EditNATION.com Punctuation and Grammar Quiz #12 Questions and Answers!

These first 10 sentences are from ONE website! As you edit, don’t forget my…enthusiasm…for sentences with more than one mistake in them.
1) We have design immersive environments for clients such as Getty Images, ADOBE, Microsoft, BMI, Ford to name a few.
(That was on the homepage.)
Gee, do you mean “designed”?
2) XYZ, president and founder of ABC, is as an entertainment industry connector at the intersection of content and technology.
(That was on the founder’s bio!)
It’s incredible to me that no one seems to read his or her writing before publishing! How can this be allowed to happen?
3) Later on, in a visionary role, he directed Qwest Communications to leverage the power of the rising internet and launch Qwest “anywhere anytime” digital media and entertainment practice signing up major record companies, TV networks, and media organizations including NBC, CBS, EMI, Sony as well as sports’ teams like the Giants.
(So was that!)
Incredible. What a hot mess! And discussing a “visionary role,” too! First off, that should be “Qwest’s.” Then there’s some pretty indecipherable prose (should there be a comma after “practice”? I mean, I’m clueless), and what’s that apostrophe doing in “sports”? I’ll tell you what: you look like all kinds of a fool when you drop names like these—the highest of high-profile clients—and you publish this sort of content.
4) A trusted advisor to the media and entertainment industry, he presides over several media and entertainment think-tank and produces executive briefings summits for a selected group of media and tech executives.
(And that!)
I wouldn’t trust this self-proclaimed advisor to give me his opinion about anything! (Though I do love sentences with more than one mistake in them!) Okay, “think-tank” should be plural, and, what, pray, is a “briefings summits”?
5) He is currently an associate member of NARAS (Grammys.) and a member of the Austin Chamber of Commerce.
(And that!)
What’s that period doing in those parentheses?
6) We have our feet on the ground in every major markets as well as participate in global conferences such as Midem, MIPTV, MIPCOM, NAB, Asia TV Forum, NATPE, CES, Music Matters Asia and selected industry seminars and summits.
Suggestion: We have our feet on the ground in every major market and participate in global conferences, such as Midem, MIPTV, MIPCOM, NAB, Asia TV Forum, NATPE, CES, Music Matters Asia, as well as selected industry seminars and summits.
However, “feet on the ground” is awkward, in addition to being such a cliché! (Did he or she mean “boots on the ground”? No matter, that’s still a cliché.)
7) We provide business development, marketing, around conferences-ShowPLUS-and one-on-one meetings with c-level executives
What’s “ShowPLUS” doing smack dab in the middle of that sentence? And if you did want to put it there, use dashes, not hyphens! Last thing: When you join a single letter and another word with a hyphen, capitalize the letter, e.g., T-shirt, X-ray, U-boat, A-frame, and, yes, C-level.
8) With over a decade of experience in trade-show management, our team will provide your with an an added-value package within your budget, with premium visibility and a superb ROI.
Two mistakes in one sentence! “Your” should be “you,” and there’s a double-clutch with “an” (which would have been discovered if the author had just put his or her writing through Word).
9) Your target market-we mine the database and and match it with our 2000+ VIP listing, make introductions and facilitate one-on-one meetings.
Double-clutch with “and.” Plus, I would have wanted to see a dash there, not a hyphen.
10) Please contact us so we have the opportunity to go in great details on how we add value and that can benefit your company.
I hardly think that contacting you would benefit me! Okay: it’s “detail,” not “details,” and take out “that.” Even then, the whole sentence needs to be rewritten. Very bad writing all around.
Whew, enough from that site! Imagine hiring that team! Here are some more gems from assorted “professionals.”
11) Drawn to the area to study art at UMass, she sites both the thriving artistic community and the affordable cost of living as her reason for not moving to a more traditional art hub like NYC after graduation.
I think you meant “cites,” not “sites.”
12) If you would like to register to receive the GrammarTip newsletter by e-mail, fill in your email address in the box to the left.
Grammar tip: Don’t use two spellings of one word in a single sentence.
13) This is the most important thing about the list: Don’t write down things you *want* to do next week, right down what you *will do* next week.
An asterisk is not proper here. You can’t just make up stuff.
14) Dr Sanjay Khurana, a spinal surgeon, told NBC4 he “did a brief exam and smelled the fuel and didn’t want it to ignite”.
This is from an AMERICAN website, so put a period after “Dr.” and a period inside those quotation marks.
15) Paramedics found Ford to be “alert and conscious” and suffering “moderate trauma”, Patrick Butler, the Los Angeles assistant fire chief, told a press conference at the scene.
I’d rewrite this, but, nonetheless, commas always go inside quotation marks.
16) In fact, the father of our country, George Washington, at one time also felt very disappointed in the direction of our newly-formed nation and was not afraid to state it.
Horrible sentence, and compounded by the hyphenated —ly adverb.
17) As a provider of the world’s finest aligator goods we are happy to recieve your feedback and answer any questions you may have.
No excuse for misspelling your product line (or, in this case, the source of your product line), and, never forget the old adage: “I before E, except after C,” which I thought everyone knew. BOTH of these misspelled words would have been caught by Word. Why aren’t people using that simple tool to prevent themselves from looking like idiots?
18) Your Advanced Plan is comprised of six elements and is offered at no additional charge to you.
No, no, no. See my “Commonly Misused Words” post about “comprise” and “compose.” Small things comprise a large thing; large things are composed of small things.
19) The marketing team are very proud that they have helped so many clients achieve amazing results through implementing an inbound marketing approach.
“Team” is a collective noun. It’s singular. The team “is” proud that “it has” helped.
20) A big idea is a simple and concise visual motif that says everything that need be said.
A “big idea” says everything that NEEDS to be said.
21) The YEC is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs.
That old compose versus comprise thing again. All those promising entrepreneurs, languishing in ignorance….Pretty, um, yec-y, wouldn’t you say?
22) For check payments or to receive an invoice or purchase order, please call 888-602-3270 or e-mail is at info@hrps.org.
Email: drop the hyphen. And, it should be “us,” not “is.”
23) ABC, global online marketing manager, now uses our software everyday.
Wow, oh, wow! The “global” online marketing manager uses your software every day? Is that what you meant?
24) They leverage their clients scheduled events to attract visitors to the client’s website.
Where’s that first apostrophe in client’s?
Remember Hill Street Blues? What did that sergeant say before dismissing the troops?
“Let’s be careful out there!”

