12 Gifts for Writers ebook (PDF, 4.2 MB)
- You’ve outgrown your high school grammar rules.
- You can’t cast someone else’s spell.
- Seek qualified advice.
- Don’t write from the heart. Write FOR the heart.
- Professional writing is a group activity.
- Good structure is made of desire.
- Read bad writing.
- Write whatever you want. Also write whatever you have to.
- You’re probably wrong about how good your writing is.
- Do your own damn research, and do your own damn writing.
- Everyone’s a writer.
- You already have a voice.
100% of these usages is wrong
conjugation, English grammar, grammar, numbers, percent, percentages, quantifiers, quantities, verbs
About the serial comma (video)
clarity, grammar, Oxford comma, punctuation, serial comma, style, video
About this sentence that you’re reading
Active Voice, clauses, English grammar, grammar, nonrestrictive clauses, nonrestrictive modifiers, restrictive clauses, restrictive modifiers, restrictive which, that, which
Advice to a beginning editor
advice, books, editing, editors, guides, manuals, style, style guides
aesthetic philosophy, Alex Colville, art, art criticism, Art Gallery of Ontario, captions, curation, curator notes, painting, photography, placards
Among other things, it’s a sentence adverb
among other things, dangler, grammar
And can it be?
and, because, but, conjunctions, English syntax, grammar, sentences, syntax
Apparently ignorance is in vogue at Slate
credit, editing, editors
An Appreciation of English: A language in motion
class, English history, English language history, English vowels, great vowel shift, language change, language deterioration, lexical change, long vowels, morphological change, morphology, Old English, phonetic profiling, proper English, reanalysis, Robert Lowth, semantic change, semantics, short vowels, sociolinguistics, sound change, standard English, syntactic change, syntax, word change
Are Latin words bad?
English, English words, Latin, Latin words, loan words
Are this kind of sentences wrong?
English grammar, English syntax, syntax, these kind, this kind
Are this sentence’s needs being met?
conjugation, English grammar, English syntax, syntax, verbs
Are you a fan of its?
a fan of her, a fan of hers, a fan of him, a fan of his, English grammar, English morphology, English syntax, grammar, morphology, possession, possessive, association, syntax
Are you deranged?
to, writing, from…to, ranges, from, clichés, advertising, marketing, descriptions
Are you editor material?
Are you one of the only people bothered by this?
English grammar, one of the only
An article title, “An article title ‘An article title needs commas’ needs commas,” needs commas
appositives, commas, English grammar, nonrestrictive clauses, restrictive clauses, titles
Assimilation by the mutants
English morphology, English phonology, English plurals, i-mutation, irregular plurals, morphology, phonology, umlaut
At sixes and sevens about nine and 10
Canadian Press, CP style, editing, numbers, numerals, spelling out, style
Authority? What authority?
argument from authority, argumentum ab auctoritate, authority, fallacy, logic, logical fallacy
“Banks Bet Greece Defaults on Debt They Helped Hide”
ambiguity, English grammar, headlines, news headlines
Be an editorial Machiavelli
editing, good grammar, grammar, language rules, Machiavelli, pragmatism, rules.
because, conjunction, English grammar, grammar, language change, preposition
Be on the ball with the origins of phrases
balls, balls to the wall, brass monkey, etymology, have a ball, on the ball, phrase origins
Bighill Creek, the stream of consciousness
Bighill Creek, Cochrane, Coffee with Warren, life, memory, photographs, stream, water
Blarney, baloney, and etymology
Daniel Cassidy, English, etymology, How the Irish Invented Slang, Irish, slang
Books on linguistics for non-linguists
books, introduction, introductory, layperson, linguistics
Book sniffing note: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1964 edition
book sniffing note, Encyclopedia Britannica, grandma, grandmother, smell
Book sniffing note: Slanguage
book sniffing note, Slanguage
But is it art?
