Tag Archives: grammar

Your Copy Sucks: Punctuation Ruins Lives


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Man Looking at Question Mark in ClassroomThis blog post begins on a personal note. I am legally obligated to tell you that in case you are a very important person who can’t be bothered with personal notes. You have been warned!

I’m currently dating quite the sweetie and life is pretty good, I guess! We have fun times, and we’re both wordy people. Ahhhhh, the joy of conversing with someone who knows what adverbs are! It’s quite nice.

But a spanner was thrown in the works, guys. We had our first fight. And it was about punctuation. Continue reading

They’re’s a problem with are grammar (Part too)


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DictionaryAlright All right folks – let’s try this again.  As a very late followup to part won of this post, presented below are some of you’re own pet peeves when it comes to proper word youse.  And if you haven’t noticed it yet – every underlined word so far is improperly yoused or completely nonexistent.  As a reminder, I’ll repeat the notes presented in the first post – Continue reading

Your Copy Sucks: subject/verb/pronoun agreement, or how to count


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Hands countingLast week, we here at the PRBC HQ received one of Cog‘s many passive-aggressive e-mails about meeting our deadlines. We don’t really mind those e-mails; we usually ignore them while our deadlines go whooshing by. But this one was more ingeniously manipulative than most. “For those of you without posts in the queue,” it said, “(and you two know who you are) this is a reminder to get your posts in on Sunday as early as you can.”

Obviously our internal e-mail thread devolved into lots of people apologizing for being one of those two. Which was weird, because at least 10 people came forward to claim their place of shame in those two slots. Waitacottonpickin’ minute, I said, clearly we are all slackers, not just two of us! You really made us scared, Cog, that we were only one of two deadbeats in the group. Cog tried to defend himself by saying that “you two” referred to the two goody-two-shoes that DID finish their posts under the deadline. Continue reading

Your Copy Sucks: That vs. Which vs. Wait, what?


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close-up of cloth pouch with scrabble tilesJust admit it. ADMIT IT. You don’t know when to use “that” and when to use “which” in a sentence.

Don’t cry! Nobody does. Seriously, no one can remember the rules for that/which because they are so. Freakin’. Difficult to remember when you’re in the middle of writing. But some of you actually care about your writing, and for you, I will break it down. The rest of you can go, I don’t know, eat cheez doodles and watch the local news.

Here’s what the Chicago Manual of Style (praise be His name) has to say about that/which: Continue reading

Your Copy Sucks: Who vs. Whom


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M painted on roadAre you sick of sounding silly when trying to use “whom” correctly? Of course you are. Here is how you figure out when to use “who” or “whom.”

Whom replaces a subject where the answer to the question could be either “him” or “her” or “them.” I remember it like this: whom ends in an M, just like him. Continue reading

They’re’s a problem with are grammar


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DictionaryAlright folks, I know using Twitter and email is all about speed and brevity, but their are sum things that our simply inexcusable for communications professionals.

Before getting into it, a few notes. Continue reading

Your Copy Sucks: a flack writing workshop


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Here’s the thing about writing: it’s on everything. Newspapers, TV shows, blogs, web sites, Twitter, e-mails, press releases, yogurt cups, bus terminal walls, billboards, handbills—all these things are covered in copy. And, like most things in this world, 90% of it is just terrible.

It’s a lifeless, mediocre attempt at grabbing and keeping our interest, of sparking our imaginations, of helping or guiding or moving us. But until the PR industry comes up with some sort of sci-fi helmet that we can use to just beam our pitches directly into the brains of the people we want to speak to, we’ll have to learn to be brilliant among all this flotsam that the unfortunate public has been exposed to.

Continue reading