Tag Archives: Writing Projects

Self-Editing Tip #10: Apostrophe

31 Jul

The Apostrophe: Ownership versus Plurals—Today’s tip covers a topic which has numerous examples both of what to do and what not to do.

Look at the graphic. Can you spot the apostrophe catastrophe? It reads, “Parent’s please do not let your kid’s stand or play with the chair’s. Thank you.”

There are actually three, and let’s not even get started with the strange parentheses or half-quotation marks going on there, or even how every “T” is capitalized regardless of its placement in the word.

All three apostrophes are placed incorrectly. In this example, they aren’t needed at all. Placing an apostrophe in such a way does not make a plural noun as the writer of this sign seems to think. It means those nouns are showing ownership of something.

Ex. Ellen’s TV show is very funny.

To make a word plural, simply add an “s.” The sign should read, “Parents, Please do not let your kids stand or play with the chairs. Thank you.” I would also argue that it should say, “stand on or play with the chairs,” but semantics is not our topic.

The only instance where an apostrophe is ever needed for a plural word is when the plural noun is also showing ownership over a plural object. In cases such as these, the apostrophe belongs after the “s.”

Ex. The butterflies’ cocoons were nearly ready to hatch.

Not shown in the image, but equally important and misused, are apostrophes for contractions. These are words like, “it’s,” “aren’t,” “can’t,” “we’re,” and so on, where two words have been merged for convenience and less formal usage. It is especially important to remember the apostrophe for, “it’s,” and “we’re,” as removing it still leaves us with valid words, but drastically different implications on the same sentence.

Ex. We’re going to lunch.=We are going to lunch.

Were going to lunch.=incomplete sentence

OR We were going to lunch.

Ex. It’s time to go.=It is time to go.

Its time to go.= incomplete sentence

OR Its time to go drew near.

For more grammar information, come back regularly for new tips. Also check out Martha Kolln and Loretta Gray’s book Rhetorical Grammar: Grammatical Choices, Rhetorical Effects (6th or 7th edition). I’ve mentioned it before and will continue to do so. It’s really vital for anyone looking to learn the nuances of Standard Written American English (SWAE) or refresh what they already know.

Self-Editing Tip #9 Commonly Misused/Misspelled Words

30 Jul

Commonly Misused/Misspelled Words

Today’s tip is more of a reference which will continue to grow over time.

Look at this list of words. Do you know the proper usages?

  • Choose-present tense verb/Chose-past tense verb
  • Loose-adjective/Lose-verb
  • They’re-contraction for “They are”/Their-shows possession of something for more than one person simultaneously/There-points out a place
  • You’re-contraction for “You are”/Your-shows possession
  • To-preposition/Too-adjective/Two-noun, the number
  • Effect-noun/Affect-verb
  • Dessert-what you eat/Desert-where there’s sand
  • Edition-one of a series/Addition-the result of increasing amount or quantity
  • Setup-noun, “The whole thing was a setup, a scam!”/Set Up-verb, “Please set up those folding chairs.”
  • Backup-noun, “Do a full backup of the computer just in case.”/Back Up-verb, “Back up the computer just in case.”
  • Ad-advertisement/Add-addition
  • A lot-This is two words. Always.

This list could go on forever. Additions are imminent.

Self-Editing Tip #7: Organizing When Writing by Hand

12 Jul

Idea Organization when Writing by Hand—Last installment I promised all those writing by hand a tip for getting notes and comments more organized without a computer and Microsoft Word.

Remember rolodexes? Still have one lying around? Put it back to use by taking notes on the rolodex cards. Use the alphabetically ordered dividers as ways to separate your writing projects. Divide by title, by school course, business project, whatever suits your needs. The letter can refer to whatever key word that will help you remember where you put your notes. If this isn’t the kind of organization that works for you, put a white label sticker over the letter and write in your own heading. Keep the notes that correspond to each project in its own section.

It’s no problem if you don’t have a rolodex or can’t find anywhere that sells the refills anymore. Get generic note cards. Make a point to keep your notes only on note cards. Get one of those latching boxes made specifically for the note cards and the dividers meant to accompany them. Labeling follows same process as above. With either method, all of your notes for all of your projects are in one container, organized by subject or title.

Still looking for a solution?

  • Get color-coded. If you like sticky notes, use a different color for each project.
  • Highlight with a color code in books read for research and reference purposes. Maybe green means a good resource to keep at hand, orange means quotable material, and yellow signifies items worthy of a second look later.
  • Get a multi-subject spiral notebook. Dedicate each section to a separate project or an individual aspect of a project. It keeps your ideas together, eliminates the scraps of paper littering your desk, and is portable.
  • If portability isn’t a concern, mount a large cork board to the wall, use yarn, twine, or ribbon to section it off in segments, then use each portion to pin the notes in relevant groupings.

Have more ideas to add to this list? Is there something you do to organize that’s practical, original, and would help others? Tell me about it in the comments section!

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