art, artistic, artwork, editing, Editors Canada, work of art
By Grand Central Station I sat down and wept
allusion, By Grand Central Station I sat down and wept, central, citation, Elizabeth Smart, exile, grand, metaphor, poetry, reference, river, sentence tasting, station
Calling them what they want
editing, language and linguistics and tagged gender-neutral pronouns, James Harbeck, Linguistics Frankly, political correctness, preferred pronoun, pronouns, them, they
Canada ≠ America
America, Americans, Canada, Canadians, North America
Can a metaphor be hyperbole too?
hyperbole, hyperbolic metaphor, metaphor
double prepositions, editing, prepositions, titles
Clichés and picturesque language
clichés, eggcorns, idioms, metaphors, The Spanner
Commas before quotes
commas, dialogue, English grammar, quotations, quoted material
Confident in or about?
confidence, confident, confident about, confident in
Contronyms: to sanction or to sanction?
auto-antonyms, cleave, contronyms, dust, impregnable, inflammable, leave, sanction, temper
A convincing – or persuasive – argument?
editing, language change, language rules, linguistics
The Correction of Josef Stalin
editing, Robert Service, Stalin
Counterfactual or not?
conditional, counterfactual, English grammar, subjunctive
A couple things to know
a couple, a couple of, couple
Currying favour with your readers
cooking, curry, editing, genres, good English, registers, writing
dash, dashes, em dash, en dash, The Week
A day in the life of an editor
a day in the life, editing, freelance, freelancing, in-house, life, managing, planning, working
Dear Kitty, Hi, Kitty, Love, Kitty
commas, correspondence, English grammar, letter writing, salutations, signatures
Digital enhancement for numbers (Go figures!)
ACES conference, AP style, Associated Press, James Harbeck, Linguistics Frankly, numbers, readability, speech sounds, style, style guides
Does verbing impact the language?
conversion, Editors Canada, English, grammar, verbing, words
Don’t die a critic of diacritics and special characters
accents, characters, diacritics, letters, special characters, typography
Don’t tell me no lies
double negatives, English grammar, English syntax, negative concord, Songs of Love and Grammar
Do you want to use a Germanic feature, or do you prefer using a Celtic one?
Celtic, Editors Canada, Editors’ Association of Canada, Germanic, gerund, grammar, infinitive, syntax, The Editors’ Weekly
E.g., this kind of thing, etc.
and so on, e.g., et cetera, etc., for example, for instance, i.e.
Each and every
each, English grammar, every, grammar, syntax
Each writer should remember this
Editor James Harbeck on titles and job descriptions before names
attributive nouns, modifiers, names, nonrestrictive modifiers, restrictive modifiers, titles
Email joke writers, please read this
email forwards, email jokes, forwards, humour, jokes
Etymology in dire straits
Between the Straits, dire straits, etymology, phrase origins, The Three Weeks
Eye rhymes and iRhymes
emoji, eye rhymes, iRhymes, rhymes
For a thousand years it’s good English, then it’s a comma splice?
adverbs, and then, but then, comma splice, conjunctions, English grammar, run-on sentences, then
For anyone who hadn’t noticed…
English grammar, English history, prescriptivism, proper English
Forget the title
articles, process, publications, title, titles, websites, writing
Fulford fulminates – pfui.
apostrophe, apostrophes, English grammar, English punctuation, National Punctuation Day, punctuation, Robert Fulford
Fun with find & replace: trailing punctuation
bold, commas, find-and-replace, formatting, italics, Microsoft Word, MS Word, periods, search and replace, wild cards
Going all the way with statistics
Going forward, it’s an adverb
adverbs, English grammar, English syntax, going forward, grammar, sentence adverbs, syntax
Go, vocatives! Go invocations!
cheering, cheers, imperatives, invocation, vocative
Grammar Girl is not where it’s at
English grammar, English syntax, Grammar Girl, prepositions, syntax, where it’s at
Grammar Matters book review
English grammar, English syntax, grammar, Grammar Matters, Jila Ghomeshi, syntax
A grave case of synonym-itis
elegant variation, journalism, sing, synonyms, variation, writing
The hardest language
culture, Editors Canada, Editors’ Association of Canada, English language, grammar, inflections, language learning, languages, Linguistics Frankly, pronunciation, The Editors’ Weekly
Help stop a word-lynching
etymology, picnic, racism
A Hidden Gender?
gender, grammar, language, pronouns, sex, they, video
An historic(al) usage trend: a historical usage trend (part 1)
a historic, a historical, an historic, an historical, historic, historical, indefinite article
An historic(al) usage trend: a historical usage trend (full version)
a historic, a historical, an historic, an historical, historic, historical, indefinite article
The Honourable Member for the 18th Century?
classism, grammar, ideology, Jacob Rees-Mogg, prescriptivism, style guides
How come it can’t be used?
combine together, concision, editing, English grammar, how come, why
How possessive should you be?
