Friday, November 30, 2007

our lives or our life

I remember being confused about why some people said, "We have a wonderful life together," while others said, "Our lives are ..." I understand it now but was reminded that I didn't at one point when someone said she was confused by why some say, "We have our whole lives ahead of us," and others, "We have our whole life ahead.." in the same context.

Our life - two or more individuals sharing one life together
Our lives - each individual having his/her own life

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Aloha mai!

Pat and I were discussing alternatives for the big project and she mentioned Brandy McDougall who's an editor of the 'Oiwi Journals.

I'm sure many of you have already heard of 'Oiwi, but just in case I'm bringing my volume three copy tomorrow. The journal is made up of poems, collages, stories, and drawings from Hawaiian artists. One of my favorite pieces is from 'Imaikalani Kanahele.

There are rainbows here in paradise
reflecting sunlight through drops of water
You know what, bra?
The same thing happen
when sunlight refracts through tears
you get salty rainbows, bra.

Waimanalo beach
cold winds
blow salty

Seen in print: dangling modifier

Having played with just about everyone imaginable in the state, including Uncle Bla Pahinui and Robi Kahakalau, the crowd on Friday is certain to be as diverse as the influences on Planas' music.

A nice sentence, but it's Chris Planas—not the crowd—who has played with the state's musicians.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Editing while at karaoke

Hey everyone hope you all had a good long weekend. While I was out singing karaoke with my friends last week I came across something that I wanted to show. Notice that in the warning sign it should read ripped instead of rip and charged instead of charge. Before I took this class I don't think this would have ever bothered me.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Hey everyone. I wanted to write a follow-up on one of my posts a couple of weeks ago. In that post I said that I noticed a ton of errors in autobiographies. This past weekend I figured I buy another one and read through it since we had a long weekend (yes it was another wrestling one.) Being the pessimist that I am I thought that this one would be the worst book in terms of editing. I was alarmed to find out that the book was very well written and had few errors. It's interesting to note that the author of the book didn't even graduate from high school. Hopefully the trend continues when I read more autobiographies and I don't have to read them with a red pencil in hand.

The Judgment of Dog

I love the Advertiser's Letters and Commentary section. It's like a bad grammar shooting gallery. Here's one from Tuesday:

“It's not about the judgment of Dog or Christian beliefs. It's about a man who puts himself in the public eye and calls himself a readjusted criminal and a role model for our kids. Talks the talk but falls very short of any of the above.”

In the first sentence, “the judgment of Dog” is kind of ambiguous. I'm not really sure whether the author is referring to Dog's sense of judgment or the people's opinions of Dog. I'm also at a loss why Christian beliefs are being judged, or whether they are being judged at all. The second sentence is okay, although putting “readjusted criminal” so close to “role model for our kids” seems somehow... contradictory? And the third sentence is missing its subject. Well, let's see what we can do about this!

“It's not about Christian beliefs or judging Dog; it's about a man in the public eye who calls himself a role model for our kids but falls very short of being one.”

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

More English in Advertisements

Sometimes advertisers like to break up words into short psuedo-sentences to be more "impactful." haha. So instead of an em dash or colon, Sony makes "On a Sony" a separate sentence in this ad.

And Times Supermarket got lunch. Also, I think we read this in an article that was passed out in class: "You've got mail" is actually incorrect. It should be "You have mail."

Could you give me an example please?

On its who-we-are page, a company called Lift lists its freelancers, who include "Writers, editors and clear language specialists." I'm curious to know who these specialists are and how they differ from writers and editors.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Top 10 Errors on the Web

I found this interesting site regarding the top 10 errors that we find on the World Wide Web.

When the Internet was created, I think those who put it together should have also required its posters to follow two simple rules:

1. Your site/posting can say whatever it wants to, as long as it makes sense.

2. Say what you like, but be sure your thoughts are well put together and your opinions are organized thoughts.


This One's a Keeper

While perusing the Grammar Girl website, I found this hilarious image post. I'm sure its original author is still unsure why he can't find a girlfriend. :P

Monday, November 12, 2007

alot or a lot?

'A lot' seems to be one of the most confusing expressions for younger students. While 'alot' is never right, 'a lot' should be avoided altogether. So why make up an expression that's not appropriate to use? I don't know. In any case, 'a lot' can render the sentence ambiguous; "It rain a lot in September." Does it mean that the volume of rain is high or that it rains often? To avoid the ambiguity, 'very much' or 'often' should be used.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Verb Sequence

Use of past tense and past perfect tense can be a little confusing. "I went out for dinner with friends at 7 but wasn't very hungry because I had already eaten a bowl of soup at 5." When two actions are being described with one completed in the past(simple) and the other completed before that past action, past perfect is used.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Problem with Passivity

Hey guys, the week before last, we had an in-class assignment to fix up some sentences. A few of them were in the passive voice, and it took me a while to recognize that this was actually what was wrong with them. I'm not sure if anyone else had that experience, but I figured I'd post this. I don't think there's anything grammatically wrong with the passive voice (this is probably why I tend to overlook it), but it is frowned upon and here's why. I didn't write this, by the way. It's a story one of my professors gave out to show the class why we should avoid the passive voice as much as possible. It has some sex and violence, but nothing shocking if you watch television these days.

A Very Passive Murder
by John Vorhaus

The room was walked into by a man by whom strong, handsome features were had. A woman was met by him. The bed was lain upon by her. Then the bed was lain upon by him. Clothing was removed from them both. Sex was had. Climax was achieved. Afterward, cigarettes were smoked by them. Suddenly, the door was opened by the husband of the woman by whom the bed was lain upon. A gun was held by him. Some screams were screamed and angry words exchanged. Jealousy was felt by the man by whom the gun was held. Firing of the gun was done by him. The flying of bullets took place. Impact was felt by bodies. The floor was hit by bodies. Remorse was then felt by the man by whom the gun was held. The gun was turned upon himself.

I think we all let a passive sentence slip in here and there, which is fine; it's normal. But this story really sounds pretty silly, doesn't it? And this is why we avoid the passive voice whenever possible. =P

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

English in Advertisements

I came across this page that shows e-mails exchanged between a former English teacher and employees of Coca-Cola. The former English teacher was upset at Coca-Cola's use of the word "everyday" instead of "every day."

Further down in the e-mail exchange, use of the word "impactful" is debated. Brians' common english errors site has an entry about it here. I've heard people say that "impactful" is a legitimate word, but I personally cringe every time I hear it. I specifically remember a KGMB ad that used it, and it really bothered me. :P What do you guys think about it?

There's also a minor reference in the comments to Strongbad's Rhythm 'n' Grammar (but they missed an apostrophe...). I don't know how many of you are Strongbad fans, but that "e-mail" is my favorite. ;)

I think spelling/grammar errors are particularly common in advertisements since the focus is on the product and not on spelling/grammar rules. But that's why they need editors! :D

And here's a random english error of the week pic:

Friday, November 2, 2007

She's Not AS Pregnant As Isobel

I found this tid bit of information and although it's very simple, it's also very effective and something that many writers may not have considered. This type of word usage can make a piece of writing very redundant so it's best to omit it.

The word "unique" means "one of a kind." There can only be one of that kind. This is an either/or situation; either something is unique or it isn't. It can't be more or less.

That means something can not be very unique or something can not be more unique than something else. It's like being pregnant; either you are or you are not; you can't be just a more or less pregnant than Isobel.

Woe Is Me

Hi guys, here's something weird that I don't have an answer for. A few weeks back, Judy posted about the phrase “It is I,” which sounds awkward but is actually grammatical. This is because nouns following the verb “to be” appear in the predicate nominative, meaning that whenever you see a noun after is/are/was/were/being/been, it will take the nominative (subjective) case. This doesn't matter most of the time, since English speakers don't have to deal with the declensions of nouns--except where pronouns are concerned.

I like to think of the various forms of “to be” as the grammatical equivalent of an equal sign. What appears on one side of it must also appear on the other. If we were to say, “My friend is Mitch,” for example, “my friend” is the subject, and appears in the nominative (subjective) case. But “Mitch” follows a form of the verb “to be,” and so is also nominative, even though it's part of the predicate (hence the term predicate nominative). So we could say that “My friend = Mitch,” and since they're equivalent (both noun phrases are nominative case), the opposite is also true: “Mitch = my friend” or “Mitch is my friend.” This is why we can say something like “He is my friend,” even though we started with “My friend is Mitch.” They're exactly the same sentence. It's also the reason why odd-sounding things like “My friend is he” or “It is I” are grammatical, even though they sound awkward. Since the noun phrases are equivalent in terms of case, you can flip them. And when you do, "I am it" sounds perfectly fine, right?

