I’ve known many copyeditors who fixate on that as a word that serves little purpose and can be deleted without much thought about the sentence that surrounds it. It is often optional, but that doesn’t mean it never provides clarity.
“I have nothing but contempt for anyone who can spell a word only one way,” is one of those great things Thomas Jefferson never said but we sure wish he did. We do tend to insist on single spellings, more so than we did during Jefferson’s time, except to allow for the American variations handed down by the reform-minded Noah Webster.
I changed another comprised of to composed of in an editing assignment yesterday, not because the word doesn’t have a well-established second meaning, but because it’s one of those things sticklers love to stickle.
Copyeditors know that the whole comprises the parts, that comprises means iscomposed of. Comprised of is considered poor usage. So is saying parts comprise the whole, which is a common usage that could cause confusion.
When I was very young, my sister and I observed May Day by making paper baskets filled with violets and dandelions or lilacs and apple blossoms. We would hang them on neighbors’ and relatives’ doors and then ring or knock and run away. It was delightful.
One of those shibboleths that make one part of the newspaper copyeditors’ club is that Champagne is capitalized, as it is named after the region in France, and that if it’s not from the Champagne region, it’s simply a sparkling wine.
I’m giving a presentation tomorrow in Columbus, and the setup contract includes a “standing podium.” I knew that meant we’ll be getting a lectern on which to put our notes as we speak, and not a small stage or a soap box to stand on.