Archive: November, 2007

Perfection

Here’s a tricky question for you: Do you demand perfection? Of yourself? Of others?

It’s a hard one, isn’t it? Personally, I feel that I’m about one, short step away from being a perfectionist–I know that perfection is impossible to achieve, and yet my standards of behavior are quite high. I don’t expect every book I read to be perfectly copy-edited, but am frustrated if I find more than one or two errors. I don’t expect the house to be neat as a pin every minute of the day, but I can’t stand clutter piling up. I don’t expect my practically-perfect dog, Chappy, to walk at heel when we stroll around the neighborhood, but I expect him not to pull on his leash.

Chappy at HeelThen, I wonder if my standards are too high? Can I really expect Chappy not to get excited and pull on his leash when he sees one of his best friends? And the writing desk in my bedroom is rather more covered with stuff than I would like–yet the pile, while manageable, never entirely goes away. That’s okay, though, because, really, who wants to feel like they’re living in a museum? Or has a Stepford Dog? Robotic perfection simply isn’t human.

So, is it a good or a bad thing to expect people to live up to virtually-impossible ideals of behavior? To have perfect manners, to write thank you notes, to be dressed nicely at all times? To always signal before they turn at an intersection? To return library books on time, always repay their debts, donate time and money to worthy causes, all while being kind to children and small animals?

The truth is that nobody can meet Miss. Manners’ standards for every minute of every day. (No, not even I.) So why even try? Is it because we’re all just trying to get through our days, our lives as painlessly as possible? Is it a matter of respect for one another? Is it all just for the sake of appearances? Or is it something more?

Personally, I think it’s a little of all these things, but also something more–an attempt to be the best that we can be. Not necessarily the best in a given role–the best accountant, the best parent, the best chef–but the best self. I strive to be the best Deb I can be, with all my faults. I know that perfection isn’t attainable, but really, I owe it to myself to try.

MM: Comma, Comma, Comma Chameleon…

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Remember commas? Is it just me, or does there seem to be widespread confusion about when and where to use these handy little punctuation marks? Originally, they started out indicating where to take a breath when reading aloud, but now are used for so much more. Ultimately, though, they indicate a natural break in a sentence.

Use a comma to…

  • Separate independent clauses in a sentence when using a conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so). I don’t like turkey sandwiches, but she keeps making them for me.
  • Separate independent from dependent clauses. After I brushed the dog, I vacuumed the floor.
  • Separate the elements in a series of three or more items. For Christmas I want a doll, a dog, a diamond, and a dictionary.
    Note that there is an ongoing debate about whether you should use a comma before the final element in the series. Technically, you’re correct either way, but it’s generally considered better to use that final comma than not to use it.
  • Separate introductory word or phrases. Okay, we can go to the park.
  • Set off non-essential elements of a sentence (parenthetical comments). The color yellow, in my opinion, is ideal for a kitchen.
  • Separate two or more adjectives describing a noun. It was such a big, round, red ball.
  • Separate a quotation. The most famous soliloquy in Shakespeare’s Hamlet begins, “To be, or not to be.”

Now, this list is in no way a complete one, and I’m not going to try to tell you otherwise. I didn’t touch on using commas for dates or numbers, and there are nuances that I ignored in this attempt to give you some basic information in a digestible size that wouldn’t give you mental indigestion. You can find much more about commas here or here.

Aside From That…

If you’ve been coming here for a while, you will have noticed that I like asides. You know, those tangents off from the main sentence that are so very convenient when writing.

As a rule, though, they’re signs of lazy writing. Usually because the author neglected to take the time to structure his or her writing properly, neglecting what should have been a smooth, narrative flow with extra bits of information that aren’t necessarily pertinent to the subject at hand. Since my brain seems to flit hither and yon when I write, this happens a lot to me … besides, it’s more conversational that way, don’t you think?

See? This is exactly what happens: I’ll be writing along–minding my own business–when another thought or phrase comes barrelling out of nowhere and collides with my sentence. Maybe it’s my fault for not checking my mirrors more carefully, not plotting my route with enough attention to detail, but sometimes (who knows why), these things just happen.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice that I’ve sprinkled a number of these patented asides of mine throughout this post so far. Deliberately this time. Let’s examine the ways in which a writer can identify a parenthetical thought, shall we?

Parentheses.

