GrammarPhile Blog

Kelly Creighton

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Should Writers and Editors Practice Grammar?

Posted by Kelly Creighton   Mar 15, 2019 7:30:00 AM

“Language, never forget, is more fashion than science, and matters of usage, spelling and pronunciation tend to wander around like hemlines.”

― Bill Bryson, The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way

What do you think? Do writers and editors need to continually practice grammar rules and language traditions as they are used by others? Or do you think that they should dictate the grammar rules and traditions that others use? Or do you perhaps think they should do a little bit of both?

Language is not static and is always changing; this much is certain. Remember when “LOL” wasn’t in the dictionary? Punctuation usage and grammar rules have also changed over time, especially in this era of social media, electronic communications, grammar-checking software, and artificial intelligence.

Perhaps editors and writers should abide by grammar rules and dictate those rules as if they were lexicographers. Lexicographers add words to the dictionary when those words have widespread, sustained, and meaningful use. Or is this what writers and editors already do? Do writers and editors already add or adjust grammar rules in style guides and similar resources when those rules change over time and exhibit widespread, sustained, and meaningful use?

So, what should writers and editors do to practice grammar rules that change over time? How about the following?

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Topics: trends in language

10 Things That Are Strange to Non-Native English Speakers

Posted by Kelly Creighton   Feb 28, 2019 7:30:00 AM

Here are ten things that can seem strange to non-native English speakers.

1. Questions and Answers With Both Affirming and Negating Terms

Native English speakers say things like, “You want to eat that, don’t you?” and “No, that’s okay” all the time. This can be confusing to non-native English speakers because they don’t understand whether the person saying things like this wants something or will do something, or not.

2. The Rule: “i” Before “e” Except After “C”

As native English speakers know, there are exceptions to nearly every grammar rule, especially this one. The letter “i” doesn’t always come before the letter “e” except when it’s placed after the letter “c” in a word. For example, the words “science,” “efficient,” and “beige” are exceptions to this rule.

3. Telling Time

In other languages, or even various dialects of English, people would say “it is half past two” or “it is half of three” when telling time. They would not say “It is 2:30.”

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What Kind of Training Should Pro Editors and Proofreaders Have?

Posted by Kelly Creighton   Feb 21, 2019 7:30:00 AM

Editors and proofreaders require a lot of training. And while they both have different professional responsibilitiesthe training they require is similar and often overlaps.

What kind of training do you think professional editors and proofreaders should have? What would you add to or remove from the list below?

Bachelor’s Degree

Usually editors and proofreaders have a four-year degree in English, journalism, or communications from an accredited college or university. This indicates that an individual has some mastery over the English language and that he or she is comfortable with writing and evaluating various types of written text. They tend to have advanced knowledge of English grammar, language, composition, etc.

Sometimes extensive experience in editing or proofreading can substitute for the four-year degree. But this is, of course, at the discretion of the employer.

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Topics: skills needed for proofreading, professional proofreader

Grammar-Checking Software Doesn't Catch Everything: Here's Proof

Posted by Kelly Creighton   Feb 1, 2019 7:30:00 AM

Grammar-checking software can catch common typos and spelling errors. And it can certainly expedite the writing and editorial processes. But it can’t or won’t identify every type of grammatical error out there. Want proof?

Consider the following examples below. Each example was run through the following software: Microsoft Office Word’s built-in grammar checker, Grammarly, Ginger, and Language Tool.  The error(s) each software caught are highlighted. See if you can identify how many mistakes each grammar-checking software missed. And feel free to run each example below through your own grammar-checking software too, if it wasn’t already used here, to see if it catches any additional mistakes.

Be sure to read Grammar-Checking Software: A Quick Review before you get started for some additional insight and tips.

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Topics: grammar checker software, automated grammar checker

Holiday Quiz: Can You Spot the Grammar Mistake(s)?