So why does “Woe is me” exist? Shouldn't it be “Woe am I”? I don't think you'd ever catch anyone saying, "Me is woe."


I was listening to the am radio station again on the way to work yesterday when Michael Savage, a talkshow host, said something that perked up my ears: "The best language is concise and clear." He was complaining about how so many of his listeners write ridiculously and unnecessarily long emails to him. Anyway, I thought about that statement and suddenly I realized how often redundant language is spoken; most of us say,"Can you repeat that again?" or "The reason why..." 'Repeat' already has the 'again' built into it just as 'why' is in 'reason'.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Italics or quotation marks?

Hey everyone! I ran into another problem while typing up data at work the other day; I didn’t know when it was appropriate to use italics or quotation marks with titles. According to this site, here are the rules:

1) Short works and parts of long works are usually in quotation marks (see site for some examples).
2) Long works and collections of short works are usually underlined or put in italics (see site for some examples).
3) Traditional religious works that are foundational to a religious group or culture are capitalized, but not italicized or underlined. For instance, note the Torah, the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Vedas [no italics or quotation marks].
4) Visual artwork, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, mixed media, and whatnot, is underlined or italicized, never put in quotation marks. Thus, Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Rodin’s The Thinker both get underlined or italicized.
5) The one exception to this policy is the title of your own student essay at the top of the first page. You do not need to underline your own title of put in quotation marks.

I hope this helps.

Autobiographical Error

Hey everyone hope you all had a fun Halloween. In my spare time I like to read sports autobiographies or stories that talk about sports. I've read four autobiographies about individuals in the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment.) What I noticed is that each autobiography had a ton of errors. Editing these works should have been done long before they were published. However I can't put the blame solely on wretling autobiographies because i've noticed more often than not that autobiographies do have more errors than other works that I read. I'm wondering if anyone else has run into this as well.


This ad popped up when I checked my Gmail account. The Born Again site needs copyeditor's!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Bad quotes

Okay, so I'm not at home right now, so I plan to either edit this one later for analysis or leave it up for grabs for anyone who needs something to write about. ;)

"Trips on cruise ships often appeal to the elderly, which was the case in one of the deaths," Ishikawa said.

Obviously, newswriters can't edit quotes, but if you were Ishikawa, what would you have wanted to say instead, retrospectively? haha.

I'm also pretty sure that this Sheehan guy would want to take back his "cancer issues" phrase here:

In addition, a 40-year-old woman who had "cancer issues" also died at sea while the ship was en route to Hawaii from San Diego, Sheehan said

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Let's Wait a While

I've often confused the difference between "awhile" and "a while" so I decided to do some research and here's what Brian's Common English Errors Website had to say about this:

When “awhile” is spelled as a single word, it is an adverb meaning “for a time."

So you would say:
"My Prince Charming was bored with me awhile."

But when “while” is the object of a prepositional phrase the “while” must be separated from the “a.”

Then you would say:
"Did you have Prince Charming's CD for a while or only after you broke up?"

The site also makes not that if the preposition “for” were lacking in this sentence, “awhile” could be used in this way:

"Did you have Prince Charming's CD awhile?"

No English errors here; just stupidity

I can't figure out if the Advertiser was just trying to be funny when they republished this AP article:
Hawaii ranked as top state to avoid collision with deer

Incidentally, we are also ranked as the top state to avoid snakebites, frostbite, and Seasonal Affective Disorder. Okay, I just made that up. :P But come on!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Bad Sentence III: The Editing

I pulled this from the Letters and Commentary section of Monday's Star Bulletin, and it's a mess. Frankenstein's monster was put together less randomly. There's nothing contextual here, by the way. These are the opening sentences of the letter. =(

“As a disabled person in a wheelchair with a converted van, has anyone given any thought to the value the Superferry can bring? If we wanted to travel to Maui or Kaua'i for business or vacation, we would have a very costly trip renting a travel wheelchair so that it can fit in a regular van. We are a family of six.”

The introductory phrase that starts off the first sentence is—you know, this one is so out there I'm not even sure it's a misplaced modifier. It actually feels like it's part of a completely separate sentence. Pronouns are a mess throughout. Oh, and the independent clause in the second sentence seems to imply that the author and his family are going on an expensive trip in order to rent a wheelchair. And I'm not sure why “it can fit in a regular van” is set up with a subordinating conjunction. I think the author meant it to be a restrictive clause modifying “travel wheelchair.” Also, does mentioning that his is a family of six add anything useful to the mix?

Well, let's see what we can do...
“Has anyone given thought to the benefits the Superferry could bring about? I am wheelchair-bound and own a van converted to accommodate my disability. If I wanted to travel to Maui or Kaua'i now, I would have to pay the added cost of renting a travel wheelchair that can fit in a regular van.”

English errors spotted in the wild

This week I thought I'd refer back to those photos I posted earlier of English blunders.

Picture #1: Las Palmas restaurant sign

"Mexican Cousine." I did a quick google search for "cousine," and nothing about food came up, so I'm ruling out the possibility of it being an alternate spelling or foreign spelling of "cuisine."

"Catering for all occasion's." "Occasions" here is plural and not possessive, so there shouldn't be an apostrophe.

Picture #2: Dorm shuttle sign

"If you would like to get off at the next stop ,please inform me the driver or stand up when approaching the stop that you would like to get off"

First of all, there are punctuation problems: the space and the first comma should be switched, and the "sentence" should end with a period. "Me, the driver" is an appositive, so I'm pretty sure it needs a comma.

Second of all, I think the meaning of the sentence gets lost somewhere along the way, particularly at the end. Here is my revised version:

"Please inform the driver or stand up when the shuttle is approaching the stop you would like to get off at."

Although I don't think it's usually a good idea to end a sentence with a preposition. But this site says you should only drop the preposition at the end of a sentence if the meaning isn't changed. And in this case, I think the "at" is very necessary, since "get off" can have an entirely different meaning. :o

I'm thinking that in order to avoid the awkward construction, it might be better to rephrase it like this:

"Please inform the driver or stand up when the shuttle is approaching your stop."

Suggestions? Ideas? Rotten Tomatoes? :D

Were you satisfied to your liking today?

I ate dinner at Curry House the other day, and after finishing my spicy shabu-shabu beef curry, I looked at their comment card. One of the questions on the card asked, “Were you satisfied to your liking today?” Right below the question were boxes that you could check off to indicate how satisfied you were with their service (not really, somewhat, very). After reading the question, I thought to myself, “Huh? Is that question grammatically correct?” The question bothered me for a couple of minutes because I knew it sounded awkward.

If I were to change the question, I would change it to ask “how” satisfied the customer was. If I asked how satisfied the customer was, then that question would better complement the responses next to the check boxes.

So without further ado, I believe that the Curry House should have asked, “How satisfied were you with our service today? Please check one of the boxes below.” To me, that question sounds better. I don’t know. What do you guys think?

Friday, October 19, 2007


Hey guys,

Looks like I'm the caboose this week! Sorry so late! Here's a sentence I found in the Honolulu Advertiser regarding yesterday's scrimmage after the boys had their "mock draft." I think maybe the author could have been more clear about his point. At any rate, here's the sentence:

"The deal was finalized a minute before the game's start, further evidence that practice isn't always essential."

I would probably break it up into two sentences and say:

"The deal was finalized a minute before the game's start. This quick decision making was further evidence that practice isn't always essential."

However, I'm still not sure what the author was trying to say?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Imperative Mood and You

I'm not sure whether this is common knowledge or not, but since it did get mentioned in class the other week, I figured I'd ramble about it for a bit.

The imperative mood is used for commands, for example, "Give me money!" Sentences like this used to irritate me to no end, because I could never figure out how the sentence was grammatical. There's no subject! Just a verb and some objects. None of my pre-high school teachers could ever explain why this worked the way it did, and I had more or less given up on it by ninth grade, having filed it alongside Nessie and Big Foot in the unsolvables drawer in my head.

But the answer is really, really simple. There is a subject! That subject is "you." The sentence we're really saying is, "You, give me money!" or "You, wash the car!" or "You, make Mitch shut up!" But as we're all so very lazy that we drop the "you," so that when we say something in the imperative mood, it's just implied.


Hey all
I just wanted to pose a question in regards to style. Can style be considered an error? Sometimes we excuse what seems to be wrong and consider it right because of the style in which it is written. Anyone have any ideas?


Recent errors in the newspaper

Here are some sentences I found that needed further editing.