  • This one should be obvious, since the very concept of a “parenthetical thought” is named for the punctuation. Parentheses (these curved lines that hug a phrase or thought) should be used to de-emphasize material that you’re including in the sentence, even though it may not truly belong there.
  • Note that, since parentheses reduce the emphasis, if the material you’re including is important, it warrants its own sentence.
  • Also note that (in U.S. usage, which is all I can speak to), if the parenthetical comment is part of another sentence, you never put a period inside the parentheses.
  • If, however, your parenthetical comment is a complete sentence standing on its own, the period should be inside the parentheses.
  • Naturally, if you open a parenthetical comment “(“, you must also close the parenthesis “)” because they always, always work as a team.

Dashes

  • Dashes are used to emphasize an aside, because it draws attention to the text, like a nice, straight arrow without a head.
  • In text, you should ideally use an em-dash, which is the length of an “M” space in typesetting. If that’s not an option–say, you’re typing a blog entry or using an old, manual typewriter–you should use two hyphens right next to each other. No spaces before, during, or after your cobbled-together “dash.”
  • Just like with the parentheses, dashes come in pairs–always–unless one leads directly to the end of a sentence.

Ellipsis

  • Those three little dots … you know, the ones you see everywhere.
  • These are used to show that text has been omitted from a quote, or after the quote. “Four score and seven years ago … will not perish from the earth.”
  • It can also be used to show a change of thought or pause in dialogue. “Gee … I guess you’re right!”
  • Ellipses should be typed as three dots together, but with a space before and after. (Actually, older style guides sometimes suggest spaces in between each dot (“. . .”) but in this age of internet, webpage and word-wrap, this is no longer ideal, because the writer can no longer keep those dots together if they have spaces between them. Everyone’s computer screen is a different width!
  • If they are indicating that there is text omitted after a sentence in a quote, finish the sentence with a period, but then add the ellipses. So, in other words, four dots.
  • If you’re typing dialogue and someone’s thought trails off, you can just use the three dots and leave it at that, I suppose …

Comma

  • To a lesser degree, commas can also be used for an on-the-side descriptor. “Marge, his fifth daughter, always gave him trouble.”

Not Quite So Holy

This has always been a word that intrigued me. Its root comes from “Holy Day,” of course, but it’s come to mean so much more. It’s used for a day off work or for a religious holy day. The Brits (“We’re going on holiday to the Brighton”) use it the same way we Americans use vacation (“We’re going on vacation to Martha’s Vineyard.)

And yet, it doesn’t so much have the “holy” connotation any more, does it? Even the very-religious holidays like Easter. Mostly, holidays these days seem to be a reason to gather family and friends, possibly exchange gifts or greeting cards, but without so much a “religious” emphasis, even for the ones that are fundamentally religious in nature.

And then there are days like, say, Thanksgiving which we’re celebrating here in the US today–a day for family, a day to be generally thankful, and a day to eat lots and lots of turkey and the essential trimmings (not to mention pie). No religious connotations whatsoever … except, when you get down to it, while going to church or temple or mosque and communing with God is a spiritually-important thing, in this day and age, isn’t it also important to commune with your family and loved ones? It may not be “holy,” exactly, but we live in a busy, hectic age, and to me, family will always be the most important focus, and having a day dedicated to spending it with them in thanks and good fellowship?

Perfect. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone–wherever you are!

hol·i·day

O.E. haligdæg, from halig “holy” + dæg “day;” in 14c. meaning both “religious festival” and “day of recreation,” but pronunciation and sense diverged 16c.

–noun

  1. a day fixed by law or custom on which ordinary business is suspended in commemoration of some event or in honor of some person.
  2. any day of exemption from work (distinguished from working day)
  3. a time or period of exemption from any requirement, duty, assessment, etc.: New businesses may be granted a one-year tax holiday.
  4. a religious feast day; holy day, esp. any of several usually commemorative holy days observed in Judaism.
  5. sometimes, holidays. Chiefly British. a period of cessation from work or one of recreation; vacation.
  6. an unintentional gap left on a plated, coated, or painted surface.

–adjective

  1. of or pertaining to a festival; festive; joyous: a holiday mood.
  2. suitable for a holiday: holiday attire.

–verb (used without object)

  1. Chiefly British. to vacation: to holiday at the seaside.

Also, coincidentally, Joanna was asking about “holiday” just the other day. What does holiday mean to you?

MM: Labor Pains

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Ouch! There go those contractions again!