Need help with content editing? Please give EditNATION.com owner Liz Coursen a call at 941-706-2463.

EditNATION.com Punctuation and Grammar Quiz #13

Nice group of sentences this time around, with material from content marketers, self-proclaimed professional writers and editors, and a couple of people who don’t know any better (but should).

1) A couple of years ago Christina participated in an online discussion offering advice to aspiring writers, I was one of those writers.

2) She has written hundreds of articles for national, regional, and online publications, presents at literary and publishing events around the country, and is a monthly columnist for the Willamette Writer.

3) Approaching the editing stage of your project usually indicates that the end is insight, and most likely it is.

4) This book will later be your editors go to source to ensure all information has been transposed accurately from their primary source.

5) This allows you to an opportunity to see the final product, check facts again, colours, spacing, quality of pictures etc.

6) If you keep your book small your most likely to have fewer opportunities to make mistakes.

7) Before entering into writing your family history book, one thing is key; organization.

8) It’s more like a technically-advanced version of the scrapbooks, diaries and photo albums of my ancestors.

9) Blogs are unique in that their content – called posts – are displayed in reverse chronological order with the most recent post at the top of the screen.

10) Technology has given us so may different ways to present our family stories – current families as well as past ones – that there’s something for everyone at just about any skill level or any budget.

11) They add atmosphere to the project, help direct the reader’s eye to the areas I want them to see and spotlight specific photos.

12) It’s more like a technically-advanced version of the scrapbooks, diaries and photo albums of my ancestors.

13) So this is important in real world marketing folks.

14) All of our products are installed by Trained, Experienced and Certified Professional Installers.

15) Your windows reflect much about you and your personal tastes that’s why you should demand nothing but the best.

16) With over 25 years experience, our law practice specializes in Family Law, Personal Injury, Bankruptcy, Foreclosure Defense, Probate, Wills, DUI and Criminal Law.

17) Editorial selections are made by Zuburbia with no direct promotional consideration from the featured eBay sellers however Zuburbia may receive revenue as an affiliate member of the eBay Partner Network.

18) The ring bares full Tiffany hallmarks as well as metal content.

19) He also optimised the website for search and used the HubSpot’s in-built keywords tool to increase its’ discoverability.

20) I’m starting a new site, and the centerpiece of my content strategy will be locating and making sense of the smartest articles, audio, and video I can find in that topical market that are created by others.