From Hawaii school honoring Iraq war vet grad:

Not only did she rebound from her injuries, she started to speak out for wounded servicemen, for veterans, for people who can't afford proper healthcare.

I'm pretty sure that the last item in that series needs an "and," and I personally like to hear "not only" paired with "but also," but I'm not sure if that's always necessary. I also don't think all of those "for"s are necessary. My version of the edited sentence would be,

"Not only did she rebound from her injuries, but she also started to speak out for wounded servicemen, veterans, and people who can't afford proper healthcare."

I also don't know if "servicemen" is considered too gender-biased. Would it be more PC to say "servicepeople" or "military officers?"

From Hawaii Superferry bill shields state on liability:

The Lingle administration would impose operating conditions on the Superferry to — at a minimum — protect whales and other marine mammals, prevent the spread of invasive species, and preserve cultural and natural resources. The administration should also consider placing state agricultural inspectors and conservation enforcement officers on each ferry voyage.

It seems like the second sentence should be reworded. As it stands, it sounds to me like the writer is stating a personal opinion: "The administration should..." I also don't think that the inspectors and officers are being placed on a "ferry voyage," since the voyage isn't really a location, and I don't think they would actually be placed on the ferry, either. Here's my revised version of the second sentence.

"The administration may also require that state agriculture inspectors and conservation enforcement officers are placed at each docking area for all voyages."

These are just my versions, so please let me know if you catch something else that needs editing or if you have any other suggestions. :)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Capital or Lowercase?

While typing table column headings at my job the other day, I came across a problem. I had a difficult time figuring out whether the first letter of a word should be capitalized or left lowercase. I think we might go over this topic later on in the class, but I just wanted to share some helpful information on the capitalization of titles and headings. According to this site, these are some of the guidelines for traditional title capitalization standards:

• Capitalize all nouns, verbs (including is and other forms of to be), adverbs (including than and when), adjectives (including this and that), and pronouns (including its).
• Always capitalize the first and last words, regardless of their part of speech ("The Text to Look For").
• Capitalize prepositions that are part of a verb phrase ("Backing Up Your Disk").
• Do not capitalize articles (a, an, the) unless an article is the first word in the title.
• Do not capitalize coordinate conjunctions (and, but, for, nor, or).
• Do not capitalize prepositions of four or fewer letters.
• Do not capitalize to in an infinitive phrase ("How to Format Your Hard Disk").
• Capitalize the second word in compound words if it is a noun or proper adjective or the words have equal weight (Cross-Reference, Pre-Microsoft Software, Read/Write Access, Run-Time). Do not capitalize the second word if it is another part of speech or a participle modifying the first word (How-to, Take-off).
• In table column headings, capitalize only the first word of each column heading.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

This Week's Most Common Error

I listen to the radio a lot when I drive. One of the most common errors I picked this week was not only from radio talk shows but also TV prgrams in which news anchors get into semi-formal discussions on issues with each other: "If a person...they shouldn't...." Pronoun number agreement. I think this is what most people say. I did too because I didn't realize there was such a thing as number agreement in grammar but mostly because that's how everyone spoke. Besides, it's so much easier to pick out the mistakes in listening to others than in our own.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Exercise 5/test 2

I wanted to go over the answers to exercise 5 last Friday because they relate directly to test 2. (This is the handout that has the number 33 in the lower right-hand corner.) Because I missed my chance last week, I thought I'd post something today.

There are several kinds of errors in this exercise:


A few of you seem to have trouble distinguishing among the different kinds of errors. I've therefore listed them by sentence:

Sentence 1: spelling and typographical errors

Sentence 2:
grammatical and punctuation errors

Sentences 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8: grammatical errors (subject-verb, pronoun-antecedent, vague antecedent, dangling participles, shift in person, shift in verb tense)

Sentences 9, 10, 11, 12: punctuation errors

Sentence 13: grammatical error (faulty parallelism)

Sentences 14, 15, 16:
stylistic error (wordiness, redundancy)

Sentences 17, 18: grammatical error (smothered verbs, use of passive voice)

Sentence 19: stylistic error (lapse in diction, use of slang)

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Nancy's booboo

I was listening to the 990am poli channel talk show while I was driving to work on Monday. A news flash during the intermission of the show announced that Nancy Pelosi, the CA Congreewoman of the 8th district, stated this: "There have been 23 eminant attacks to American lives in the last year alone." I thought maybe I heard wrong. So I was more attentive when it was said in her own vice the second time. She definitely said eminant. Oops, Nancy!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Word choices on weekends

Hey everyone, we've been talking about word choice and wordiness a bit over the past few weeks so I decided to tell a little story about a night out with my friends and how word choice can start to some interesting conversations. My friends and I were playing darts and were a tad inebriated. Before throwing darts, my friend says, "ok so you put the onus on me huh?" Being a "word nerd" I understood what he was saying, the responsibility was on him to have a good dart round in order for us to win. However, my other friends didn't hear him properly and thought he said the word that it sounds similar to but has a totally different meaning (you guys know what word im talking about.) So they totally started to tease him and ask things like "why would you say that?" Being the only one who understood what he was trying to say I had to defend what he said and try to explain what he was really trying to say. However, my friends wanted no part of my explanation so I decided to strike up a conversation with my friend with words that my other friends wouldn't understand, using academic jargon. After doing this my other friends gave up trying to listen to what we were talking about a started to ignore us for the rest of the night. So the moral of the story is that wordiness and word choice doesn't just effect writing , it effects fun drinking nights with your buddies.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Another Sentence

Hi guys, here's a sentence that actually would've appeared as part of a Linguistics course description in next semester's catalog, except I caught it and fixed it up on the sly (shhh!). My eventual solution was to cut it entirely, but here it is:

"Of the other varieties, Caviteno (and perhaps Ternateno), spoken on Luzon south of Manila, in the areas of Cavite and Ternate, still have some life, although they are certainly endangered."

After I finished tripping over all commas, my first question was, “The other varieties of what?” Languages? Dialects? Jargons? It's not stated here, and I wasn't able to glean it by context from surrounding sentences. “Spoken on Luzon south of Manila” needs a comma in the middle of it, since I'm pretty sure that “south of Manila” is in apposition to “Luzon.” Also, the way the sentence is written, I think “have” and “they are” should really be “has” and “it is.” I'm pretty sure that “Ternateno,” being parenthetical, doesn't actually count as a compound subject; the subject is the singular “Caviteno,” as opposed to the plural “Caviteno and Ternateno.” I can't actually find a rule about parenthetical stuffs to back me up here, so if anyone knows, please post a comment!

If I had to rewrite it, it would look like this:

Of the other dialects, Caviteno and (perhaps) Ternateno—both spoken on Luzon, south of Manila, in Cavite and Ternate respectively—still have some life, although they are certainly endangered.

I tried to keep the changes minimal, but I hope it reads a bit more smoothly now.

Much vs. Many

I thought this topic might be interesting to bring up. I can’t speak for everyone else, but sometimes I find myself mixing up the word many with the word much. For example, I would say, “how much pounds do you weigh?” or “how much friends do you have?” Thanks to our copyediting class, my personal grammar is improving each week. After doing a search on the proper usage of these words online, I learned that much is used if a noun is singular and many is used if a noun is plural. So, it would have been more appropriate to have said, “how many pounds do you weigh?” and “how many friends do you have?”

Now how much (just kidding…many) of you knew about that? See you all in class on Friday!

Phrasal Verbs

Something that has been particularly confusing for me is figuring out which phrasal verbs are considered "separable" and which are considered "inseparable." I found this site (linked at the title of this post), which lists many common separable and inseparable phrasal verbs, but I think I still get confused about some of them. Is separating a separable phrasal verb considered bad for your writing style?

For instance, is it better to say

I need to pick up my parents from the airport.

rather than

I need to pick my parents up from the airport.?

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

I Like Running, Jumping, and Swimming.

Since this week we did an activity on parallelism, I found it most convenient that I discovered a sentence which needed some assistance in that very area. While reading online at, I came across an article in the Island Life section written by Mike Gordon entitled "I'm off to tackle The List." Here's the troubled sentence:

A normal weekend is rarely enough time to do anything but yard work, attend two or three soccer games and a practice, and then surf.

And here's my attempt to even things out:

On a normal weekend, there's rarely enough time to do yard work, attend soccer games (plus a practice), and surf.

I tried to make my revisions without changing the author's voice. Hope I made the grade! :)

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Importance of Punctuation

I meant to post this earlier, in companion with Memminger's Punctuation's red-letter day is on the way, but I couldn't find it until recently. It's something one of my teachers at KCC liked to show us before papers were due to impress the importance of good punctuation on us--not sure it worked, though. =P

Anyways, enjoy!