We’ve covered it’s and its. We’ve covered there/their/they’re. We’ve even talked about the uses of the apostrophe. But still, everywhere I go on the internet, contractions are being misused and causing pain to those of us who know better. (I swear, you’d think that nobody read this blog at all. Humph.)

Here’s the pertinent point about contractions: They are made up of two or more words–usually a noun and a verb–combined with the aid of an apostrophe which replaces one or more of the characters of the original words. Words like “waterfall,” “loggerhead” and “earring” are NOT contractions, since their foundation words are spelled out. You can also have contractions in individual words, like “ma’am” for “madam” or “gov’t” for “government,” but for some reason, people don’t seem to have as much trouble with those words.

So, in addition to “it’s” (it is) and “they’re” (they are) mentioned above, some of the obvious ones:

  • You’re = You are
  • Don’t = Do not
  • Aren’t = Are not
  • Would’ve = Would have (never “would of”)
  • Shan’t = Shall not
  • I’m = I am
  • We’re = We are
  • He’d = He had
  • Must’ve = Must have
  • Could’ve = Could have (never “could of”)
  • Let’s = Let us
  • Amn’t = Am not
  • Ain’t = Am not

You’ll note that those last two–amn’t and ain’t–mean the same thing. “Ain’t” comes with all sorts of grammatical baggage and is one that the grammar police love to pull over for reckless endangerment of the English language. Generally speaking, “ain’t” is not considered to be proper, or polite, even though it is ironically more correct when used with “I” than the “correct” form, “aren’t.”

As a rule, contractions are frowned upon in formal writing. You should never use them in, say, a business letter, or a doctoral thesis (unless you’re quoting someone). In informal writing, though? Well, you’ve already noticed that I like to use them. It’s more conversational than the more stilted, fully-spelled-out versions. Although, it’s interesting that, when reading, most of us mentally combine the root words into contractions anyway. I could write “I am” but most readers won’t notice whether or not I’ve used the contraction, or not–our brains process them the same way. Go figure.

Your basic rule of thumb? If the word you’re thinking, speaking, or writing is made up of one or more words–easily tested by “spelling it out” in your head–you’ve got a contraction and you will need an apostrophe to write it correctly.

 Edited to add:

Since there were a couple of comments about “amn’t,” I thought I’d  address this a little further. Because, it’s true, “amn’t” is a rather archaic usage. I’ve mostly (only?) ever seen it in things like 19th century novels, but I definitely HAVE seen it. I mean, really, Louisa May Alcott used to use it all the time…. These days, people usually use “aren’t” which is ironic because it’s completely incorrect. You wouldn’t say, “Are not I smart?” so why would you say, “Aren’t I smart?” “Ain’t I smart” is grammatically incorrect as far as illegal contractions go, but is actually closer to the correct grammatical verb structure of the sentence. Really, you should be saying either “Am I not smart?” or “Amn’t I smart?”

Or, you can take the other way out of this messy tangle and just use the modern English “I’m not” . . . although, it doesn’t fit very nicely into my example, does it? “I’m not smart?” just doesn’t have quite the congratulatory, self-affirming ring of the other variations, does it?

Connecting Words

Okay, Joanna and Brad are asking about “connecting words,” and they don’t mean conjunctions like “and” or “but.” No, what they’re looking for are unique, or treasured words that we’ve found out and about in our daily travels, words that might not be common usage, or often heard, but which struck a chord for some reason.

I love the idea of this question, but I’m having the hardest time answering it. I’ve got a good vocabulary, you see. Not perfect, but except for obscure medical and scientific terms, it’s fairly rare for me to come across a word with which I’m not familiar. It happens, but not often. (Maybe browsing through dictionaries in my free time–not to mention a prodigious reading habit–really did pay off.) So, trying to identify a word . . . a real word . . . is tricky.

Because, well, first, I thought of ” Kinnearing,” which is a perfect, made-up word coined by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, and which has taken the blog-world by storm. (Heck, I saw it mentioned on the Teaching Sells forum last month, so clearly it’s spreading beyond knit-bloggers.) (Added on 12/23/07: This IS a “real” word now . . . it made the NYTimes list of Buzzwords of 2007. “To take a candid photograph surreptitiously, especially by holding the camera low and out of the line of sight. Coined in August by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee of the Yarn Harlot blog when she attempted to take a photograph during an encounter with the actor Greg Kinnear at an airport.” How nifty is that?)