English grammar, genitive, of, possessive, prepositions
How to explain grammar
English grammar, English syntax, grammar, syntax
How to write gleefully
editing, genres, phonaesthemes, phonaesthetics, writing
American, British, English, hyphenation, spelling, syllables, word breaks
“I can do that!”
career, design, desktop publishing, editing, The Writers’ Community of Durham Region, work, writing
I’d say that if you want to, you can write it this way
appositives, commas, parentheticals, subordinate clauses, that
If I were using the subjunctive…
English, grammar, If I were, subjunctive, syntax
“I’m just saying…”
conversation, I’m just sayin’, I’m just saying, Just sayin’, pragmatics
I must disagree with whoever wrote that
editing, English grammar, grammar, relative pronouns, syntax, who, whoever, whom, whomever
In case you’re wondering, it’s a callow mistake
English grammar, English syntax, grammar, sentence adverbials, sentence adverbs, syntax, xkcd
Index, icon, symbol: a tale of abduction
C.S. Peirce, icon, index, indexes, indexing, Peirce, semiotics, symbol
In praise of long titles
book titles, long titles, old book titles
nouns, verbs, verbum, words
An Introduction to Sclgnqi: Pronunciation Guide
invented languages, phonemics, phonetics, Sclgnqi
I only wanted to explain this
editing, English grammar, English syntax, grammar, only, syntax
Is it art? Well, how does it feel?
art, Bob Dylan, genre, literature, Nobel Prize
Is she more knowledgeable than him?
comparative, conjunctions, English grammar, English syntax, syntax, than he, than her, than him, than I, than me, than she, than them, than they, than us, than we
It is not I, it’s me
conjugation, English grammar, English syntax, first person singular nominative, it is I, it’s me, nouns, pronouns, syntax, verbs
Jack Lyon is right too
Just for reference
Chicago, citations, CMoS, editing, MLA, reference
Kicking ass and taking names is useful sometimes
compound subjects, conjugation, editing, English grammar, verbs
Laxity and language
academic writing, clarity, English grammar, formal English, grammar, language, laxity, linguistics, proper English
Let her who is without error…
grammar, he who is, him who is, let he who is without sin, let him who is without sin, syntax
Let’s be clear about something
ambiguity, clarity, Dalkey, editing, editors, Mima Simić, My Girlfriend
Licence to smear?
Broadcasting Act, Canada, ethics, falsehood, journalism, news truth, responsibility
The linguistic bodhisattva
advice, bodhisattva, Buddhism, editing, grammar, grammar advice, language, linguistics, Nirvana
A little Hellgoing sentence mechanical deconstruction
convoluted sentences, English grammar, English syntax, grammar, Hellgoing, Lynn Coady, relative clauses, speaking to, syntax, whoever, whomever
The long and short of English vowels
English vowels, long vowels, phonology, short vowels, vowels
The lord, the bishop, and the harlot: an etymological fallacy
bishop, correct English, etymological fallacy, etymology, good English, harlot, lord, m-w.com, Merriam-Webster, proper English
A macaronic feather in our cap
etymology, history, language, lexicon, macaroni, macaronic, macarons, vocabulary
The madder matter of t’s and d’s
English pronunciation, flap, phonemics, phones, phonetics, phonology, sounds, t, tap
Made-up rules are what get on my nerves
English grammar, grammar, relative pronouns, syntax, what
The majority of these second-guesses are wrong
collective nouns, collectives, majority are, majority is, quantifiers, remainder are, remainder is
arithmetic, math, number puzzles, numbers, numeracy
Mind your idioms
American English, British English, Canadian English, idioms, phrasal verbs
Miss Knirps (a story)
bowdlerization, Doobie Brothers, register, school teachers, Steely Dan
A more delectable dictionary
English words, etymology, morphemes, morphology, pseudomorphemes, The Week, words
More honoured in the breach or the observance?
