Category Archives: Quick Editing Tips

SpewagE – Easy Plurals, Easy Apostrophes

Henceforth, I will share my acute and capacious superpowers foisted upon me by Mom (worked for Merriam-Webster as a proofreader) and Ang (who could complete the NYT Crossword in a day), and the years of research and learning stuff and “Looking Things Up.” 

I will share my experiences … Spelling, Proofreading, Editing, Writing, Apostrophes, Grammar, and English. “SpewagE.” I capped the last E because that’s how the art came out. 

Easy Plurals, Easy Apostrophes

Social Networking Yuckies

Over the last couple of years, I’ve seen more and more misuse of the apostrophe in plurals, especially on social networking posts. 

Plurals are simple (for the most part). Here are a handful:

Cats

Dogs

Scientists

Doctors 

Nurses

So, if you have one cat, you can have two cats, three cats, and so on. 

If you trust a scientist, then you can also trust two scientists, three scientists (and you can trust Dr. Fauci, too!). 

Apostrophes in Plurals

Plural’s do not need apostrophe’s. (Ew!)

Wrong – Mistake’s are being made. 

Correct – Mistakes are being made. 

Plurals do not need apostrophes. (Good!)

Apostrophes in Possessives

Now, this is where you need apostrophes – in possessives. 

The cat’s whiskers

The dog’s tail 

The scientist’s research 

The doctor’s white coat

The nurse’s stethoscope

* * *

Any questions? 

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Filed under Editing & Proofreading, Quick Editing Tips, Social Networking, Words & Vocabulary

SpewagE – There, Their, They’re

Henceforth, I will share my acute and capacious superpowers foisted upon me by Mom (worked for Merriam-Webster as a proofreader) and Ang (who could complete the NYT Crossword in a day), and the years of research and learning stuff and “Looking Things Up.” 

I will share my experiences … Spelling, Proofreading, Editing, Writing, Apostrophes, Grammar, and English. “SpewagE.” I capped the last E because that’s how the art came out. 

Homophones

The English language is plagued with gawd-awful homophones. They are a bug-a-boo even for born-in-the-USA English speakers. 

Consider:

You’re and Your (SpewagE – You’re/Your

To, Two, Too 

Yew, Ewe, You

For, Fore, Four

Bye, By, Buy (not to be confused with the NSYNC song, “Bye Bye Bye.”)

There, Their, They’re

There

Where? There. 

Where? There!  

Where did you put it? I put it there. 

It’s a place. And the last four letters of Where/There are the same. 

Whoomp, there it is! 

Their*

It’s a possessive pronoun. 

Their dogs. 

Their house. 

Their human rights. 

Their body, their choice. 

Little Fin Tips – Having trouble remembering?

It was her choice. It was his choice. It was their choice. 

*Personal note – I support our LGBTQ2S friends. This word is not just a possessive, but it’s a possessive pronoun, like she/hers, he/his, and they/theirs. Whatever pronouns you choose for yourselves, I support those choices. You have every right to choose your own personal pronouns. 

They’re

It’s a contraction. Short for “they are.” 

Drop the “A,” slap an apostrophe in it, et voila! They’re. 

They are going to get vaccinated – They’re going to get vaccinated. 

They are wearing masks at school – They’re wearing masks at school. 

They are standing up for women’s rights – They’re standing up for women’s rights. 

  *   *   * 

Get it? Got it? Fabulous!   


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Filed under Editing & Proofreading, Quick Editing Tips, Words & Vocabulary

SpewagE – You’re, Your

Henceforth, I will share my acute and capacious superpowers foisted upon me by Mom (worked for Merriam-Webster as a proofreader) and Ang (who could complete the NYT Crossword in a day), and the years of research and learning stuff and “Looking Things Up.”

I will share my experiences … Spelling, Proofreading, Editing, Writing, Apostrophes, Grammar, and English. “SpewagE.” I capped the last E because that’s how the art came out. 

You’re and Your (forget Yore for now)

Contractions

In written and verbal communication, contractions were first used in English in the 17th Century. You’d think we’d have them down by now. 

Stop the presses! 

I chatted online with my super-duper editor pal Shawn MacKenzie about this contraction thing – regarding the 17th century premise – and she said, “Makes sense – 1600s – end of Elizabethan times, moving into Jacobean…out of the Renaissance heading towards the Enlightenment. Everything was in flux.”

But then we chatted more and gosh darn, she sent articles proving my research wrong, that contractions were utilized as early as 450 AD. See Shawn’s links at the end of this blog post. 

What are contractions? 

Contractions are those funky words you deploy when you want to use shortened versions of Should not, or Could not, We are, They are, He is, She is, They are, You will, She will, Is not, Who would, Were not, Was not, I would, or I will.  If you are interested in a list, google “list of contractions, English.”

