Tag Archives: editing

SpewagE – Cool Commas

Let’s continue the SpewagE series on the blog – because there is so much to talk about and unpack.

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

Cool Commas

Commas are so cool, so gnarly, and so groovy. But, why so confusing? 

We can talk about commas all the live-long day. There are transitional expressions, absolute phrases, commas in dates and addresses and numbers, in titles, with coordinating conjunctions, coordinate adjectives, interrogative phrases, and in series, and yikes, the list goes on and on and on. 

I had general ideas for this Cool Commas blog, but I also referred to my Strunk and White, Elements of Style and my favorite reference of all time, Rules for Writers by Diana Hacker. 

Here are a few basic examples, reflected from checking in with those two tomes and my own experience with having a Mom and Ang who constantly told me to “Look it up” and then made me look it up. 

Simple – And 

I am old, and I am beautiful.

Both underlined segments are stand alone. In other words, “I am old” is a sentence, and “I am beautiful” is a sentence. So, I add the comma before the “and.” 

I am old and beautiful.

“I am old” is a sentence, but “beautiful” cannot stand alone. So, no comma before the “and.”

Simple – But 

Same basic idea as “and” above. 

I am old, but I am feisty and politically engaged. (Both before and after the “but” are full sentences.) 

I am old but feisty and politically engaged. (Just the first part, “I am old” is a full sentence.) 

The serial or Oxford comma

I will give up my Oxford comma when you pry it from my cold, dead, and gnarled hand. 

The Oxford comma is the second comma after “dead.” 

Example of why I honor and continue to utilize the Oxford comma in a series: 

“I love my parents, James Taylor and Carly Simon.” (Indicates my parents are James Taylor and Carly Simon.)

“I love my parents, James Taylor, and Carly Simon.” (Indicates I love all three.) 

You could also change it up and write, “I love James Taylor, Carly Simon, and my parents.”

*     *     *

Do you typically wing it when it comes to comma placement, or do you have rules?  

*     *     *

A dragon-sized thank you to Shawn MacKenzie who has been editing and proofreading all these SpewagE blogs since I started them September 5, 2021. Shawn is the author of The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook, Dragons for BeginnersLlewellyn’s Little Book of Dragons, and the upcoming Tarot of Dragons (about which you’ll be hearing more in the months to come), as well as numerous other fictions and essays.

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Filed under Editing & Proofreading, Quick Editing Tips

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

Ditching the website, still The Word Shark

Ditching the website

I’ve decided to ditch The Word Shark DOT com (and the cost).

Why?

Because most of my clients come from referrals or my blog, not the website. Most of the traffic on my website comes from “marketing professionals” and “sales professionals” who know the “sure fire way” to turn my site around and make a bigger profit.

Profit margin vs. website cost

Over the last few years, about 95% of the traffic on my website is from scummy, spammy spammers.

100% of my business comes from satisfied customer referrals.

Word of mouth

I don’t need a website. I’ve got a tribe of happy, satisfied clients to plump my pillows at night.

Still Shark

While I won’t be – officially via a website – The Word Shark, I’ll always be YOUR Word Shark.

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Filed under Branding & Platform, Editing & Proofreading, Social Networking