accuracy, misquotation, quotations, quotes, Shakespeare
My veil of tears: an eggcorn poem
eggcorn poem, eggcorns, English, idioms, poems, poetry
capital letters, English punctuation, naked text, National Punctuation Day, punctuation, Songs of Love and Grammar
A naughty chemistry poem
chemistry, elements, humour, periodic table, poems, poetry, Songs of Love and Grammar, The elements of lust
A new way to be a complete loser
English grammar, English spelling, proper English, standard English, Twitter
None of it is true, and none of them are right
grammar, none are, none is, syntax
Nothing to chauffeur a classiomatic
background speech sample, categorical perception, classiomatic, Duran Duran, lyrics, mishearing, more than just colour and shape, more to this kind of camouflage, speech perception, The Chauffeur
Now or immediately?
The old “ye olde”
English spelling, orthography, ye, ye olde
Omitting periods? It’s about genres.
David Crystal, genre, periods, texting
On editing versus linguistics
editing, linguistics, prescriptivism
One fewer thing to fuss about
fewer, good English, good grammar, grammar, greater, less, more, rules
One of the best poem
English grammar, English syntax, grammar, one of the, one of the best, syntax
One of those questions that are often asked
English grammar, English syntax, grammar, one of those, syntax, who are, who is
One or two things about numbers
compound modifiers, English grammar, English syntax, number ranges, numbers, syntax
aughties, decades, naughties, new decade, noughties, oh-ohs, onesies, eighties
The ongoing demise of English
bad English, bad grammar, English, language change
On wine tasting and grammar
grammar, grammar grumblers, grammar Nazgûl, language professionals, wine, wine tasting, winemakers
Our changing language: When does wrong become right?
editing, Editors’ Association of Canada, English language, language change, syntax, words
Our strange language, or: How I learned to stop worrying and love language change
editing, history, language, language change, linguistics
Overwrought about overweight
bad grammar, emotional reactions to language, errors, grammar, noun conversions, overweight, prescriptivism
Peking, Beijing, whazzup?
Beijing, Chinese, Mandarin, Peking, Pinyin, pronunciation, transliteration, Wade-Giles, Yale
The performance of a text
books, Editors Canada, fonts, layout, performance, publishing, text, The Editors’ Weekly, type face, typeface.
Plough through enough dough to make you cough or hiccough
cough, dough, English history, English spelling, enough, hiccough, ough, plough, through
Poetic inversion in all of us command
all of us command, all they sons command, anastrophe, Canada, Canadian, grammar, national anthem, O Canada, poetic inversion, political correctness, syntax
Presenting the future
English grammar, English syntax, future tense, grammar, inflections, present tense, syntax, tense
dictionaries, dictionary, editing, not a word, words
The restrictive which
nonrestrictive clauses, nonrestrictive modifiers, relative clauses, restrictive clauses, restrictive modifiers, restrictive which, restrictive witch
The roots of disagreement
classical roots, Greek plurals, Latin plurals, loanwords, plurals, roots
editing, English grammar, rules
Sears and the cooperative principle
cooperative principle, pragmatics, principle of pertinence, sales, Sears
Season your fiction just right
fiction, grammar, Novelists Inc., phonaesthemes, writing
Semicolons are recess periods
colons, commas, English grammar, English punctuation, punctuation, semicolons, syntax
Sentence fragments? If you like.
editing, grammar, if, rules, syntax, then, whether
Seriously, what’s the problem with sentence adverbs?