Need help with content editing? Have a project that’s just got to be right? Please give EditNATION.com owner Liz Coursen a call at 941-706-2463.

 

EditNATION.com Blog: When you’re trying to get new business, don’t do this!

Last week I was poking around the website of someone who claims to be an “entrepreneur advisor.” I’m always especially interested in what “advisors” have to say, since, let’s face it, they’ve staked out “best and brightest” territory. You know, people PAY for their opinion. Well, I wouldn’t give you a nickel for this guy’s advice.
It was interesting to see this mean-spirited fellow publicly make fun of one of his clients—someone who had come to him for advice—by printing what he claimed were emails from the actual client and then basically calling her an idiot. Not, in my opinion, a great way to get new clients, and certainly not a great way to keep them!
All I could think of as I was reading his content was this: who in his or her right mind would put up with abuse from a man who hasn’t grasped the basics of American English? Who would PAY to be abused by a self-proclaimed “advisor” who can’t write a decent sentence? His writing is stuffed with comma splices, he hasn’t a clue about the function of a hyphen, and his inability to use quotation marks would shame a fifth grader.

Let’s look at a few of his sentences. I have to limit myself to “a few,” sadly, but more will undoubtedly percolate through future “what-not-to-do” quizzes. For organizational purposes, I’m going to group them by mistake.

Hyphens. Rule: Hyphenate compound adjectives when the compound adjective precedes the noun that it modifies. Exception: Never hyphenate an —ly adverb.
A partnership is a two way street. (Hyphenate two-way, which modifies street.)
Let’s set up a three way conversation. (Hyphenate three-way, which modifies conversation.)
I found a 45 year perspective on household incomes. (Hyphenate 45-year, which modifies perspective.)
Blow the decision making process by selling to the influencer. (Hyphenate decision-making, which modifies process.)

Quotation marks. Rule A: In American English, commas and periods always go inside quotation marks. There are no exceptions. None. Rule B: In American English, use double quotes. Single quotes are only used when quoting someone else in conversation.
One more thing, you can’t say things like, “Trust me.”, “Honestly.” or “Listen to me.”
I skimmed it because it promised “5 Tell-Tale Signs”.

Comma splice. Rule: You cannot join two complete sentences with a comma; you must do one of three things: separate the sentences, join the sentences with a semicolon, or join the sentences with a comma plus a conjunction. These are splendid examples of what a comma splice looks like.
Now, I’m not going to write a treatise on Inbound Marketing, contact Pete.
However, (not intended to be morbid) sometimes machines and technology cannot do the impossible, as in the case of my father, the machine could not put life where there was none.

Noun-pronoun agreement. Rule: You cannot “gender neutral” a singular noun by using a plural pronoun. Singular nouns require singular pronouns.
When a potential client reads a case study, typically it’s because they are looking to see how your company provided a solution to another company in your industry. (A potential client and “they.”)
Also, the professional writer knows how to write a case study as a success story, so it will engage the reader and convince them of the benefits of your products or services. (The reader and “them.” Who’s a “professional writer”?)
Last Thursday, I rewound to the beginning of a sales process so that I could understand how the salesperson and their prospect got to where they were. (The salesperson and “their.”)

Misspellings and missing words. Rule: Read over what you type before you publish!
If you’ve been in sales for a while, you’ve had a sales manager of consultant tell you that you have to qualify your prospects before you give them a proposal, demo or ask them to buy.
Then, one guy says, “I don’t have a tip, but what’s the #1 thing that I should right now to attract the attention of potential customers?”

Multiple mistakes. Sometimes he combined mistakes, to create a whole new taste sensation!
If you answer, “Yes.” to two of them, talk to me.
So, go read the article, judge for yourself and believe what you want to believe about Dave and I (or is it “me and Dave?”).

Well, buddy, you’re the “advisor”; you tell me!

Hey, everyone—listen. There are plenty of “advisors” out there, people who will take a genuine interest in you and your business, and be respectful while they are doing it. You don’t have to settle for less-than-literate, impolite, bombastic hacks. Nobody does.

EditNATION.com Punctuation and Grammar Quiz #11 Questions and Answers!

More error-ridden material from “professional” writers. And don’t just stop at one mistake per sentence, either: more than one sentence has more than one mistake!

1) Simply put, It’s worth more than your credit card!
Improper capitalization: lower case that “I.”

2) I’ll give you a scientifically-proven technique for customizing your social media.
Never hyphenate an —ly adverb.