Dear John:
I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we're apart. I can be forever happy--will you let me be yours?

Dear John:
I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever. When we're apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?


My friend Michael, a teacher of grammar at Iolani, sent me this. (Click on the post title to go to the page.)

Friday, October 5, 2007

Reasons leading to Conclusion

My little sister graduated from high school in May, but she had been nagging me to buy her a brand new car for her grad gift since January. So when she approached me with this idea, I asked her if she were planning to work to contribute her share. She said no. Hm.. I asked her why she needed a car to which she replied, "I don't want to catch the bus to school." Laziness...How are you going to pay for your tuition? I asked. Dad is what she said.

She didn't give me a good enough answers to warrant me getting that car for her. I denied her request with an advice. I told her that had she first explained to me why she needed a car per good reason and impressed on me a flash of willingness to work to contribute to this car (sense of responsibility) before finally asking for it, I would probably have considered it much more. So she did it. To our parents. She got her car, but she still hasn't tried to get a job.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

"On-coming" errors

Hi, everyone. These sentences were taken from emails sent out to all UHM students.

This survey will help us better understand the engagement of students in activities on campus.

My version would be "This survey will give us a better understanding of the activities students are participating in on campus."

We value your opinions and look forward to your participation in the on-coming survey.

I think they meant "upcoming." "Oncoming," which shouldn't be hyphenated, makes me think the survey is going to hit me head-on at 25 MPH because I'm on the wrong side of the road. :P

Again, mahalo for being such good hosts to our guests over these past several days and for enabling this event to be a success for them, for our campus, and for our Islands.

"Enabling" sounds strange to me in this context, so I think I would say something like "...over these past several days and for making this event so successful for our campus..." I also don't think "Islands" should be capitalized, and to be honest, I don't really see how hosting Toyota at UH benefits Kauai, Maui, or the Big Island, so I would have just left that out altogether.

Ambiguous and Wordy

At the Honolulu Advertiser website, I read an article regarding the issues the Hawaii Superferry creates for Humpback whales in Honolulu. The title of the article was rather ambiguous to me:

"Hawaii Superferry risk to whales raised in 2005"

What was raised in 2005, the risk or the whales?

Anywho, as I continued with the article I found this sentence that seemed to suffer from "wordiness."

The policy provides an alternate winter route from Honolulu to Kahului that travels north of Moloka'i, instead of the usual route between Moloka'i and Maui within the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.

Taking a stab at revising it, I would probably simplify it as such:
During winter months, fairies will travel a longer route north of Moloka'i from Honolulu to Kahului so as to avoid the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National marine Sanctuary.

I would also move it to the introduction where the policy is first introduced.


Is "wordiness" considered a grammatical error?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

It's All Relative: Relative Pronouns

Okay, these have popped up in the blog before, but I don't think they were fully explained. We're all familiar with personal pronouns: I, me, my, he, she, it, etc. Relative pronouns are who, whom, whose, which, and that. They stand in for nouns or for noun phrases much in the same way that personal pronouns do, but there is one major difference. Take a look at this sentence, for example: “I ate a radioactive isotope, which turned me into the Hulk.”

What you're really saying is, “I ate a radioactive isotope. A radioactive isotope turned me into the Hulk.” However, the relative pronoun “which” is taking the place of that second, underlined “a radioactive isotope.” Relative pronouns, then, go a step beyond personal pronouns because they not only replace a noun phrase, but they relate (hence the term “relative pronoun”) two otherwise separate clauses.

The newly-dependent clause, “which turned me into the Hulk,” is what's called a relative clause. These come in two flavors: restrictive and nonrestrictive (or essential and nonessential). As such, they're governed by the same rules as all restrictive and nonrestrictive phrases in regards to the usage of commas, which you can check out in Jen's and Chan's posts on Sept. 27th.

Good luck with the test, guys!

Star Bulletin Article

Well it's seems that I've missed out on quite a lot since I've been sick. I hope I'm not too way behind. Anyway, I just read the article in the Star Bulletin that Pat sent out. Is it just me or did the author refer to Pat as 'he'?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Articles, determiners, and quantifiers

On this web page (click on the post title to go to it) is an excellent explanation of what are called articles, determiners, and quantifiers. It helps us understand, for example, why "the number of" and "a number of" take different verbs.

Found sentences

Here are a couple of faulty sentences I found recently.

From the Smithsonian catalog, a description of something called Rolling Old World Serving Cart: "Clad in a superb reproduction 16th century map, evocative of map prints and drawings in our Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, guests will delight in its unexpected second role as beverage trolley."

From the Art Institute of Chicago catalog, a description of a book called Piazza: Italy's Heart and Soul: "Gold metal winner of the 2007 Independent Publishers Book Awards, this impassioned brainchild of Joe Bauwens and Marybeth Flower examines the hub of the Italian cultural experience: the piazza."

In the first case, the "clad" clause is a dangling modifier—the writer obviously didn't mean to say that guests would be clad in a map—and its has no antecedent. In the second case, gold metal should be gold medal.

My guess is that the writer of the first sentence doesn't know his or her grammar. The error in the second sentence is a typographical mistake that wasn't caught in proofreading. In publishing, good proofreading is valued as much as good copyediting, and this sentence helps us see why.

Friday, September 28, 2007

It is I

Sorry for the late post!

I used to watch foreign films, some of which had English subtitles at the bottom of the screen. It was nearly 10 years ago, but I still remember this puzzling moment: The scene took place in the days of French Revolution. A warrior called out loudly to open the gate into the city. The gate keeper replied by asking for the warrior to identify himself. The warrior replied, "It is I, so-and-so." It is I...? Why? I thought it was, "It's me." I don't remember the title of the movie or anything else before or after that scene. Thinking that my French teacher must know grammar since she knowa French, I asked her why. SHe didn't know. My English teacher didn't know either!! Internet was just starting up then so it wasn't a readily available source yet. I started college the following year, and it was then that I finally solved the problem. Pronoun takes an object case after a verb but not when the verb is a to be verb. So it makes sense when we say, "This is she" on the phone. Mystery was solved!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Re: Inappropriate Comma Use...Perhaps?

Note: I'm posting this comment to Chan's post as a new entry because I'm apparently not an Edit Hawaii Team Member, only a Contributor. It hadn't stopped me from posting comments before, but now it says "Comments on this blog are restricted to team members." So I'm emailing Pat for an invite now... O:)

I *think* the sentence is fine with the commas*, but I'm not the resident expert here or anything, that's for sure. haha

I think your AP teacher was right in telling you that rule when it comes to "commas that enclose," according to my Scott, Foresman Handbook for Writers, 6th edition (That comma is there because it's written by two people, apparently. haha). Here are some examples:

Commas that mark nonessential (nonrestrictive) modifiers
Neil Armstrong, who was born in a small Ohio town, was the first human to walk on the moon.

Commas that enclose nonessential (nonrestrictive) appositives
George Washington, the first President of the United States, served two full terms.

But I think the sentence in the article is primarily using a comma to "link" (again, I'm referencing the SFHW) the two independent clauses.

[Jason] faced a lot of criticism, but ...[he] used it to his advantage.

I eliminated the "instead of dwelling in the negative" in the second part of that sentence because I think it uses a comma for a different purpose there.

The book calls the second usage "commas after introductory subordinate clauses," which can be signaled by words like although, if, when, because, as, after, before, since, unless, and while. I think you can also call that a dependent clause.

I like to think of it as needing a comma because the order of the parts in the sentence is reversed.

Jason used [criticism] to his advantage instead of dwelling in the negative.

turns into

Instead of dwelling in the negative, Jason used [criticism] to his advantage.

So I think the sentence in the article is using each of those commas in different ways — first linking, then introducing — so it ends up looking like "commas that enclose," where you would take out the portion of the sentence bracketed by the commas to see if it stands alone as a complete sentence.

But again, big asterisk here!

* I didn't take Modern English Grammar from someone who wanted to teach grammar, so I don't really know all the rules. :-\

Inappropriate Comma Use...Perhaps?

My mom recently brought home a small magazine entitled "Live It Up!" because the main cover featured a story on my boy J. Rivs. While reading the story I was somewhat impressed with their ability to keep to the facts. However, I did run into one sentence that confused me just a tad:

"He faced a lot of criticism, but instead of dwelling in the negative, Jason used it to his advantage."

The reason for my confusion was mainly due to the fact that I was unsure of the author's comma use. Is this an error? My high school AP English teacher told me that the easiest way to figure out if there should be a comma is to take out the portion of the sentence bracketed by the commas and read it again to see if it could stand alone:

"He faced a lot of criticism, Jason used it to his advantage."