I’ve always been fond of the word “grembling” which was coined by Anne McCaffrey, as a blend of the Scots’ “greeting” and “grumbling” to describe a combination of whining, wailing, and general self-pity. It’s really a fabulous word, but since (to my knowledge) it’s manufactured and not a “real” word, no matter how obscure, it takes too much explanation to use it. A darn shame, that.

I like the word “goleor,” too . . . the Celtic word that is the root for “galore,” meaning a plentitude, a plethora of things. But it, too, is so obscure (although at least real), that again, it’s more or less impossible to use it. For that matter, “plethora” is a delightful word. I still remember the first place I saw it used, describing the “plethora of skirts” frothing around the ankles of native women. I’ve always rather liked “cogitate,” too, for thinking. My best friend and I used it in high school all the time: one of us would ask a question and the other, while deciding on her answer, would say, “Think, think think. Cogitate, cogitate, cogitate.”

Then, there’s family slang, like “lammies” for rubber bands, and “garjib” for garbage. (The source being we children, when we were too young to pronounce things properly.) “Xausted,” gets used quite a lot, still, as in “I’m so tired, I’m too exhausted even to use the entire word.”

img_5707copy2.jpgOh yes, and then, “duffel.” There’s a whole mythology of duffels in my family which also dates back to my best friend and me, when we were silly teenagers. During school shopping, Mom picked me up a duffel bag to use for my books and joked, “Now you’ll finally have some place to put all those duffels that have been running around.” We laughed, and I repeated it to my best friend and, suddenly, the Duffel was born … invisible, duffel-bag-shaped creatures with feet but no legs, that hopped everywhere they went and said nothing but “Duffel, duf, duffel.” It’s gotten to the point that, even now, we can still make each other laugh by saying “duffel,” and can instantaneously identify ourselves to one another by saying “duffel” instead of “hello” on the phone. (We even used to argue about which of us would have DUFFEL on our car’s license plate, but since she preferred the DUFFLE spelling, we worked that out.)

Hmm. Actually, I think I’m going to have to say that my favorite connecting word has got to be Duffel. There are too many giggles and laughs tied up with that word for there to be any choice. Pity she doesn’t have a blog I could link to–but I included a little of her artwork for you. Why don’t you come play, too? What words have forged connections for you?

Writing, in Short

Maybe it’s my own, personal quirk, but I am not a big fan of abbreviations.

I can’t really say why. Perhaps there is an affection for formality somewhere in my bone marrow, along with the parts of me that appreciate decent manners and a respect for punctuation.

Mind you, I’m not talking about written abbreviations like “Mr.” or “St.” I don’t feel the need to spell out “Avenue” every time I address an envelope, nor do I particularly want to write out “Oklahoma” or “Wisconsin” instead of “OK” or “WI” on that envelope. No, no, those kinds of abbreviations are useful. Practical.

telegraphkey_1_md.gifThe abbreviations that get under my skin are the casual usages like “LOL,” or “OMG.”

Or when people can’t be bothered to spell out a word that doesn’t have an officially-sanctioned abbreviation, like “wld” for “would”

Or, even worse (shudder), using the number 4 for “for” or the letter R for “are.”

Am I being too picky, too persnickety, too overly sensitive? I don’t think I’m unreasonable. For example, I do not expect people to spell out “laughing out loud” every time they crack a joke in an e-mail, and I’m not talking about cryptic money-saving usages a la the old Western Union telegram messages. I’m even willing to admit that the time- (and thumb-) saving short-cuts in text messages have their place in the world. After all, we have abbreviations in the first place for a reason.

The part that irks me is the lack of awareness that, just because an abbreviation can and should be used in specific instances, that doesn’t mean that it should be used every time you spell out that word, forever and ever. Yet, it’s encroaching, like blue jeans. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Proper usage is like standing up straight–it makes you look good and shows you’ve got some pride in yourself. Casual, unnecessary abbreviations show that you’re lazy. So, um, don’t slouch.

Oh, but one abbreviation that I heartily endorse? People in distress should absolutely feel free to use S.O.S. as much as they like.

(Although, while some say these letters stand for “Save Our Souls” or “Save Our Ship” or other acronym-launching phrases, it’s really not an abbreviation of anything at all. S.O.S. is just the simplest Morse Code message to tap out. Dot Dot Dot Dash Dash Dash Dot Dot Dot. Easy and rhythmic for remembering, sending, and recognizing . . . which, really, explains why these are the only Morse Code letters I remember.)

