Thursday, April 14, 2016

Don't Make Your Editor Cringe

Wilma Acree
Our illustrious leader Sandy Tritt asked me to share thoughts on usages that cause us to cringe. 
Good vs. well Good is used as an adjective to modify a noun or pronoun. It may appear before a noun, after a being verb (am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been), or after a linking verb such as smell. (Hint: If smell is a linking verb, you can substitute a form of be for it.) 
  • This is a good book.
  • This book is good.
  • This book seemed good at the beginning.
In all of these examples, good is an adjective describing book. Well is usually an adverb but can be used as an adjective in reference to health. Although the issue is still debated, most sources agree that I am well means I am healthy and advise its use in manuscripts and other formal writing.
Between you and I vs. between you and me Between is a preposition and requires an objective pronoun such as me. An easy test: Leave off the first noun or pronoun and the conjunction and. Between I? Definitely wrong.
Less vs. fewer These words are not interchangeable. Use less for uncountable items or values and fewer with numbers or anything that can be counted (fewer dollars, fewer jobs, but less money, less work).
Loose vs. lose Loose is an adjective meaning not tight. Lose is a verb meaning to misplace. I should tighten this loose screw before I lose it.
Awhile vs. a while A while is a noun phrase. Awhile is an adverb modifying a verb. In a prepositional phrase, use a while (for a while, in a while, etc.) The children will play awhile. After a while, I will call them in.
A lot vs. allot A lot is always two words meaning many. Avoid it in formal writing. Allot is a verb meaning to distribute. Alot is not a word. Would you write alittle?
What errors cause you to cringe? Share them and I will be happy to address them.

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