Tag Archives: grammar

You Gonna Edit That?

Grammar Books -- April J. MooreWhen our son was little and we’d eat out, he often saved his French fries for last. The untouched fries would drive my husband bananas. You gonna eat those? He clung to the hope that our son would be too full to finish them once he finally got around to it. More often than not, our son, right before jetting off to the playground, would pass the few cold, remaining fries to his dad. All was right in the world again.

I’m the same way with editing. I like to organize and clean things up, so when it comes to editing, I bask in grammar glory that there are rules about such things. And yes, I know it comes off as annoying to some, but whether you like it or not, these editing shenanigans matter. They can make or break you as a successful writer.

I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t always adhere to these rules and I’ve made a lot of mistakes. Fortunately, those mistakes are fixable and over the years, I’ve learned a great deal. I love reading manuscripts and offering content and copy edits. When I catch plot mishaps and dangling modifiers in a piece of writing, all is right my world again.

There are computer nerds, science nerds, and there are word nerds. That’s me. So I’m thrilled to tell you that I’m now offering editing services. You thought my Grammar Nazi ways were obnoxious already . . .

You see, I just want to get paid for being obnoxious. But helpful and professional, too. Whether it’s a full or partial manuscript, or an essay, or short story, I want to help. Visit my editing services page to learn more about what I can do to help bring your writing project to the next level.

And, on a somewhat unrelated matter, here is the Northern Colorado Writers podcast where Kelly Baugh and I discuss our latest books, our creative influences, and a hot new genre we are very excited about.

American English vs. British English


There are many differences between the U.S. and our pals across the pond, one of which, being the use of language and grammar. Many British readers of The Guardian, a U.K.-based publication, have complained about the paper’s use of “ugly Americanisms,” mostly slang terms such as “mojo,” “dweeb,” and “double-dip.” (Thanks, Seinfeld.) One reader even said, “I am not anti-American, but I do not see why our language should be corrupted by sloppy writing.” Another called the American use of “authorities” as a “dreadfully ugly American import from the land without style.” Ouch. Sloppy writing? Without style? Those are fightin’ words! Once bickering over taxes and tea, we’re now going to duke it out (another so-called American grammatical atrocity) over commas and quotations. 

I’ll just focus on spelling and punctuation. Most of these we know. Admittedly, I’m guilty of consorting with the enemy on their spelling of “dialogue,” rather than the American English version of “dialog.” It’s just looks prettier, doesn’t it? Okay, okay, I’ve learnt my lesson. Or is it learned? Damn. Here’s a small sampling:
AE BE Spelling

The other big difference is, of course, the placement of quotation marks. Both sides argue that their version is correct, however, Ben Yagoda of Slate, calls the British way of placing commas and periods after the quotation marks, logical, surmising that the American version is more for aesthetics. He says,  “If you put a period or comma inside quotation marks, you are wrongly suggesting that the period or comma is part of the quoted material, and thus you have “changed” it.” Logical or not, it’s up for debate. Likely, whichever method you grew up with, is the most comfortable, or “right” way of doing it. 

What about your audience? Do you tailor your writing based on your readership? U.K. readers feel that The Guardian, their homegrown publication, should stick to British English. What about American journalists and authors? If you live and write in the U.S., can you get away with writing “grey” instead of “gray?” What about “there”, “their”, and “they’re”? Oh, I can’t stand looking at that! (You know where I stand on that issue.) 

One thing I will say, is I’m cheering for the British for omitting the apostrophe for dates (e.g., 1990s), which makes the most sense. It’s plural, not possessive. 

Because of the World Wide Web, these once distinct differences, are now melding together and clearly causing havoc. I think it pisses the Brits off more, whereas Americans seem lackadaisical about the whole thing, often interchanging them willy-nilly. My thought is that if you live and write in the U.S., stick with the American English rules, and vice versa. If anything, just pick one and use it consistently, and ideally, have a reason for your choice. I suspect that one day, there will be a meeting of the minds (whose minds is yet to be determined) and a definitive language style will result—a treaty will ensue. As for the style it’ll be written in . . . well, that’s another story.

What do you think? Keep both language styles separate? Or go to war?