Saturday, October 12, 2013

This Blog Is no Longer Being Updated

Thanks for visiting this blog. I am no longer posting updates but will keep all previous posts up.

("Nobody reads my blog" t-shirt image from

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Loathe vs. Loath

I'm loath to bring this up, but here's something I loathe: when loath is used incorrectly.

Loath ≠ loathe

Loath is an adjective and means reluctant.

Loathe is a verb and means to detest.

Actually, I don't loathe this mistake, it simply annoys me. But it worked in the first sentence.

"Loathe" T-shirt available here.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Regrettably vs. Regretfully

Regrettably means unfortunately.

Regretfully means with regret.

Regrettably he submitted his manuscript; we returned it regretfully.

Sometimes it just works out that way.

"Regrettably, All The Good Paying Jobs Start Before I Get Up." T-shirt available here

Monday, January 16, 2012

How do you become a copy editor?

Here's a not uncommon question from a reader:
I stumbled upon your blog today while trying to look up insure versus ensure. My question is, how does one get involved in the copy editing field? Is this something you can do from home? I work in a library—if the budget cuts get nasty I want to have some other options available to me.
Good question. It seems every copy editor has a different path to this noble pursuit. Some seem to have been born to it. I took a more circuitous route.

Although I always loved to read—a habit my mother, an avid reader, instilled in me—I never thought I would write or edit words.

My dream was to become a photographer. For years, I seem to have seen the world through my camera—another gift from my mother, for my 16th birthday. I eventually realized my passion for photography was greater than my talent. That's when I switched to words.

Still, I didn't study English or literature or journalism. I studied political economy. After graduate school, I worked in a think tank on a book project. Two of the writers were non-native English speakers. They asked me to clean up their writing before it was sent out for review. I wasn't bad at editing and learned a lot on the job. I took some copy editing classes at the local university and improved my skills.

I later became a reporter and writer. Then an editor. And eventually a copy editor.

My advice to those interested in becoming a copy editor is to find someone to practice on. Edit a friend's writing. (I did this back in the day with my friend Steve, whose writing and spelling were atrocious. Our friendship survived my pedantic editing.) Or volunteer with an organization that puts out a newsletter or has a blog. Get some experience, and see if you even like copyediting. (I'll be honest: It's not glamorous work, though I do find it fulfilling.) Take some classes at the local university. Make some contacts, and see what happens.

That's how I became a copy editor. If you have a story or advice you'd like to share, please post it in the comments.

Copy editor T-shirt available at

Majority are vs. Majority is

Happy new year! I hope the majority of you are enjoying 2012.

Or is that "majority is enjoying"?

A dear friend who battles with colleagues on grammar asked for clarification recently. Here's what I wrote:

Majority can take a singular or plural verb; it depends on the context. If a group is acting as a whole, then it would be singular, such as "the majority of council members has voted in favor." But if they are acting as individuals, then it would be plural. Such as: "the majority of my readers are enjoying the new year".

"(i) am the new majority" T-shirt available here.