Pesky grammar mistakes


Everyone has their own grammar secret; I have trouble with lie/laid/lay and I used to find apostrophes (with plurals that end in s) a nightmare. Don’t tell. This is my second grammar piece (the first on frequently confused words) and it offers more specific advice on prepositions and punctuation.

Many of my examples come from First up is the use of “absolutely” and the way it is now used instead of a simple “yes” or used to describe something more emphatically, e.g. it was absolutely outrageous. Their point, I think, is that the use of the word is so ubiquitous that it has ceased to mean anything at all. If you need help with commas or a quick revision of colons and exclamation marks, then this is for you. Or if you need help to unpick a couple of idioms, “in store for” and “in the works” read here. Further reading of common preposition mistakes can unpick “at that moment”, “accused of murder” etc.

Finally, this is a great selection of copywriting mistakes from Benjamin Dreyer (Copy Chief) at Random House. Not only does he go over everything that’s a bit tricky (enmity vs. emnity, when it’s okay to use every day vs. everyday) but it looks beautiful too.

All clear? Absolutely.

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Tech innovation for writers


Tech innovation offers us so much more than just a computer to write and store our stuff. There are tons of new apps and products available to writers. Some tech lets you write, distraction-free. You can buy the Freewrite, a computer masquerading as a typewriter, that’s portable, with an e-paper screen and downloads everything to the cloud (pictured*). Or download an app (freedom) that disables your computer from letting you do anything but type for as long as you tell it (to stop you eating up the hours, surfing the net or going on facebook).Continue Reading

“I feel impelled to tell you”; frequently confused words


On a recent family holiday, my sister totally confused us all. She was adamant that we’d been using the word compel wrongly and that we actually needed to use impel. I completely forgot about it until I just read it in an Enid Blyton book with my daughter, “he felt impelled to go and look at it” where she had used it in exactly the same way that I would have used compelled. Turns out, after a bit of research, that my big sister was right.Continue Reading