GrammarPhile Blog

Sara Richmond

Recent Posts

Is Paying for Proofreading Worth It?

Posted by Sara Richmond   Sep 29, 2022 12:00:00 PM

The Cost of Professional B2B Proofreading

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Topics: business proofreading

When to Hyphenate an Age

Posted by Sara Richmond   Sep 15, 2022 8:30:00 AM

Using or Dropping the “Year Old” Hyphen

First of all, you’re not silly or dumb for being confused over this. The problem is that ages are used as different parts of speech and in different orders in a sentence.

 That makes all the difference as to whether you need a hyphen for clarity.

Here are the simple rules you need to know to hyphenate ages correctly:

Hyphenate an Age Being Used as a Noun

Nouns are words for people, places, things, or ideas. Ages are being used as nouns in the following:

  • I think six-year-olds are the cutest because they haven’t lost their baby cheeks.
  • An eighty-year-old is bound to be wiser than a twenty-year-old.
  • A recipe for silliness: fifteen-year-olds and helium balloons.

Essentially, you’re using hyphens to group the related words together as a single noun.

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Topics: hyphen

I Made a Grammar Mistake. Now What?

Posted by Sara Richmond   Aug 25, 2022 9:00:00 AM

How to correct grammar mistakes

“What do you do when you find a mistake in your writing?” I asked ProofreadNOW.com President Phil Jamieson.

“Well, the first thing I do is feel a great sense of shame,” he answered with his characteristic gravity.

I laughed.

He smiled. “It’s not a soul-crushing shame,” he added. “I’m not, you know, suicidal. But I hate making mistakes.”

I laughed more. Then sighed inwardly. I know that cringey feeling. I’ve yelled, “Oh, come on!” more than a few times after sending an email I proofed 17.43 times, only to notice “farter” instead of “father” in the text. Or some other silliness that my brain (and spell-check) refused to acknowledge.

Assuming you’re human, you understand. And if you’re reading this post because you just sent a mass email with the subject line “We apologize for the incontinence during renovations,” you have our compassion.

We can’t give you a time machine or a memory-altering device, but as people who specialize in correcting other people’s grammar (and our own), here are some action steps to take after you commit a grammatical faux pas.

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Topics: grammar errors, writing mistakes

Can I Proofread My Own Work?

Posted by Sara Richmond   Aug 11, 2022 10:30:00 AM

Tips for Self-Editing and Proofreading

Maybe you can’t pay for professional proofreading. Maybe it would be wrong for you to pay for a proofreading service (say, for a college essay, which would give you an unfair advantage over your peers). Maybe you just want to better your self-proofing skills to gain more confidence as a writer.

Whatever the reason, you can proofread your own work. To prove it and to ensure you leave this page armed with everything you need to proofread your writing with ease, we interviewed ProofreadNOW.com President Phil Jamieson for his top self-proofing tips.

Use Spell-check But Don’t Trust It

Make the most of spell-check, but don’t assume for a skinny minute it’s a foolproof way to prevent errors. Take it from proofreaders who see thousands of documents a week: Spell-check gives you a false sense of security because it doesn’t have a brain capable of critical thinking.

For example: “Pubic” is a correctly spelled word. Spell-check doesn’t know you meant “public.” Spell-check doesn’t care that you meant “public.” Spell check will let you prance all the way to your presentation with C-suite until you click to the slide with that word in 72-point font on a 10-foot-wide screen and accidentally read it as written.

There’s no graceful recovery for that moment. Bless your heart. (And don’t even get us started on “prostrate” versus “prostate.”)

And as for checking grammar, well, just type “The boy the girls loves is here.” into a Word doc with the so-called grammar checker on and see what it thinks: NOTHING.

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Topics: proofreading tips

3 Reasons You Should Copyright Your Written Work and How to Do It

Posted by Sara Richmond   Jul 28, 2022 9:00:00 AM

I never made a mistake in grammar but one in my life and as soon as I done it I seen it. - Carl Sandburgas The internet is amazing and messy. It gives nearly everyone the chance to have a voice, to create, and to showcase their skills, especially writers. For work or for fun, whether you consider yourself a writer or not, if you’ve ever published or shared anything online that you’ve written, you’ve probably wondered whether you should copyright it. Which brings us to the downside: Worldwide access to virtually everything that’s published online is often paired with a shocking amount of plagiarism/virtual theft.