English grammar, English syntax, grammar, hopefully, sentence adverbs, syntax
Sharpening and vowel shifts
contrast, edges, great vowel shift, perception, sharpening, speech perception, vowel shifts, vowels
Silly place name limericks
Bangkok, Báile Atha Cliath, Beijing, Bombay, Burma, Cirencester, Dublin, Godthab, Greenland, Ho Chi Minh City, Kalaallit Nunaat, Krung Thep, limericks, Mumbai, Myanmar, Nuuk, Peking, Rangoon, Saigon, Schuylkill, Worcester, Yangon
Singular or plural?
agreement, distributive, each, English grammar, English syntax, plural, singular, syntax
The size of the equipment
cameras, Donald Trump, equipment, photography, size
So it goes
Kurt Vonnegut, sentence tasting, Slaughterhouse-Five, So it goes
Some advice for a would-be author
advice, articles, authors, magazines, novice, pitching, querying, submission, submitting
Some travel shortcuts
coordination, humour, place names, poem
So why fund the arts, then?
arts funding, fine arts, politics
Special characters and diacritical marks
diacritical marks, diacritics, language, special characters, typography
Streamkeepers of the language
English words, etymology, language change, language purity, language rules, nitty-gritty, picnic, streamkeepers
Such cases as these
English grammar, English syntax, grammar, such as, syntax
Sure-fire opening lines
books, Editors Canada, opening lines, The Editors’ Weekly, Tinder
Tag-teaming without coordination
conjunctions, coordination, English grammar, English syntax
That old bad rule-seeking behaviour
adjectives, English grammar, grammar, rules, word order
There is to be no overthinking and no false agreement
editing, English grammar, false agreement, grammar, overthinking, syntax, there are, there is
There’s a couple things about this…
a couple, a couple of, agreements, collective nouns, collectives, English grammar, grammar, nouns, numbers, plurals, predicated, there are, there is, verbs
There’s no way to truly split an infinitive
grammar, infinitives, language, linguistics, split infinitive, usage, word choice, writing
This business of verbing
business English, business-speak, conversion, English words, nouns, verbing, verbs
This fragile earth, our island home
astronauts, Coffee with Warren, earth, flooding, island, landing, moon
This statement is false
Cretan paradox, Epimenidean paradox, liar’s paradox, logic, meaning, paradox, pragmatics, self-contradiction
365 words for drunk
drunk, drunken, synonyms
To be a preposition or not to be a preposition
infinitive, prepositions, to
To be, or not to be, that is the question
etymology, grammar, Hamlet, history, or not to be, performance, Richard Burbage, sentence tasting, stagecraft, that is the question, To be, To be or not to be, vocabulary, William Shakespeare
Tonnes of options
centimetre, idioms, inch, kilometre, metric conversion, mile, tonnes, tons
Topics, we front them
English grammar, English syntax, left dislocation, syntax, topic fronting
Two spaces and authority
authority, double spaces, English teachers, high school teachers, periods, punctuation, teachers, typography
Two weeks’ notice?
apostrophes, English grammar, English syntax, genitive, possessive, time measure
Unpacking the Grey Owl
commas, English grammar, English syntax, Grey Owl, syntax
grammar, poems, poetry, quotation marks, quotes, Songs of Love and Grammar
A variety of ways of using a variety
a variety, collective nouns, conjugation, English grammar, grammar
Walk away from this sentence
analysis, complex, editing, English, grammar, Inception, subordinate clauses, syntax
A walk on the wildcard side
find-and-replace, Microsoft Word, MS Word, wild cards, wildcards, word, Word wildcards
Watch out for the theta roles!
agent, beneficiary, editing, experiencer, goal, grammar, instrument, linguistics, location, NINK, passive voice, patient, recipient, source, stimulus, thematic roles, theme, theta roles, writing
Watch your endings, genii!
-ii, -us, Engl, I, Latin plurals, plural
Well Begun Is Nearly Done: Desktop publishing workflow at warp speed
change-alls, desktop publishing, find-and-replace, InDesign, layout, Microsoft Word, styles
What “Did You Know,” exactly, anyway?
Did You Know?, information, Shift Happens
What do we care about, really?
authoritarianism, authority, complaints, English, good English, good grammar, grammar
What flavour of English do you want?
business English, collocation, context-focused discourse, field of discourse, information-focused discourse, interactive discourse, mode of discourse, narrative-focused discourse, non-narrative-focused discourse, pragmatics, proper English, reflected meaning, register, slang, stance, style of discourse, syntax, technical English, tone, vocabulary
What’s including what?
