GrammarPhile Blog

Sara Richmond

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Who vs. Whom: The Easy Way to Remember

Posted by Sara Richmond   Oct 7, 2021 10:30:00 AM

A list of the top five things that tick people off includes toilet paper hung backwards (whichever way that is), the sound of people chewing loudly, and the misuse of who and whom.

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Topics: who, whom

8 Updates to the Associated Press Stylebook

Posted by Sara Richmond   Sep 9, 2021 10:30:00 AM

When I was 8 years old, I thought all the songs on the radio were being performed live. Whitney Houston sure did sing a lot. I assumed the drummers from my older brother’s favorite “alternative rock” bands probably had to brace their arms in slings during commercial breaks, for all the playing they did. That was how musical artists earned the big money — performing several dozen times a day. It had to be exhausting being in the Top 20.

I don’t remember the moment I realized the songs were all recordings, but I do know that knowledge felt like a bit of a letdown. Just because it made more sense didn’t mean I was eager to adjust my perspective.

There’s a lesson in that. People are generally averse to change even if it’s for the sake of a broadened understanding and a more well-rounded view. We sometimes cling to the past, a perspective, and even the nonsensical simply because it’s our normal. And normal is comfortable. But there’s a way to marry the dependable with developments, specifically when it comes to writing.

You may remember our advice on style guide updates. To summarize: Toss out the old and swaddle the new. It’s whatany reputable style guide does, including AP, which is used by nearly a gazillion people worldwide. (A “gazillion” is hyperbole, a beefed-up form of exaggeration, and frowned upon by AP because it consists of statements that cannot be supported by facts. This clarification adheres to the most recent AP guidance on misinformation.)

If you’re one of those gazillion, check out this brief list of recent updates straight from the AP horse’s mouth*:

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Topics: AP style, Style Guides, Popular Style Guides

How to Develop Your In-House Style Guide

Posted by Sara Richmond   Aug 26, 2021 10:30:00 AM

An in-house style guide can take your life from VCR to VCR+. Despite its imposing name, creating and implementing an in-house style guide is a simple process.

First, go inside your house. A dog or chicken house will also work in a pinch. Next, put on the most fashionable thing you own. Even better: Put on many of the most fashionable things you own. Then, walk back outside and sashay down the sidewalk (bonus points if you drag a leash without an animal attached). Finally, record your neighbors’ reactions in real time and post them on social media for posterity.


If you prefer more specific and factual instructions, here are six quick tips on how to nail down a comprehensive and practical in-house style guide.

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Topics: style guide

Tagline Contest Winner!

Posted by Sara Richmond   Aug 12, 2021 10:30:00 AM

The public has spoken, and native Canadian Maureen McLeod is our winner!

(We became aware that the formerly published tagline, though not intended for use in any capacity beside this contest, is coincidentally in use in a very similar form by another company. Out of respect, we’ve preemptively removed the winning tagline from this blog post.)

Maureen writes limericks for fun. Her friends tell her she could be a Jeopardy star, but she slams the competition from the comfort of her home. When her children were four and eleven years old, she and her husband sold their house and vehicles, packed their belongings into a second-hand camper, and traveled around the United States for 10 months. Just for fun. “He was adventurous,” she says.

In short, Maureen is “good people.”

It should come as no surprise then, that she won our Tagline Contest. Her liveliness is paired fairly with a delightful sense of humor. More specifically to the point, she has been wielding the English language with aplomb and precision for decades.

She grew up in a small community in Northern Alberta. “A tiny, hamlet town,” she says. Her father was the school principal, and despite the fact that there was no library, he always found ways to get them books. Those stories opened up her world and set her on a path to her love of knowledge and the English language.

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Topics: contest

Vote for Your Favorite Tagline

Posted by Sara Richmond   Jul 29, 2021 10:15:00 AM



We are blown away by the number of our readers who submitted their entries for our completely bogus Tagline Contest. We received many, many submissions and our staff had a difficult time selecting the top five. In fact, because there were three taglines that tied for fifth, you'll have seven taglines to choose from to pick our winner.

Remember what’s up for grabs: A $50 Amazon gift card, infinite bragging rights, and 14.82 minutes of fame (including the option to be featured in follow-up blog/LinkedIn posts).

Vote for your favorite tagline by ranking the taglines below. We will notify the winner by email and announce the winner publicly on August 12, 2021.

Get those votes in!  The deadline for voting is 5:00 pm ET on August 5, 2021. 

We loved hearing from all of you! Thanks for the laughs!


Voting has ended. Come back on August 12 to find out who won!




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Topics: contest

Enter Our Tagline Contest

Posted by Sara Richmond   Jul 15, 2021 10:00:00 AM

Fancy yourself a genius creative? Love grammar? Want to make the world a better place? Angling for a short-lived Amazon shopping spree? Then you’re just who we’ve been looking for.