Hah? That's not right. Perhaps I was ill-advised or perhaps, like we've recently learned, this is just a stylistic issue. I have to say that I would definitely have left the comma out.

Thoughts anyone?

Not Again

As an avid sports fan who reads the sports page on a daily basis I couldn't help but notice that columnust Ferd Lewis has written another piece which made me want to try and fix. I insist that i'm not picking on him. Just because I edited his work last week doesn't mean that I don't enjoy his articles. Since i've taken this class i've noticed that my attention to detail has hit an all-time high. Normally I would disregard the errors in the articles. However, now that I have been editing on a weekly basis it seems as if there is an imagnary red pencil in my hand at all times.

Lewis wrote about the idea of not having to pay for Univeristy of Hawaii road games. Having watched UH football for over ten years, I simply can't fathom having to shell out sixty bucks to watch Hawaii play some crappy team.

The sentence that I want to change reads, "That's both good news and an idea whose time has come for those who shoulder the brunt of underwriting Warriors football and, by extension, much of the 19-sport UH athletic program.

This is what I would write, "University of Hawaii sports enthusiasts can breathe a sigh of relief now that future road games could possibly make it to free televison."

I decided to change the sentence because upon first read I was like "huh?" I understand what he is trying to say but the use of underwriting may confuse those who don't understand the meaning. I just condensed everything to make it easier to read. I should stop picking on Lewis or maybe I should just stop reading the sports page.


The "blog" of "unnecessary" quotation marks

I was really amused by the pictures posted on the unnecessary quotation marks blog. I think this one is the worst example of not only unnecessary quotation marks but also of English usage. Although maybe they were using quotation marks here to be funny. But why is "respect" capitalized? And why is it "in respect for others"? I think I would have said, "As a courtesy to others..." I would add a comma after that, too. And the comments on the blog mention that "put the music down" could be a regionalism, but I've only heard it as "turn the music down." Even then, I'm not sure the meaning would be very clear for this purpose.

So I think my version would be "As a courtesy to others, please keep your music at a reasonable volume." But maybe that sounds kind of awkward, too. :P

I also have some pictures from my personal collection to share here and here. If anyone needs something to blog about, feel free to use those. ;)

And finally, here is another amusing link: The Grammar Whores LJ Community

Obviously aside from being amusing, these sites can teach you a lot about correct English usage.

Bad Sentence: The Sequel

I'm actually beginning to enjoy editing these sentences. Here's one I stumbled through last Thursday in The Honolulu Advertiser: “This constant misreporting works to confuse people trying to understand the scope of the homeless problem and effective and practical solutions—one of which the “homeless ship” is not.”

First of all, the misreporting doesn't work to do anything, and it requires a complementary infinitive to make sense—needless clutter. It would be more accurate (and more concise) to say that misreporting confuses people. Next, there are way too many “ands” here. We can eliminate one by getting rid of the word “effective” or the word “practical,” since either one is a precondition to the other. Finally, we come to my favorite part, the clause after the em-dash. Here's a simple test you can use to judge whether a sentence needs revision: if it sounds like something Yoda would say, rewrite it.

Normal English: subject, verb, object (he is a Jedi; the “homeless ship” is not one of [them])
Master Yoda: object, subject, verb (a Jedi, he is; one of which, the “homeless ship” is not)

So, with some rewriting, we've got a pair of sentences: "This constant misreporting confuses people who are trying to understand the scope of the homeless problem and practical solutions to it. The “homeless ship” is not such a solution."

One thing I'm not really sure of is whether there's a problem with "and" in the first sentence, and which two noun phrases it's joining: "people who...homeless problem" and "practical solutions to it," or "the scope of the homeless problem" and "practical solutions to it." Suggestions, anyone? =\

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Ethnic Group Identification

Last month, the Honolulu Advertiser published an article with the following headine: More whites, fewer Asians in Hawaii.

My boyfriend pointed out to me that although they used "Asian" to describe Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, etc., they used "white" to describe those of European descent. I think they should have used "Caucasian" instead of "white" to be more consistent and to be more politically correct.

The AP Stylebook (2005) had this to say about Nationalities and Races:

Capitalize the proper names of nationalities, peoples, races, tribes, etc.: Arab, Arabic, African, American, Caucasian, Cherokee, Chinese (both singular and plural), Eskimo (plural Eskimos), French Canadian, Gypsy (Gypsies), Japanese (singular and plural), Jew, Jewish, Latin, Negro (Negroes), Nordic, Sioux, Swede, etc.

Lowercase black (noun or adjective), white, red, mulatto, etc.

Further down in the article, there are several tables (like this one) that use "Black" to describe African Americans.

I also didn't understand why the first table (shown below) was included in the article, since it uses the same data from the last table, but excludes "Blacks," and "American Indian and Alaska Native alone."

Race is a difficult issue to deal with in printed media. It seems like the politically correct terms are always changing, and opinions about which terms are considered derrogatory vary from person to person.

Friday, September 21, 2007

which vs that

To continue the blog about the usage difference between who and that... which and that are different in usage as well. I don't think very many people are aware of the fact that there is a difference between them as most people speak and write them interchangeably. I did too until my Latin professor of 5 years finally kindly pointed out to me a few year ago! Which is used with nonessential clauses whereas that is used with essental ones; a clause is nonessential if it's not necessary to complete the meaning of itself while an essential clause is necessary. So if one were to use which, a comma is placed before it but not if that is used. Determing what is necessary and not can be a little confusing at first

Late night studying...

As I was studying for one of my other classes, I noticed a typo in the reading. I've noticed typos before and I would usually just brush it off. But this time I made a little editing mark to correct it. The word was spelled as premiss. I think I'm a little more aware of what I read, not just for the comprehension part but also for the mechanics.
Question: What is the correct spelling of that word?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Relative Pronouns

Hi everyone! I'm sorry for the late entry, Pat.

In this week’s assignment, I came across some problems with sentences that dealt with relative pronouns (who, which, that). According to Technical Editing (Fourth Edition), who refers to persons; which and that refers to things. For example, it would be preferable to say, “The people who came to the meeting brought tape recorders,” rather than “The people that came...”

See you all in class.

Suppose I Said...

The other day I was texting with a friend when she asked me what my plans were for the day. I began telling her that I needed to take my grandma to Sam's Club, but stopped when I wasn't sure whether or not I was "suppose" to take my grandma shopping or "supposed" to take my grandma shopping.

Somehow, neither seemed correct and thus this blog was born.

According to this website, it's a common error in the English language.

When it comes to suppose vs. supposed, Brian's Common Englihs Errors says: "Because the D and the T are blended into a single consonant when this phrase is pronounced, many writers are unaware that the D is even present and omit it in writing. You’re supposed to get this one right if you want to earn the respect of your readers."

Thus, I should have said: "I'm supposed to take my grandma to Sam's Club."

Needed a fix

While looking through Wednesdays sports page, I came across a sentence that I thought sounded a little strange. The article was written by sports columnist Ferd Lewis and talked about UH quarterback Colt Brennan risking a chance to win the Heisman in order for his team to succeed. The column was flowing quite well up to the one sentence that I thought could be edited.

The sentence reads, "A refreshing outlook to be sure and not your everyday sound bites in this day and age as headlines frequently remind us."

If I was writing the article I would've written it like this, "Brennan's insights provides a refreshing outlook unlike the daily sound bites that frequent the headlines.

I thought that Lewis used too many words in the sentence and could have tightened it up. Since he used everyday I think day and age should've been excluded. Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

An Attemped Fix

If seeking written permission to post grades by partial UH Number, student's who decline to have their grades posted must be provided with a reasonable means for receiving his/her grade.

I don't know whether this is the worst sentence of 2007 (Miss Teen South Carolina may have something to say about that), but it is pretty bad. That first, dependent clause looks like it's missing its entire subject. Who is seeking permission? We don't know, and the main clause doesn't tell us. I'm not even sure these clauses are related—where does the permission come from, the student or an unnamed source? I'm going to assume that the author meant instructors must seek permission from students.

Moving along, “UH Number” is vague, since UH utilizes many different kinds of numbers. Of course it's possible that the author could be referring to one very specific type, since “Number” has been capitalized to make it a proper noun, but I doubt it. We can probably assume that the author meant UH Student ID numbers. Moving along, “student's” is possessive for no good reason, and pronouns shift from being plural to singular because...I have no idea. Oh and also, where are the grades being posted to? I'm just going to leave this to context, but I think if this sentence was meant to stand on its own, this would be a valid question. So, let's see if we can fix this up!