MM: Emphasis

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Have you noticed that so many punctuation points are working overtime these days? Not just the apostrophe, but also Quotation marks, which are being used not only for dialogue or for the occasional title, but for emphasis. As in when somebody writes something like: Well, I don’t really “believe” in ghosts, but haunted houses give me a chill.

Then there are the extra periods, exclamation points, and question marks added to all sorts of things for emphasis: You did what????? How wonderful!!! To be quite clear, you only ever need one.

(Although, I’ll admit right here–I never claimed to be perfect–that I’ve been known to do two every now and again in an e-mail when I’m particularly excited: Congratulations on getting the promotion, having a baby, winning the lottery, and being interviewed by Oprah all on the same day!! I suppose that, in informal writing, a little extra enthusiasm once in a while can be justified . . . but it’s still a lazy habit which I’m trying to break. Honest!!)

Of course, there’s always text-based shouting: WHICH IS WHEN PEOPLE TYPE IN ALL CAPS because, of course, it looks like the writer is raising his or her voice. Please, never write in all capital letters. It makes you look like you don’t know how to use a shift key, or are too lazy to bother.

If you must capitalize a word or so for emphasis in an arena where italics are unavailable–like leaving blog comments–I suppose you may, but you should try not to. (I’ll admit, this is one I do far too frequently. Sometimes it’s just EASIER to write in caps than to change the formatting.)

How should you denote emphasis when you’re writing?

Ideally, with italics. You know, the slanted font-face. It’s really its main purpose in life, with a sideline in doing the occasional title. Personally, I think that when you use other, less-appropriate forms of text-emphasis, it just makes the italic feature sad. You don’t want that on your conscience, do you?

It’s traditional to use an underscore in manuscripts for text you want to have italicized, because typesetters don’t always catch italics when converting text to type (not to mention that old-school typewriters didn’t have italics as an option). In this modern age of word processing, however, that rule is changing.

Bold text can be used for emphasis, but in a perfect world, should be left mostly to headings and things like dictionary entries–but not in the middle of paragraphs. Although, again, this depends. If you’re writing a manuscript, too much bold in the actual text is tacky, gaudy–like wearing too much jewelry or too much makeup. Too much bold shouts for attention and can be distracting, rather than simply drawing the eye its way. If you’re writing something like ad copy, of course, this is exactly what you want, so, “bold” away.

(Oops, wait, there I go, using quotations for emphasis . . . how tacky of me!)

And, thanks, Judy, for the inspiration for this one.

We Look Alike, We Talk Alike….

You may remember this from grade school, but let’s review anyway, because English words do not always play fair.

Homonyms are words that sound alike (and sometimes, but not always, spelled alike), but have completely different meanings.

  • Bald/Balled/Bawled
  • Basis/Bases
  • Idle/Idol/Idyl
  • Pare/Pear/Pare

Heteronyms are words that are spelled alike (and sometimes, but not always, sound alike), but have completely different meanings.

  • Wind (stiff breeze)/Wind (to coil or wrap)
  • Produce (fruits and vegetables)/Produce (to create)
  • Sewer (where waste products go)/Sewer (a person who stitches)
  • Bow (front of a ship)/Bow (the tool used to shoot an arrow)/Bow (bend at the waist)

Of course, then there are the more obscure ones….
Capitonyms are words that change their meaning when capitalized.

  • August (the month)/august (revered)
  • Polish (from Poland)/polish (used to add a shine)

Autoantonyms (or Contranyms) are words that can have two meanings that are the opposite of themselves.

  • Fast (speedy)/Fast (secured)
  • Bound (restrained)/Bound (to leap)
  • Custom (traditional)/Custom (uniquely personalized)
  • Overlook (to watch)/Overlook (to miss seeing)

Having fun? There are more examples and explanations to be found here, at Nym Words.

Oh? And the word that got me thinking about this subject in the first place?

Shingles: Either a building material for roofs or siding; or the dirty, secret, nasty underbelly of a relatively harmless childhood disease which appears as a painful, rash caused by a reactivation of the chicken pox virus years later for no apparent cause. (Um, (cough), you might not want to ask what made me think of this.)

Respect

Let’s be clear: Civility and Civilization do not depend on knowing when to shake someone’s hand, or which fork to use at dinner. Decisions about whether the short version of “electronic mail” should be spelled with or without a hyphen are not earth-shaking. You don’t have to look down your nose at those enthusiastic e-mails with a multitude of exclamation points. If you’ve had a long day, it’s not even mandatory that you give up your seat on the bus.