Posted by Kelly Creighton   Dec 20, 2018 7:30:00 AM

It’s time to get into the holiday spirit … with grammatically correct holiday terms, phrases, and colloquialisms.  

Take the quiz below and select the option that correctly fills in each blank, and then share your results with us in the comments. Also, be sure to share this quiz with others who may be grammatically inclined too. We wish you a joyous holiday season!

 

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Topics: quiz, grammar quiz

Are Grammar Rules Different for Different Professions?

Posted by Kelly Creighton   Dec 6, 2018 7:30:00 AM

Writing would be much easier to do and understand if there were hard and fast grammar rules that never change or fluctuate. Yet that would also make it a lot less fun and interesting … which would mean that there would be fewer writers, editors, and readers in the world.  

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Topics: grammar rules

Suffixes and Prefixes: The Basics

Posted by Kelly Creighton   Nov 15, 2018 7:30:00 AM

As you may already know, a prefix is that string of coherent letters that we add (or “affix”) to the beginning of a word, and suffixes are letters that we add to the end of a word. However, they have a lot of usage rules and grammatical quirks to master. And although they’re small, they yield a lot of grammatical power, as they can significantly alter the entire meaning of a word or sentence (which is in fact their sole purpose most of the time). Spelling them can be challenging sometimes, too.

So where do you begin when considering suffixes and prefixes? Here are the basics, as you consider when and how to use and spell them.

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Topics: prefixes, suffixes, affixes

Why Is Parallel Structure Important in Writing?

Posted by Kelly Creighton   Oct 25, 2018 7:52:54 AM

We often forget how important the overall structure of a sentence is to its flow, meaning, and tone. And we also take common grammatical practices for granted when we use parallel structure, because we typically use them with ease and without much intentional thought at all. However, when we get parallel structure in writing wrong, it goes really wrong and we typically never even notice it without the help of a reliable editor or proofreader.

What Is Parallel Structure?

Parallel structure in writing is also called “parallelism.” Here’s a definition of “parallel structure” provided by Purdue Online Writing Lab:

Parallel structure means using the same pattern of words to show that two or more ideas have the same level of importance. This can happen at the word, phrase, or clause level. The usual way to join parallel structures is with the use of coordinating conjunctions such as “and” and “or.”

Overall, parallel structure guarantees uniformity and consistency throughout a piece of writing, to ensure its clarity and accuracy. And by making each compared item or idea in a phrase or clause follow the same grammatical pattern, you create a parallel construction.

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Topics: parallel structure, parallelism

What You Need to Know About AI and Writing in the Digital Age

Posted by Kelly Creighton   Sep 13, 2018 7:30:00 AM

Ready or not, we’ve already begun living in the fourth industrial revolution: the age of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, robots, biotechnology, and smart devices. And in this new era, a lot of individuals are becoming concerned that robots will start stealing and destroying jobs across industries, replacing their human counterparts, and that they’ll eventually run everything in the world … or at the very least change the way that everything operates.

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Topics: artificial intelligence, writers

Is It Possible to Be Unbiased When Writing?

Posted by Kelly Creighton   Aug 23, 2018 7:30:00 AM

According to psychological research, we humans do indeed believe people are prone to bias… but only others, of course. We tend to believe that our actions and reactions are exempt from conscious or subconscious biases, but others are certainly capable of bias.

Researchers of human behavior believe that bias and stereotypical thinking are the result of our evolutionary response to survival. We have learned over the centuries to quickly categorize and evaluate other people and our surroundings on both conscious and subconscious levels so that we can make snap judgments and decisions that keep us alive. Researchers also believe that our environment and the culture surrounding us before we reach the age of five influence our biases, as well. (Source: Psychology Today)

But regardless of our evolutionary proclivities or immediate surroundings or past cultural environments, there is a way to shed our biases when we’re writing. When choosing our diction, pronouns, and subject matter, we have an opportunity to evaluate words on the page repeatedly before we share them with others.

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