Common Errors Pt. 2

Ha! As if we didn't make enough mistakes, there's more on my list.

6. Its and It's: This is a special case of the use and non-use of the apostrophe. It's is ALWAYS a contraction for "It is." Its, when used as a possessive, NEVER has an apostrophe.

7. Punctuation marks like commas and periods fall INSIDE the quotation marks. The outside way is British. If you're subbing to American publishers, it's probably best to stay inside the quotes.

8. Virgules (doubletake here! Someone pull out Balderdash! Ahem, back to the list.) So, ah, virgules are used to indicate alternatives, as in "and/or." A usage like "secretary/treasurer" suggests this person is either a secretary or a treasure, but not both. "Secretary-Treasurer" is the correct form. Most every usage of virgule you see today is incorrect. Professional writers know the difference between correct usage and incorrect usage. (ouch mr. editor! *snort*) When I posted this I took my editor's word for it but because of the comments I decided to look it up. Now I'm not sure my cheat sheet is write. Hmmm. Just thought I'd let y'all know. :-)

And the postscript of my cheat sheet which my wonderfully sweet former editor gave to me is just too funny to not share. For your viewing pleasure only, his last words to naive, first-time freelancer Jessica Nelson.

"If you leave too many errors for him [mr. editor] to correct, he may just decide that you really don't know what you are doing, and really start doing some aggressive editing, figuring 1), your work probably needs it; and 2), you'll never know the difference."

*He really was a nice editor. I wasn't being sarcastic. Just so you know, since you can't hear my tone. :-)*


Good Morning, Jessica -

My, oh, my. I learned something new. Virgules??? Thank you for the clarification on usage. I'm sure I've made that mistake in the past.

I like these cheat sheets. It's a whole lot easier than wading through long explanations. I'd never be a technical writer because I want the bottom line.

Susan :)
The Virgules got me, too. Never heard of that word before and I'm totally using the "/" wrong. I always thought it meant "and or".

Thanks for sharing these!
Terri Tiffany said…
Loved your list--and yes I have my own plus a really good book that kathy Ide published about common errors. I always get annoyed when I see that comma on the outside!
Jennifer Shirk said…
Virgules. So THAT's what they're called. I had no idea. :)
Genny said…
You always have such great tips and info!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Kristen Painter said…
I had no idea about virgules either. It's so cool to learn something!
I like it too, Susan and Eileen! Succinct is usually better.
I almost paid Kathy Ide for a critique. She was super nice. I didn't realize she had a book out.
Okay, okay.
Virgules! I took my cheat sheat's word for it but since almost all of you were intrigued by that strange word, I looked it up and can't find anything definite.
So, there's a chance my cheat sheet is wrong.
Missy Tippens said…

I wanted to stop by and tell you how much I LOVED your blurbs you posted on the Seeker blog today!! Excellent. I want to read the books!!

Missy :)
haleigh said…
Nice cheat sheet! I have an easy "lay vs. lie" reference bookmarked on my computer, that half the time I just leave open while writing. I still can't get it right - imagine that!
Karen Hossink said…
I just learned about "a while" vs. "awhile." And the easiest way for me to remember the proper usage on these words is this: "awhile" implies the inclusion of the word "for." So insert "for" in your sentence and if it's redundant you need to use "a while."
I know I was messing up on this one for a while.
wow, lay vs lie is a good one. I'm not sure I know the difference on that one.
And I definitely didn't know about awhile. I'm always wondering the right way.
Thanks for the info guys!

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