When you add all these things together, though, along with road rage, the “familiarity breeds contempt” aspect of e-mail and the internet, and the fact that nobody appears to get dressed up for anything other than the occasional wedding any more . . . then it starts to look like we’re getting too casual about everything.

j0423057.jpgThere was an episode of the sitcom “Just Shoot Me” in 1998 where the fashion expert, Nina Van Horn, comes to the office upset because she’d just seen the movie Titanic and was distraught. “All those beautiful clothes! People don’t make clothing like that anymore Everyone talks about the absentee father, but it’s casual wear that’s ruining society.” She may have exaggerated just a tad (grin), but maybe she wasn’t completely wrong.

We’ve come a long way from Jane Austen’s era when every daily detail was proscribed by etiquette. I wouldn’t want to go back to that strict set of rules any more than I’d want to go back to wearing a corset, but even as little as forty years ago, people wore hats every day, wore suits when they travelled, and got dressed for the theater. Being comfortable is a good thing, but the addiction to comfort is insidious. Why wear a skirt if jeans will do? Why wear a neck tie if you can get away with a polo shirt? Why hold the door when women’s lib so clearly made the point that women want to be treated equally to men? Why bother with spelling when it’s just an e-mail to a friend?

Except . . . what if it’s a formal business meeting? Or a funeral? There are every-day occasions where formality is still important. What if that woman you’re not holding the door for has her arms full of groceries–or a child? What about a woman holding the door for a man with his arms full?

None of these things are mandatory, but a certain amount of politeness is the oil that helps keep society running smoothly. Even if the sales clerk too busy chatting on the phone to ring up your order doesn’t seem to deserve any respect, don’t you owe it to yourself to be the best member of society you can be? Lead by example. It’s a matter of respect, after all . . . for yourself as much as for other people.

Annually

birth[noun]1. The act or instance of being born <biology class will be showing a movie of the birth of kittens>

Synonyms: nativity

Related Words: creation, genesis, origination, rise; bearing, childbearing, labor, parturition; begetting, breeding, fathering, generation, mothering, reproduction, siring, spawning; fatherhood, maternity, motherhood, parenthood, paternity

Yep, it’s my birthday. And, see? I brought some cake.

Now, today seems the perfect time to do this meme that I came across over here yesterday:

41ctcolfynl_ss260_ The idea is to tell what I was doing 10 years ago, 20 years ago, and 30 years ago. She added 40 to this meme, so I played along with that, too. Feel free to join in and do this one as well, if you’re interested.

10 years ago: 1997. 31 years old. I had just finished taking swimming lessons for the first time in my life, and had a friend teach me to drive a stick shift (which I haven’t done since). I had figured I wanted to start that new decade off by checking a few things off my life list.

20 years ago. 1987. 21 years old. I was in London for the semester in college, my Junior year. And my actual, 21st birthday? I spent that actual day all alone in Trier, Germany, being stood up by a no-show pen-pal, while my camera broke, the batteries in my walkman died, and I couldn’t find a thing in English to read, and ended up having supper at McDonalds. Well, it was memorable!

30 years ago. 1977. 11 years old. Um . . . fifth grade. Chances are we were listening to the 1776 soundtrack in school. Honestly, I’ve got nothing.

40 years ago. 1967. 1 year old. That was obviously a big day, being my first birthday and all, but I have to tell you, I don’t remember much of it. I did, however, get my all-time-favorite doll, Buttons, that birthday. You can see her in this picture with little-bitty me. She spends her time in the guest room these days, but she’s still very much loved.

MM: Their, They’re, Now…

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Okay, a show of hands . . . how many people have seen the word “there,” “their,” or “they’re” misused in the last 24 hours?

All of you, right?

Let’s review:

  • There: A specific place. (“You can put that book over there.”)
    Also used as an interjection. (“There! It’s done!”)
  • Their: The possessive case of “they.” (“Then he stole all their gold and gave it to the poor.”)
  • They’re: A conjunction combining the words “they” and “are.” (“Hurray, they’re here!”)

Link Fest

There are lot of other great writing sites out there, you know. Here are just a few for you to look at, in alphabetical order….

Confident Writing

E-mail Etiquette Matters!

Kate Blogs About

Writing Clear and Simple

Writing Thoughts