3) You need to build awareness and buzz about your webinar so people can sign up to be apart of it.
One space can make a bunch of difference, and missing that one space is especially unfortunate in this particular sentence. “A part” means to be part of; “apart” means to be separate.

4) Since you’re working hard to produce blog content associated with your webinar, embed call to actions on your blog and website to capture the attention of your visitors.
“Call-to-action” is what’s called a compound noun. The proper plural is “calls-to-action.” A dictionary will give the plural form of most compounds that are tricky (attorneys general, mothers-in-law, aides-de-camp, coups de foudre, letters to the editor, turns of phrase, passers by (or passersby), etc.).

5) The company, the nation’s largest privately-owned bacon manufacturer is building a new 300,000 sq. ft. plant that offers Sous Vide cooking and provides big brands with innovative co-development labs.
Again, no hyphen with an —ly adverb. Also, the information in the phrase “the nation’s largest privately owned bacon manufacturer” is what’s called parenthetical information; in other words, information that’s interesting but not absolutely necessary in the sentence, which is about the new manufacturing facility. So, that phrase needs to be enclosed by commas, which means there should have been a comma between “manufacturer” and “is.”
Here’s the trick: When parenthetical information is placed in the middle of a sentence, you should be able to remove the information between the commas and still have the sentence make sense. Try it.

6) It provides a wide-ranging, value-added assortment of raw and fully-cooked products for domestic and international customers across all channels of trade.
Again (and again!): no hyphenating —ly adverbs. I know it sounds right, but it isn’t.

7) JiLin is a Chinese province of more than 27 million people located roughly 600 miles Northeast of Beijing.
“Northeast” is not a proper noun here, it indicates direction, so it is not capitalized. If you said “the Northeast,” however, referring to New England, then it’d be a proper noun and so would be capitalized.

8) The JiLin Chicago Business Center opened it’s doors in October 2014 with officials from the Chinese Government and Chicago business leaders, in addition to Chinese suppliers and American buyers.
Yikes! Huge mistake: the old its versus it’s mistake. Microsoft Word caught this; why didn’t the author?
Also, “Government” is not a proper noun in this case, and so shouldn’t be capitalized.

9) The expectations are stated upfront, roles are clearly defined and employee growth is inevitable at a solid manufacturing company.
To my mind, the expression “up front” is a little too colloquial for business writing: it smacks of playground chatter. At any rate, “upfront” is not one word. At best, it’s hyphenated as an expression, and isn’t one word in any situation. How ‘bout a more grownup expression?
I have two other problems with this sentence. First, there are three items in this list and, in my opinion, every item should be separated by a comma for clarity. Second, “inevitable” and “solid” aren’t good word choices; “inevitable” is especially bad. Few things are “inevitable,” especially in business.

10) With the safety and even people’s lives at risk-there is no room to make mistakes.
Not a good sentence. We’ve got two basically identical concepts to kick it off: questionable safety does put people at risk. Plus, that hyphen is all wrong there—it should have been a dash. And, a dash isn’t particularly wonderful there—I would have used a comma.
My take: With people’s lives at risk, there is no room to make mistakes.

12) 81% of marketers in manufacturing are on YouTube, not only that-it’s reported as the most effective channel they use in their content marketing.
Really bad sentence.
Rule: Never start a sentence with a numeral: spell it out. Also, spell out “percent.”
Rule: This is a comma splice, which is two sentences jammed together without the benefit of proper punctuation. In this case, you either need a semicolon after YouTube, or you divide the sentence in two after YouTube.
Rule: Here’s another person using a hyphen as a dash. A hyphen is not a dash. A hyphen joins, while a dash separates.
Corrected: Eighty-one percent of marketers in manufacturing are on YouTube; not only that, YouTube is reported as the most effective channel they use in their content marketing.

13) Manufacturing companies stick to educational industry content in video format, what’s stopping you from doing the same?
Geez, what a nasty comma splice! You need a semicolon after “format,” not a comma.

14) Manufacturing websites are rarely friendly to the eye, today’s mobile audience and are next to impossible to find what you’re actually looking for.
I have no idea what that sentence means.

15) Think digital and remember that social media sites, marketing ads, and content all work to drive traffic towards the website in the hopes of converting people to register for a newsletters, sign up for other information, or make a purchase.
What a long, convoluted sentence! At a minimum, I would have put a comma after “digital.” And “converting” is not good here: “encouraging” or “convincing” would have been better. “Converting” people to do something sounds a tad ominous.