Here's my attempt at fixing it: “Instructors seeking to post grades by partial student identification number must obtain written permission from their students and provide a reasonable means of distributing grades to those who decline.”

Re: Year's Worst Sentence?

I actually had to read over this sentence many times to even begin to understand its meaning. And even after I did that, I was still pretty confused, but this is what I came up with:

Students can give their instructors written consent to have their grades posted by partial UH number. Students who decline to have their grades posted must be given a reasonable means for receiving their grade.

If seeking written permission to post grades by partial UH Number, student's who decline to have their grades posted must be provided with a reasonable means for receiving his/her grade.

As the "sentence" was, I couldn't tell who was seeking permission and from whom that person was seeking it, so I defined the subject as students giving consent to their instructors. I chose "consent" because it seemed clearer to me than "permission" for some reason.

I also changed the pronoun for "students" from "his/her" to "their" since "students" is plural. And obviously the apostrophe in "students" is incorrect since it's plural and not possessive.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Year's Worst Sentence?

I came across this sentence in an official document from the university:

If seeking written permission to post grades by partial UH Number, student's who decline to have their grades posted must be provided with a reasonable means for receiving his/her grade.

If you are wondering what you might write about this week, please consider saying something about this sentence.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Blogging instructions

I thought I would post these instructions, which I originally e-mailed to everyone, as a reminder of what to do.

Please do the following:

1. post a question or comment by Wednesday so that I can reply before
class on Friday;

2. read everything posted by your classmates by the start of class.

I may bring these things up in class and include them in your tests, so
it's important to keep up. Here are examples of things you can post:

• Choose a sentence from the newspaper article that you thought was
especially bad. Analyze what's wrong with it and state how you would
edit it.

• Choose a term from your homework and give the definition you found in
a grammar book; then compose a sentence that illustrates the term. For
example, you might choose the term "misplaced modifier" and give this
sentence as an example of it: "Running for the bus, my shoelaces became

Be sure to contact me if you have any questions, and please remember
that your grade depends in part on your participation in the blog.

pet peeve

"Someone their their keys" This is quickly becoming a pet peeve 0f mine. I hear people say it to often!

Someone left is/her keys, it should be, since one'd never say, "I left their keys to mean my keys.

Pronoun Case (such as I versus me)

Hey, guys!

Do you ever find yourself wondering, "Is it Lisa and me or is it Lisa and I?"

I've always had a hard time with pronoun case, so I decided to look it up in my Bedford Handbook by Diana Hacker. These are a list of rules that help me remember which pronoun case to use:

  • Compound word groups

    • Mentally strip away the rest of the compound word group.

      • While diving for pearls, [Donald and] she found a treasure chest.

      • The most traumatic experience for [her father and] me was the accident.

  • Pronoun after is, are, was, or were

    • Remember to use the subjective-case pronouns I, he, she, we, and they, after the linking verbs is, are, was, and were.

      • The panel was shocked to learn that the undercover agent was she.

  • Appositives

    • Mentally strip away the word group that the appositive renames.

      • [The chief strategists], Dr. Brown and I, could not agree on a plan.

      • The company could afford to send only [one of two workers], Dr. Davis or me.

  • Pronoun after than or as

    • Mentally complete the sentence.

      • The supervisor claimed that she was more experienced than I [was].

      • Gloria admitted that she liked Greg’s brother better than [she liked] him.

  • We or us before a noun

    • Mentally delete the noun

      • We [women] really have come a long way.

      • Sadly, discrimination against us [women] occurs in most cultures.

  • Pronoun before or after an infinitive

    • Remember that both subjects and objects of infinitives take the objective case.

      • Ms. Wilson asked John and me to drive the senator and her to the airport.

  • Pronoun or noun before a gerund

    • Remember to use the possessive case when a pronoun modifies a gerund.

      • There is only a small chance of his bleeding excessively during this procedure.

And here's a handy little table, too. :)

subjective caseobjective casepossessive case
he / she / ithim / her / ithis / her / its

In short, when you're confused about a sentence like,

"Geoffrey went with my family and ( me / I ) to Aloha Stadium."

you just take out the part that makes the subject complicated, which, in this case, is "my family and." So what you have left is

"Geoffrey went with ... me to Aloha Stadium."

You wouldn't say "Geoffrey went with I to Aloha Stadium" because it sounds funny. But sometimes when you throw in other things in the middle like, "my family and," it gets confusing and it makes it hard to choose the correct pronoun case.

Although this explanation only really covers the first rule, which is to mentally strip away the rest of the compound word group, the rest of the rules are demonstrated in the example sentences, so you guys can check those out. :) I think the first one though is the one that I found easiest to fix by just taking out the confusing parts.

Hope this helps you guys, too! :)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Affecting Effects

I was killing time online today, and no less than five people I chatted with mixed up the word “affect” with “effect,” or vice versa. Even some grammatically competent people I know have trouble with this one, so here are a few tips you can use, even if it's only to humiliate your friends. Both words have noun and verb forms, so that's not always a dead giveaway. But most of the time you hear them, “affect” will be used as a verb, while “effect” will be used as a noun.

Affect: as a verb, to affect something is to change it. Here's an example: “Britney's VMA performance affected my ability to watch the rest of the show.” As a noun, it's usually used in psychology.

Effect: in it's less common use as a verb, it means “to make [something] happen”. For example, “Americans were able to effect a change in tax laws.” As a noun, an effect is a result.

Remember: When you affect something, you have an effect on it.


Should we make the copyediting marks using a red pen/pencil ?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Test ?

So we need two copies of the test that have the editing marks on them?

Saturday, September 8, 2007


My friend Alan told me about this young woman's blog. I think you'll enjoy reading it; she's a good writer, and her observations are thoughtful and worth sharing. (Click on the post title to go to her blog.)

Friday, September 7, 2007

Creepy thought

"A little girl was looking for her doll playing under the swing."

I came across this sentence in one of Kaplan's SAT writing workbooks. I chuckled at first but then was reminded of the creepy girl doll in the movie Chucky's Bride. This was an error of misplaced modifier. By placing the present participial phrase after the doll, the writer inadvertantly implied that the doll was playing under the swing.

Tricky verbs

Here are a couple of tricky verbs that I came across. Both are very similar and are easily confused. Lie and lay. I found out that one is an intransitive verb (lie) and the other is transitive (lay).
Here's an example:
I lay on the beach for two hours yesterday.
It's a common mistake to say "I laid on the beach." Laid is the past tense form of the transitive verb lay, which means to beat or strike down with force. Using the word lay is the past tense form of lie. Lie in this context means to be or to stay at rest in a horizontal position.
Make sense? I had a little bit difficulty in understanding myself.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Ho brah, big da waves ah?

I'm not sure if this post will be valid but it's regarding an issue that some people may be wondering about. If you're local and are a product of the Hawaiian Islands, then chances are you speak "pidgin." But where does "pidgin" come from exactly? Well, this language is actually built from the Hawaiian language. The words, while English, are strung together using Hawaiian structure.


In Hawaiian you would say-

He nui ka i'a.
Translation: The fish is big.

Taking into consideration that

Nui= big

It's clear to see that the rough translation of this sentence is-

Big the fish.

Which in "pidgin" you would say-

Big da waves, little da fish, etc.

These words sound the same but...

Hey everyone. After last weeks spelling test I found out how truly grateful I am for spell check. Last week we learned about homonyms but my topic this week is on homophones which have always intrigued me. Taken from theWebster's New World English Grammar Handbook, "Hompohones are words that sound alike but have different meanings and different spellings." In the handbook there was a long list that showed multiple homophones. I won't write the whole list down but i'll give some examples.

Air: The elastic, mixture of gases that surrounds the earth.
Err: To be wrong or mistaken
Heir: A person who inherits or is legally entitled to inherit, through the natural action of the law, another's property or title upon the other's death.

So as you can see these are three similar sounding words but all three have different spelling and meanings. There are so many other words in the english language that are like this so it can get confusing at times.

Steve Jobs's Commencement Address

Please watch if you have time before class tomorrow (click on post title).

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Active or Passive?

After doing homework problem #18, I realized that I still have trouble distinguishing between active and passive voices. If anyone else felt the same way, I hope this passage will help. According to CliffsStudySolver™ English Grammar, voice is the form of a verb that indicates whether the subject is doing the action of the verb or receiving the action of the verb. In active voice, the subject does the action of the verb.

Subject + verb + object. = Doer of action + verb + receiver of action.

Yun caught the ball.

Karen fixed the problem.

