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!