and giving some feedback, I was struck by the blurry and subjective nature of English grammar. We often speak of grammar “rules,” but to what extent are the rules actually “rules”? Who even makes the rules? It’s not as clear as I once thought, which has made my life as an editor more challenging but also far more interesting.
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How to Use an Em Dash
The em dash (the longest of the three types of dash) is a useful piece of punctuation, but it’s often misused (though not as much as commas) and not typographically rendered correctly. In this post, I’ll discuss how to use an em dash and how to correctly format it in your text. Also, all my examples in this post are space-themed, so buckle up!
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Using commas with and and but
About a month ago, I wrote a post about a common comma mistake: separating the subject and the verb with a comma. Here, I’m going to tackle how to use commas with the coordinating conjunctions and and but. Of course, we use commas with these coordinating conjunctions in lists, but I’m not here to discuss the serial comma today. I want to talk about using commas with and and but to separate independent clauses.
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Why I started using Grammarly
I used to cry out against Grammarly and similar “proofreading” software. I argued that these programs were no substitute for proper editing. While I still support that assertion, I’ve come around on Grammarly and now incorporate it into my editing work.
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How to use myself and other reflexive pronouns
Authors often misuse reflexive pronouns like myself, yourself, and itself. Usually, they use them interchangeably with I, me, you, it, etc. (maybe because they sound fancier). In this post, I’ll define reflexives and discuss how to use myself and other similar words in a grammatically correct way.
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Don’t separate the subject and verb with a comma
The comma is the most misused piece of punctuation. Commas are flexible to an extent, but there are several general rules that govern their usage. In this post, I tackle a very common comma mistake: separating the subject and the verb with a comma.
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How to fix a comma splice
The comma splice is a very common punctuation error. In this post, I’ll describe comma splices and outline how to identify, avoid, and repair them.
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What is the passive voice? Part 2 of 2
In the first part of my two-part series “What is the passive voice?” I talked about the differences between the active and passive voices and the ways to spot passive constructions. In this second part, I’ll theorize about why the passive voice is considered bad or weak writing, discuss some strategies for revising passive constructions, and describe situations in which the passive voice can be useful or preferable. Click here to check out the first part of the series, “What is the passive voice? Part 1.”
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What is the passive voice? Part 1 of 2
The passive voice is in some ways the boogeyman of writing because it is widely misunderstood. You’ve probably heard that the passive voice is grammatically wrong (it’s not) or that it is akin to weak writing (it usually isn’t). So what is the passive voice? I’m here to clear the air. I have a lot to say, so I’m breaking my discussion into two parts. In this first part, I’ll describe what the passive voice is and how to identify it.
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