In passive voice, the active subject and direct object change places, and the subject receives the action of the verb.

Subject + verb by object. = Receiver of action + verb by doer of action.

The ball was caught by Yun.

The problem was fixed by Karen.

Monday, September 3, 2007


Hey, guys! This is just a short little tip that I thought I'd share, so it's not really a full-fledged post.

I was just chatting with my friend on IM, and I was telling him that the Arizona green tea in the 1.24 Liter bottles is on sale at Safeway through Tuesday and that there is no limit on how many you can buy. I then told him that there are many pallets left at the Mililani location if he wants to buy tons like I did (I bought an entire box).

As I typed that, I thought, "How do you spell that, anyway? Is it pallettes? Palates?" So I did a google search for it and came upon one of my favorite sites, which is also listed under the References links on this Edit Hawaii blog: Brians' Common English Errors. According to Brians,

Your “palate” is the roof of your mouth, and by extension, your sense of taste. A “palette” is the flat board an artist mixes paint on (or by extension, a range of colors). A “pallet” is either a bed (now rare) or a flat platform onto which goods are loaded.

Has anyone else been feeling really paranoid / inadequate about their spelling, lately? Those quizzes were brutal. :P haha, man...

Thursday, August 30, 2007


An absolute adjective is an adjective with a meaning that is generally not capable of being intensified or compared, such as perfect, fatal, or square. I found this definition in Understanding English Grammar (the text for ENG 408).

"Which is more fatal, an ant bite or falling off a cliff?" That's wrong right?

So how about "Which is fatal, an ant bite or falling off a cliff?"

Honolulu Advertiser Article - Gwen Stefani Concert Feature

Last week I went to see Gwen Stefani's concert at the Blaisdell with my boyfriend. Afterwards, I looked up the write-up on the Advertiser's website. On the whole, the article wasn't badly written, I guess, although I think the writer/editor could certainly stand to trim a lot of the fat.

Take the headline, for instance, which is probably not the writer's doing, but anyway..."Dance pop mega-star Stefani thrills younger fans" ... Dance pop mega-star. It doesn't quite roll off the tongue, does it? I wasn't too crazy about the lede, either:

Add this to the list of things you don't see in Hawai'i everyday: A 37-year-old girl from Orange County, Calif., with dyed platinum blond hair leading a sold-out Blaisdell Arena crowd in the chant, "This (expletive) is bananas ... b-a-n-a-n-a-s!"

Sure, it paints a picture, but my first image is of Gwen Stefani tossing her hair around back and forth to lead a crowd in chant like an orchestra conductor, until I realize that the subject of the sentence is supposed to be the 37-year-old "girl" and not her hair. Although maybe I'm just being overly picky.

But the real zinger for me was the closing sentence, which I think should definitely be paid special attention, since it is a feature story and not a news story: "Until she returns to Hawai'i with No Doubt — writer crosses his fingers here — this would have to do."

First of all, the verb tense is not consistent. Until she returns, this will have to do. Second of all, since the "writer" consistently uses "I" throughout the article, why suddenly switch to the third person? It makes it seem like he's got some kind of split personality disorder. And I don't even think I would keep the random interjection there in the first place. It only tells me, the reader, that this writer seems to be a Stefani fanboy, although he spends the majority of the second half of the article criticizing aspects of her performance.

And why does he use the word "culled" twice in the article? Did his friend give him a 365 SAT Words page-a-day calendar for Christmas or something?

Anyway, so those are the things that particularly bothered me in this article.

Oh, and this is entirely unrelated, but why the heck do the articles in Advertiser's website always have random title tags that don't match the article? They seem to change from day to day, too, so that when you bookmark them, you get one random title as the default bookmark name, and then when you access the URL later, it's a completely different, yet still incorrect, title. For instance, when I bookmarked this article, the title tag (seen at the top of your browser window) was, "Bill would violate Constitution, create dangerous division", and now it says, "Okinawan culture taking center stage" (don't you love the random capitalization, too?). My guess is that by the time you guys click on the article, it'll be an entirely different title.

Man I wish they'd hire me for their web team. ;)

ETA: I only realized now that in the lede where it says, "Add this to the list of things you don't see in Hawai'i everyday...", it says everyday and not every *space* day. I guess it was a crash and burn from the beginning, huh? Haha, I'm only kidding. But that is another error. :P

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A good start!

Mitchell, Don, and Ryan have gotten us off to a good, strong start. I'm going to print out their posts so that we can talk about them in class. Thank you, guys :)

Fighting Fires and Bad Grammar

Hello, everyone. This is a quote from a short editorial in Tuesday's Advertiser titled Many helped in effort to fight Wailua fire: “This dynamic fire evolved daily, and was fueled by dry and windy conditions, which created havoc and dangerous conditions for firefighters and threatened nearby homes. In the end, residential areas were protected, the fire was contained and injuries were minimized.” I see a number of problems here, beginning with the adjective “dynamic”. Does anyone really think of a wildfire as being static? Probably not, so there's no need to remind us that it isn't. Havoc is similarly inherent to wildfires, and--in my opinion--the term is a bit too general to warrant being used in an article without some further description or quantification (e.g. “the fire caused such havoc that even Godzilla was trampled while trying to escape”). To finish the first sentence off, there are four “ands” in the sentence, and the word “conditions” occurs twice in rapid succession. Thankfully the second sentence is a lot better, but I'd still switch around the order of the clauses to give them a more logical sense of progression. My shot at rewriting it looks like this: “This fire, fueled by dry and windy conditions, grew stronger daily until it threatened the safety of both firefighters and nearby homes. In the end, the fire was contained, residential areas were protected and injuries were minimized.” If you haven't fallen asleep yet, then thanks for reading and I'll see you on Friday.

Misplaced Modifiers

According to CliffsStudySolver™ English Grammar, misplaced modifiers are words or phrases that when read in the context of a sentence lend confusion, not clarity, to the meaning. Here is an example:

Incorrect: Having entered the theatre, the smell of popcorn overwhelmed us.

(The smell of popcorn entered the theatre?)

Correct: As we entered the theatre, the smell of popcorn overwhelmed us.

First Blog

Hey everyone hope you all are having a good week so far. So this will be my first installment for the required weekly blogs. I would like to comment on the newspaper article that we looked at in class last Friday which is entitled Procrastination nation. While reading the article I was quite alarmed that it was actually printed in the Star-Bulletin. Not so much for the content, but I was flabbergasted to see the incredible amount of errors that consumed the short article. I understood the gist of the article and what Sakoda was trying to get across. However, the grammatical aspect and the lack of editing made the article a hard read for myself. As writers we can't say that we're absolutely perfect when it comes to our own writing. I've accepted that fact because of the insane amount of editing that i've had to do to my papers over the years. I'd like to focus on a paragraph towards the end of the articles which reads, "Our neighbor lost her spouse, I will bring over dinner for them to enjoy and spend some time with them. Under LDI, I see his child coming over for a visit once and awhile. Maybe they do not need the company." Since we are in an editing class I will try my best to try to fix this passage. I would write it like this, "Our neighbor has recently lost her spouse and I will try my best to ensure that her transition period will become smooth. Perhaps her child will stop by and visit her once and awhile. However, losing ones spouse is one of the hardest things in life to deal with and I will let her decide if she wants my company or not." I'm not sure if my edit sounds better or not but it's something that I would write if I was in his situation. Thanks for reading and i'll see you on Friday.

Monday, August 27, 2007


A friend sent me this link, saying, "By the way, if anyone in your class is interested in nibbling linguistics, I thought this article, 'Correct American Gatekeeping,' from the PBS show Do You Speak American? was easy to get into. It's another perspective on an already complicated issue." Click on the title of this post to be taken to the article.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Editor Wanted

From Honolulu Weekly's website:

This progressive weekly is well known and respected for its prize winning political, environmental and community reporting. Candidates should have a degree in journalism or related field, as well as extensive publication experience and strong editing skills. They should be familiar with AP style, have management experience and the desire to create a great newspaper. The timid or the thin-skinned need not apply. The Weekly is produced by a three person editorial staff and relies on heavily freelance writers. Thus, experience recruiting, grooming and retaining freelancers will come in handy. Job requirements: Keep to a budget, edit and assign (and write) stories, manage the staff and put out the paper of choice for Honolulu's opinion makers and scenesters. The rewards: decent pay, a dependable, loyal staff, and the satisfaction of creating an independent and unique newspaper for Honolulu. Send cover letter, resume and references to

Monday, August 13, 2007


Those interested in finding out more about the English 408 instructor can click on the title of this post.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Praise for Editors

My former student Sara, now working for a Hawai‘i magazine, told me about this piece by Gary Kamiya. It's worth reading by every student and practitioner of copyediting; just click on the title of this post to be taken there.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Spacing Out

I noticed that in most printed works there is only one space after a period and other closing punctuations. This is very confusing because when we type papers/manuscripts we are told to use two spaces. Why is there a discrepancy? How do I adjust the spacing between sentences from a manuscript to a layout without manually deleting each of the "extra" space?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Comma Chameleon

Here are the first few sentences of an article by writer Mike Todd in which he describes his epic struggles with the mighty comma. Click on the post title to see the rest of the piece.