First, the completely made-up premise:

We made the mistake of hiring our cousin’s boyfriend’s dog’s best friend and self-proclaimedcopywriting and marketing guru” to come up with a list of possible new taglines for We lost confidence in him based on his subsequent two-word e-mail responses consisting of “Huh?” and “K.”

He finally submitted a snarky note three weeks after our deadline asserting that he was confident whatever he lacked in actual experience he’d made up for with excessiveness, along with the following long and atrocious list.

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Topics: contest

Style Guides: The Summer 2021 Fashionable Grammar Line

Posted by Sara Richmond   Jun 24, 2021 10:00:00 AM

Good business is the perpetual pursuit of consistency. Consistent quality, service, transparency, work culture, branding, and…grammar.

If you’ve worked in the corporate world for longer than three seconds (or with more than one other person for more than 17.358 days), you know consistency can seem like an unachievable dream, akin to walking on the moon in the year 1523.

Enter the venerable style guide. While it can’t make up for everything an erratic work culture lacks or propel you to the moon, we guarantee using one will preserve your sanity and make your life significantly better.* uses a variety of style guides to standardize our approach to your business documents. In this way, the rules that guide our proofreading are clear and dependable, for all types of submissions. Your expectations and our process are both defined and harmonious. Win-win.

There are three fundamental aspects to our style guide usage:

1. The Norm: Our baseline is the Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition. For every document submitted to us without an in-house style guide, we’ll apply this manual, by default. This practice ensures there are no distractions like wonky punctuation or a smattering of compound words without hyphens that will make readers grow extra eyebrow hair in consternation. So if clients specifically abhor this manual, either for its grammatical prescriptions or an aversion to its namesake city (probably because of the wind, which makes it difficult to read and write), a heads up is appreciated.

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Topics: Style Guides, Popular Style Guides

How to Correct Grammar Without Being a Jerk: A Genteel Person’s Guide

Posted by Sara Richmond   Jun 10, 2021 7:30:00 AM

Telling people that they’re wrong is one of the most exquisite joys life has to offer. The fly in this highbrow soup is determining how to do so without causing offense to your more grammar-bereft counterparts.

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Topics: correcting grammar, grammar errors

Easy Grammar Tips for B2B & B2C Writers - Part 2

Posted by Sara Richmond   May 27, 2021 7:30:00 AM

Looking for an easy, incredible return on investment for your business writing? You don’t need exhaustive grammar lessons or online courses to up your game and capture your audience. You need 5 minutes. We’ve gathered our top writing tips, based on the errors we most commonly correct for our clients.

First, check out Part 1, here.

  • Homographs and Easily Confused Words

Words that are spelled differently, sound similar/identical, and have different meanings are called homographs. We often see one used in place of another.

Examples include accept and except, insure and ensure, compliment and complement, piece and peace, principal and principle.

However, there are other words with such similar spellings that they’re easily confused, like contact and contract, form and from, casual and causal.

Speedy typing is usually the culprit. Keep an eye out for homographs that trip you up or commonly used words in your industry that, with a letter or two switched, take on a whole new meaning.

  • Which vs. That

Use “that” when what follows is necessary to understand the sentence/context. Use “which” when what follows could be removed without affecting the meaning of the sentence.

For example: The file that I need is saved on the cloud. The white paper, which I wrote in a hammock on the beach in about 25 minutes, failed to impress my boss.

See how you could take the parenthetical out of the second sentence and still have the same meaning (with fewer details)?

Need it: that. Could do without: which.

Note: This explanation applies to North American English; in the U.K., there is greater flexibility in these usages.

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Easy Grammar Tips for B2B & B2C Writers -  Part 1

Posted by Sara Richmond   May 13, 2021 7:30:00 AM

You need fast. You need easy. With your busy schedule, slowing down to learn the ins and outs of grammar minutiae isn’t just unappealing, it’s inconceivable. The five minutes it will take you to read this will save you exponentially more time in the future. These quick and simple grammar tips for business writing are based on some of the most common errors we correct:

  • Subject-Verb Agreement

For the most part, this is obvious. You don’t write: I are the CEO. The return on investment am bad.

But there’s the less obvious: Nouns that are plural in form but singular in meaning usually take singular verbs. Nouns that name a group of people or things take singular verbs.

For example: News travels fast; bad news travels faster. Economics is a fascinating subject, said no one, ever. The company is supplying ergonomic chairs made entirely of pillows. A flock of seagulls does all of our accounting.

  • Capitalization in Heads

If you’re unsure when/what to capitalize in titles and headings, here’s a summary. Capitalize everything but:

    • Articles (a, an, the)
    • Conjunctions (connecting words like for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so)
    • Prepositions (words that often show direction, time, and location, such as of, with, to, on, before, into, over, about).

If an article, conjunction, or preposition begins or ends a title, capitalize it.

Some style guides, like AP, call for capitalizing conjunctions and prepositions of four or more letters, phrasal verbs (e.g., Turn Off, Look For) and verbs in an infinitive (e.g., To Be, To Analyze).

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Topics: proofreading for business, professional proofreading, grammar tips

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