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...