Most people use phrases like "verbal agreement," "oral exam," and "verbal abuse" without really stopping to consider what they mean. As copy editors, we don't have that luxury.
Sometimes, as these examples show, oral and verbal are used as synonyms. But should they be?
Purists (aka Grammar Nazis, errorists, grammaticasters) will tell you that verbal refers only to being composed of words (or, for linguists, of verbs) and can never be used simply to mean "spoken." If you mean "spoken," they'll tell you, use oral.
The word then is a common and useful word for connecting ideas in a sentence. Unfortunately, problems can arise from not understanding exactly what role — or what part of speech — then plays in a given situation. There are four options for then, though some writers try to shoehorn it into a fifth option.
Instructor: Katharine O’Moore-Klopf. In this class, students will receive an overview of working with ESL authors: building trust, clearly communicating and querying, understanding cultural writing tics and styles, dealing with patchwriting and plagiarism, and more.
Let me begin this discussion about honing in and homing in by stating outright that I stand by homing in. If I'm your editor and you write hone in, I will change it to home in every time.
To most of you, this isn't a sensational statement. Hone in is just wrong, and changing it to home in is not only a prudent edit but a right one, in an absolute sense. Any wordmonger or verbal artiste worth her salt would follow the same path, right?
Professional writers develop a thick skin; they learn not to take suggestions or criticisms as attacks on their self-worth. Eventually, the pro might even come to see a gentle query style as pandering, prodding the editor to “get to the point.” But that skin is slow to grow. Along the way, writers are helped by gently worded queries.
The Associated Press Stylebook has added to its burgeoning entry on global warming (now 261 words), counseling against the use of skeptics and deniers when talking about those who don’t think global warming is such a big deal or say that we can’t really do much about it.
The way we torture ourselves with lay and lie is one of the great puzzles of the English language. We use different versions of the word depending on tense and whether there is an object we’re acting upon.
It was last month that the lamentations began: “I can’t believe summer is almost over.” Now that it is September and 84 degrees in central Ohio, many look to Labor Day weekend as the last hurrah of summer.
That has more to do with the school schedule than climate. For astronomers, summer stretches between the equinoxes, vernal and autumnal. For those in the northern hemisphere, which includes central Ohio, that means we don’t need to stop calling it summer until Sept. 23, at 8:20 a.m. to be specific.
Moneys and monies are plural forms of the word money, which already acts as a plural itself. The -ys or -ies spelling depends on your stylebook or your personal preference, but it isn’t common that you need to use either. Usually, money is all you need.