English grammar, including
editing, English, English dialects, quiz, world English
What’s logical about English?
English, English grammar, grammar, linguistics, logic
What’s the reason to not do it?
split infinitive, split infinitives, splitting infinitives
What’s the referent?
danglers, editing, English grammar, grammar, referents, relative pronouns, syntax, which
What’s up with English spelling?
alphabet, English, English language history, English spelling, Old English, orthography, Roman alphabet, silent e, silent letters, spelling, spelling reform
What we pay with in word country
communication, economy, interaction, language, pragmatics, status, word tasting notes, words
What would result in you sounding better?
English grammar, English syntax, possessive, gerunds, participles
What would you need in order to know if this is right?
in order to, conditional, if, to, whether.
When an “error” isn’t
a historic, ain’t, alright, an historic, anyways, can, capitalization, conjunctions, decimate, descriptivism, double negatives, double superlatives, fewer, fun, hopefully, language change, lay, less, lie, like, may, more unique, prepositions, prescriptivism, sentence adverbs, sociolinguistics, split infinitives, standard English, till, verbing
When does the new decade begin?
1999, 2000, 2009, 2010, AD, decades, millennia, millennium, new decade, new millennium, years
When intransitives go transitive
accusative, ambitransitive, cognate object construction, English grammar, ergative, intransitive, preterite causative, self-transitive, transitive, unaccusative, unergative, verbs
When to Use Bad English
bad English, English grammar, grammar, video
Wherefore pleaseth archaic English?
archaic English, elevated English, King James Bible, poetic English, Shakespeare
Wherein I talk to Australians about accent shift
accent shift, accents, Anthony Funnell, Austrialian Broadcasting Corporation, English language, future tense, language change, speech, The Week, vowel shift
Where to link to?
editing, links, web design, websites
Whoever is the subject?
grammar, relative clauses, relative pronouns, syntax, who, whoever, whom
Whoever tells you to always avoid splitting infinitives is wrong
English grammar, split infinitive, splitting infinitives
A whole nother thing
a whole nother thing, eac, Editors Canada, false splitting, reanalysis, rebracketing, resplitting, The Editors’ Weekly
Whom do you believe?
English grammar, English syntax, syntax, when to use whom, who, whom
“Whom” is a foreign word
English grammar, whoever, whomever, who, whom, English syntax
Why? Because it’s a complete sentence.
complete sentences, conjunctions, English grammar, English syntax, incomplete sentences, sentences, syntax
English spelling, feti, fetii, fetus, fetuses, foeti, foetii, foetus, foetuses, Latin plurals, octopi, octopodes, octopus
Why it’s best to leave grammar advice to experts
English grammar, grammar, grammar advice, syntax, websites
Why not the Silicon Valley?
geographic names, place names, Silicon Valley, valleys
Why the second comma?
appositives, commas, English grammar, punctuation
Why use terms the reader might not be familiar with
clarity, imagery, metaphors, similes
Wines, the world, and so on
travel, Urban Adventures, wine, wine cellar, wine tasting
Words that glitter and splash
language, linguistics, onomatopoeia, phonaesthemes, sound symbolism
Words we love irrationally much
antepenultimate, betwixt, cattywampus, copacetic, crepuscular, defenestrate, defenestration, Editors Canada, facetiously, gobsmacked, moist, penultimate, persnickety, petrichor, plethora, pulchritude, serendipitous, serendipity, susurrus, Twitter, ululation, words, words we love
Writing “smart” versus smart writing
Douglas Biber, effectiveness, genre, genres, lexicon, styles, syntax, usage, writing
Yeet citationality: yippie-ki-yay!
Bugs Bunny, citationality, Editors Canada, Judith Butler, language, linguistics, yeet
You can have Danishes with your giant beaver, but maybe not croissants
Amy, Big Bang Theory, cheese Danish, counterfactuals, croissant, dams, Danishes, giant intelligent beaver, Leonard, Sheldon