Did you know that the correct punctuation differs between the phrases “my cousin Rachel” and “my wife Kara”? An astute reader recently pointed out that the phrase “my wife Kara,” which readers of this column (including, and sometimes limited to, my mom) might recognize as appearing in this space with the same frequency that severed limbs appear in Quentin Tarantino movies, really requires a comma between the words “wife” and “Kara.”

After several salvos in a grammatical battle that could only be described as epic (by me) or unbelievably dorky (by Kara), my defeat became impossible to ignore…

Friday, May 4, 2007

Amber Mui Fah Stierli Brings Hawaii’s Writers Back Home

This is the young woman I told you about. I think you'll find her story inspiring.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Ka Leo o Hawai‘i

The following was received from Jay Hartwell, advisor to Ka Leo of Hawai‘i.

This summer Ka Leo O Hawai‘i is going to become a full-color newspaper printed at The Honolulu Advertiser's facility in Kapolei.

The editors are recruiting students who show promise as copy editors. There are several advantages for working at Ka Leo.

First, we offer flexible morning or afternoon hours and a stipend.

Second, our stories need copy editing.

Third, the stories are usually short and easy to edit.

Fourth, copy editors get to see the results of their work the next day.

And fifth, developing copy editing skills at Ka Leo will help department graduates get jobs.

Ka Leo copy editors also may be eligible to earn internship credit from the Department of English. Details

Ka Leo is trying to get interested students to contact us as soon as possible before this summer, when our four-day a week newspaper becomes a summer weekly.

Medical Journals

I asked Gary Mawyer to comment on these words by Theodore Dalrymple. His response follows the quotation.

"A considerable proportion, if not an outright majority, of the medical profession is of conservative cast of mind: politically, that is, not technically. Perhaps a close and continuous acquaintance with human nature at its limits renders doctors, if not cynical exactly, at least circumspect about the prospects for human perfectibility. It is surprising, then, that the major medical journals these days, edited entirely by doctors, are riddled with—I almost said rotted by—political correctness. It isn't easy to define political correctness with precision, but it is easy to recognize when it is present. It acts on me as the sound, when I was a child, of a teacher's nail scraping down a blackboard because his piece of chalk was too short: it sends shivers down my spine. It is the attempt to reform thought by making certain things unsayable; it is also the conspicuous, not to say intimidating, display of virtue (conceived of as the public espousal of the 'correct,' which is to say 'progressive,' views) by means of a purified vocabulary and abstract humane sentiment. To contradict such sentiment, or not to use such vocabulary, is to put yourself outside the pale of civilized men (or should I say persons?)."—Theodore Dalrymple

I think medical sorts are indeed of a conservative cast of mind. However, this no longer translates politically. Republican damage to the industry started to swing even the better paid medicos over, about midway through Clinton's presidency. I don't know what standing I have to speak generally, but there are hardly any Republican or GOP-leaning individuals left among the people I work with around the country now. In the 1980s even the Democrats were Reagan-leaning (can we call them "no-taxation hopefuls"?). It still remains true, however, that the cast of mind is conservative, and I believe a certain realism about human nature and life in general does help feed this.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Imagining the Other

The following piece was sent to me by Steve Heller; I hope everyone in the class will read it.

The weekend of April 20–22 marked the second annual Weekend Residency for graduates of Antioch University L.A.'s MFA in Creative Writing Program, which I chair. After acknowledging this event was both a reunion and a celebration, I asked everyone in attendance to take note of the main reason why we had gathered. What happened in the writing workshops and seminars that weekend mattered, I claimed. What happened after the residency was over and we each returned to our homes and put pen to paper or tapped a keyboard in front of a shimmering computer screen also mattered. Then I took a few minutes to illustrate why.

The day after the Virginia Tech tragedy, I received an email from a senior reporter for the Chronicle of Higher Education who said he was working on a story about the shootings. He informed me that a one-act play written by the shooter, Seung Cho (identified elsewhere as Seung-Hui Cho or Cho Seung-Hui), had become public. He provided a link to the play, and invited me to read it and respond to a series of questions, including these:

Is the writing particularly disturbing?
Or is it the sort of thing you've read before from undergraduates?
What would you do if a student handed in a piece of work like this?

I followed the link and read a short play by Seung Cho called Richard McBeef. The play is about a breakfast-time confrontation between a 13-year-old boy and his stepfather, whom the boy accuses of murdering his biological father in order to have his way with the boy's mother. The mother is also present for part of the action. The play includes a great deal of yelling, cursing, wild accusations, unlikely behavior (including some off-stage sex and a brief incident with a chainsaw), plus a considerable amount of violence—including, if I read the ending correctly, the death of the boy. All in just over seven pages.

I did not read a word of the play to our MFA alumni, but I did share my response to the questions listed above.

Is the writing particularly disturbing?

For me, yes, but only in the way that boredom is particularly disturbing, the way writing that demands rather than deserves our attention is disturbing.

Have I received this sort of work before?

At the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Antioch L.A., never, thank god. The fact that we are an internationally competitive program with a rigorous application review process has probably prevented this, at least so far. However, for 22 years I taught undergraduates at a large university in the Great Plains, which, for many of those years was pretty much open to all graduates of any high school in the same state. On rare occasions I did in fact receive writing as violent and as badly written as this. And, truth be told, I received clumsy, violent writing from female as well as male students, though not as often.

What would I do if a student handed in a piece of work like this?

I doubt I could do anything that would prevent a deeply disturbed person from performing some horrific act, though of course if I feared this would happen I would try. But in my role as a teacher, the first thing I would do would be to talk with this person about the concept of aesthetic distance, specifically what literary critic Wayne Booth calls emotional distance—in particular the emotional distances between the author and the characters, the author and the action. What makes Richard McBeef disturbing is the same factor that makes it badly written: a complete lack of distance between the implied author (the person we assume the author is) and the emotions, particularly rage, felt by the characters. The script lacks the aesthetic distance that results from contemplation, from separating oneself and one's experience from the experience rendered on the page, from separating self from other, from imagining the other, from imagining how events appear to another person and are experienced by that same person—the aesthetic distance through which a writer perceives and thereby values the experience of others.

At Antioch there is no preferred way to write or think. And the writers who teach here have different views on the nature and definition of creative writing. But for me, creative writing is the opposite of self-expression. Creative writing is the expression of otherness, the relationship between self and other, the writer and the world, the writer and experience, the writer's view of things outside—and in interaction with—the self. Without imagining the other, the writer's craft and vision cannot grow.

What Seung Cho wrote was self-expression. What he did on that awful day at Virginia Tech, all of it, was self-expression, a failure of the imagination.

In the end, the writer's rage left the page and became a national tragedy. The events in Blacksburg have left almost everyone feeling vulnerable and helpless, as if nothing we say or do about the issue really matters. But this is not true. What happens in the classroom, in the home, and on the street does matter. What people say and what they write matters. Interaction with others—face-to-face and on the page—matters. The act of imagining others, and thereby understanding them better, doesn't merely express and engage—it staves off madness. It can save lives.

Monday, April 23, 2007

I, myself ...

I, myself, am always bothered by phrases like "I myself," "he himself," or "you yourself." I know that it is for effect, in which the emphasis is in the redundancy, but it just seems so--redundant! Also, what part of speech is the "x-self"? It is a non-restrictive clause? Or an appositive? Which would mean that there should be commas in either case but I've seen it without commas.

Paper and Ink

We learned in class that it is much more accurate to edit on paper than to edit on screen. When I check my own writing, however, I often find myself hesitating to print out a document just for proofreading. I’m always tempted to do my proofreading on screen to save paper and ink. I just hate finding one misspell on a page and having to reprint the whole page; I cannot help but be self-conscious about wasting paper and ink for careless mistakes.

Is it absolutely necessary to print out a document for accurate proofreading? Is it possible to master the art of screen proofreading to eliminate or minimize the need for proofreading on paper, thereby saving the office supplies? Is it ever possible to print out a flawless document through proofreading on screen alone?