  • We’ve seen it:
    • A LinkedIn post with three words changed from the original writer’s.
    • A homepage or logo or tagline that is almost identical to a competitor’s.
    • A family’s fake GoFundMe page with a story copied directly from a new site.
  • We’ve committed it:
    • Reshared a story we didn’t realize was under copyright.
    • Used a source without citing it correctly.
    • Reposted a funny image that had a user license.

  • We’ve been the victim:
    • Your work appears on somebody else’s site without attribution.
    • The greeting card you submitted for publishing is rejected, but you see it, word for word, by the same company, in a grocery store a couple of years later.
    • A client refuses to pay for a white paper you wrote but broadcasts it to their email list anyway.

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Topics: copyright

I Can’t Write

Posted by Sara Richmond   Jul 14, 2022 9:00:00 AM

5 Easy Steps to Become a Better Writer

In your own words, you stink at writing. You’d rather do long division without a calculator while sitting in the sun as mosquitos feast on your legs. When you try to write, you feel overwhelmed and foolish. The results are always embarrassing.

Every now and then, you get an idea that seems brilliant. You type it out, read it back, and realize it’s actually trash. So you toss it, along with your hopes and dreams, into the bin. You avoid writing. Your standard response to anything writing-related is, “I can’t write.”

Enough already. This is codswallop, and I’ll prove it in five ways, just before I give you five easy steps you can take to become a better writer.

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Percent vs. Percentage

Posted by Sara Richmond   Jun 23, 2022 9:00:00 AM

If you just googled “When to use percent or percentage,” you’ve come to the right place. Here’s what you need to know:

“Percent” and “percentage” are sometimes used interchangeably, especially when people are speaking informally. But these words actually have slightly different meanings (“percent” is one part of a hundred; “percentage” is a part of a whole) and are different parts of speech; “percent” is an adverb and “percentage” is a noun.

The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition, our preferred style guide (mainly because anything over 1,100 pages must be right), has this to say on the issue:

“Despite changing usage, Chicago continues to regard percent as an adverb (“per, or out of, each hundred,” as in 10 percent of the class)—or, less commonly, an adjective (a 10 percent raise)—and to use percentage as the noun form (a significant percentage of her income). The symbol %, however, may stand for either word.” (3.82)

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Topics: percentage points, percentage, percent, percent sign

10 Best Online Word Games

Posted by Sara Richmond   Jun 9, 2022 10:15:00 AM

The word “best” is a troublemaker. “Best” can mean most popular by number of downloads. Or highest rated by reviews. “Best” can mean a list of personal favorites without any supporting data. “Best” can just mean “I really want this blog post to rank for SEO.”

“Best” can also mean we did our best, and we think this is a dandy list of games that, unless you actually hate word games, will tickle your linguistic bone, satisfy your boredom, and give you bragging rights for days.

Here are the 10 best online word games, in no particular order.

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The Danger of Proofreading Your Own Work

Posted by Sara Richmond   May 19, 2022 10:30:00 AM

Muphry’s Law and What to Look Out For

The author sent me a copy of her published manuscript. The acknowledgements page thanked several notable people, including her editor. I squealed with delight and flipped through the pages, coming to rest midway through the book. A typo glared up at me.

I groaned and shut the book.

Yes, the editor was me.

“Murphy’s Law” states “If something can go wrong, it will.”1 For the sake of people cringing the world over, it’s been extended and adapted to various industries, including editing.

The similar and equally cynical “Muphry’s Law” is a summary of four editorial principles:

    1. If you write anything criticizing editing or proofreading, there will be a fault in what you have written. (I call this the Prepare to Eat Crow principle.)
    2. If an author thanks you in a book for your editing or proofreading, there will be mistakes in the book. (Also known as Inflate and Deflate, as illustrated by the first paragraph of this post.)
    3. The stronger the sentiment in (a) and (b), the greater the fault.
    4. Any book devoted to editing or style will be internally inconsistent.2

If you, like me, can confirm the truth of these statements, welcome to a large and humble group of people who love language even though it trips them up.

For the sake of reducing Muphry’s Law from a jack hammer to a mosquito-buzzing level of frustration, here are a few stumbling blocks we often miss in our own work.

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Topics: proofreading mistakes

When to Use the Letter C

Posted by Sara Richmond   May 5, 2022 11:00:00 AM

Spelling with the sounds of letter C

The letter C is a big weirdo. Some people might even think it’s useless. It’s a K and S wannabe, but just not up to standing on its own, right?

First of all, how dare you insult such a cute letter. Second, no. Allow me to explain what this letter is all about, and how and when to use it.

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Topics: pronunciation

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