You’re and Your

Today we talk about the contraction YOU’RE and its friendly, misused, and twice-divorced cousin, YOUR

Examples of You’re

YOU ARE. Take out the “A,” slap an apostrophe in there, and you have YOU’RE. 

You are smart — > You’re smart.

You are so handsome — > You’re so handsome.

You are so freaking talented — > You’re so freaking talented! 

You are deluded — > You’re deluded. 

Now…let’s look at YOUR. 

Examples of Your  

YOUR is a possessive.

Your grasp of English is phenomenal.

Your flower garden is beautiful. 

Your grandchildren are so adorable. 

Oh no! Someone set fire to your trumpie flag! 

* * *

You’re all caught up on your You’re and Your now, right?

Get it? Got it? Good! 

Shawn’s links 

The History of Contractions

Origins – English Contractions

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Quick Editorial Tips VII – For Poetry!

Nash

Nash

I have edited and proofread some poetry, both for clients and as a favor for friends. Poetry is tough to critique honestly!You don’t want to crush the muse, you don’t want to offend (as poetry is so personal), but you do want the writer to reach a little, experiment with words and sounds, show true emotion.

I have a poetry collection coming together – hopefully I will publish this year with the help of editor Shawn MacKenzie Shawn MacKenzie and my book designer Elizabeth H. Cottrell.

I’d like to share some of my critique notes on poetry I have edited and proofread. Perhaps a few of you can refer to these notes when you beta read my poetry collection! Or perhaps you have decided to write or edit your own poetry.

Struggle for rhyme

Don’t struggle – it will be evident. Try to make the rhyme flow. Rhymes don’t necessarily have to be the same letters like in “ease” and “please.” Rhymes can come from similar vowel sounds. For instance – try “verse” with “search.” Or “son” with “become.”

Echo…echo

Look at your collection – does it use a lot of the same old common words?

Reach for it! Pull out the thesaurus and open up your vocabulary. Don’t use familiar words over and over (people reading your collection will notice).

Thoreau

Thoreau

Tickle a funny bone

How many collections have you read where all the poetry is the same – sadness, depression, lost love, loneliness. It’s depressing to read, too.

Try a little humor! What makes you laugh? Try to tap into this laughter with a light-hearted piece or two.

Does this comma make me look fat?

A comma adds a pause and changes the cadence; it changes the way a reader reads the lines and the piece. Along those same lines…

…Try reading your own work out loud

I do this for clients and friends, and I also do it while reading a “finished” piece or my own. I often change things around a bit after I’ve heard it out loud.

Have a friend read it aloud to you. You can hear where the reader stumbles and pauses.

Change the sequence of words

Instead of “I lost my love,” try “the love I lost.”

Instead of “the worm squiggles and wriggles,” try “the squiggly-wriggly worm.”

Auden

Auden

Caps or no caps?

The use of caps at the beginning of a line or a sentence within a poem is a personal choice. Sometimes we don’t want to use any caps, nor do we want to use any punctuation. But consider it both ways.

Would the piece be enhanced with a few caps along the way?

Would it read better with some additional (or less) punctuation?

Left justified all?

Consider lay-out and indents. Are all your poems left justified?

Experiment! Put a few lines left justified then poke the fourth or fifth line into right justified or indented.

Haiku anyone?

Look at your poems. Do they all look like blood relatives? Are they all laid out the same way? Few lines and a break, few lines and a break…

Throw in some haiku or a long-paragraph prose piece. Study and employ alternative poetry forms.

What have others written?

Read others’ poetry. Search for your favorite poets online.

I’m inspired by Ogden Nash (what a hoot), Auden, Poe, Thoreau, Thomas.

Poe

Poe

Is there a theme?

Some of my poems have a theme, like the sea and waves or art and canvas.

Put a theme into a few of your pieces; use of similes and metaphors can make it more real to a reader.

Smell is the strongest sense

When someone talks about warm apple pie or the lilac scent drifting through the bedroom window…do you remember? Can you smell it?

Darn tootin’ you can!

Interject some smells into your poetry to get the reader more involved.

In your comment

Feel free to include links to your favorite poets, one of your own poems, or a poetry site you especially like.

LET’S HAVE SOME FUN!

I’ll start a poem, you add to it. Poem stanzas will be in ALL CAPS.

If you don’t want to add to the poem, no problem (try it, you might like it!). You can still comment!

Here goes…

I THINK MY BONES HAVE GONE WEAK AND BRITTLE,

THEY’RE NOT AS BENDY AS WHEN I WAS LITTLE,

All photos from Wikipedia.com.

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Filed under Editing & Proofreading, Prose & Poetry, Publishing, Quick Editing Tips