16) Setup a call to chat about your business.
“Setup” is wrong here. One word as noun, two words as verb.

17) He is a huge analytics guy, and lives by the mantra “Test, review, revise, retest!”.
Major mistake is that period at the end of the sentence. Also, since we’re quoting this guy, put a colon after “mantra.”

18) To be an example through Gods love and being a shining light in the world through others.
Very awkward sentence. Of course, it should read “God’s love.” But the rest of it is difficult, especially given the proximity of “God” and “being.” Brother!
I am not going to hazard a guess as to how this sentence should read.

19) He is a globally-recognized blogger, speaker, educator, business consultant, and author.
Ooops! That old bugaboo the hyphenated —ly adverb rears its ugly head. So much for being “globally recognized”!

20) They had become familiar with inbound marketing through it’s blog content and free educational resources.
Wow. We need more “free educational resources”! Lots more!

Now, who caught the mistake in the list format itself?
Need a hint? Where’s Item #11?
Lists are fraught with peril; always check and double-check your work!!

Need help with content editing? Please give EditNATION.com owner Liz Coursen a call at 941-706-2463.

EditNATION.com Punctuation and Grammar Quiz #12

These first 10 sentences are from ONE website! As you edit, don’t forget my…enthusiasm…for sentences with more than one mistake in them.

1) We have design immersive environments for clients such as Getty Images, ADOBE, Microsoft, BMI, Ford to name a few.

(That was on the homepage.)

2) XYZ, president and founder of ABC, is as an entertainment industry connector at the intersection of content and technology.

(That was on the founder’s bio!)

3) Later on, in a visionary role, he directed Qwest Communications to leverage the power of the rising internet and launch Qwest “anywhere anytime” digital media and entertainment practice signing up major record companies, TV networks, and media organizations including NBC, CBS, EMI, Sony as well as sports’ teams like the Giants.

(So was that!)

4) A trusted advisor to the media and entertainment industry, he presides over several media and entertainment think-tank and produces executive briefings summits for a selected group of media and tech executives.

(And that!)

5) He is currently an associate member of NARAS (Grammys.) and a member of the Austin Chamber of Commerce.

(And that!)

6) We have our feet on the ground in every major markets as well as participate in global conferences such as Midem, MIPTV, MIPCOM, NAB, Asia TV Forum, NATPE, CES, Music Matters Asia and selected industry seminars and summits.

7) We provide business development, marketing, around conferences – ShowPLUS – and one-on-one meetings with c-level executives

8) With over a decade of experience in trade-show management, our team will provide your with an an added-value package within your budget, with premium visibility and a superb ROI.

9) Your target market – we mine the database and and match it with our 2000+ VIP listing, make introductions and facilitate one-on-one meetings.

10) Please contact us so we have the opportunity to go in great details on how we add value and that can benefit your company.

Whew, enough from that site! Imagine hiring that team! Here are some more gems from assorted “professionals.”

11) Drawn to the area to study art at UMass, she sites both the thriving artistic community and the affordable cost of living as her reason for not moving to a more traditional art hub like NYC after graduation.

12) If you would like to register to receive the GrammarTip newsletter by e-mail, fill in your email address in the box to the left.

13) This is the most important thing about the list: Don’t write down things you *want* to do next week, right down what you *will do* next week.

14) Dr Sanjay Khurana, a spinal surgeon, told NBC4 he “did a brief exam and smelled the fuel and didn’t want it to ignite”.

15) Paramedics found Ford to be “alert and conscious” and suffering “moderate trauma”, Patrick Butler, the Los Angeles assistant fire chief, told a press conference at the scene.

16) In fact, the father of our country, George Washington, at one time also felt very disappointed in the direction of our newly-formed nation and was not afraid to state it.

17) As a provider of the world’s finest aligator goods we are happy to recieve your feedback and answer any questions you may have.

18) Your Advanced Plan is comprised of six elements and is offered at no additional charge to you.

19) The marketing team are very proud that they have helped so many clients achieve amazing results through implementing an inbound marketing approach.

20) A big idea is a simple and concise visual motif that says everything that need be said.

21) The YEC is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs.

22) For check payments or to receive an invoice or purchase order, please call 888-602-3270 or e-mail is at info@hrps.org.

23) ABC, global online marketing manager, now uses our software everyday.

24) They leverage their clients scheduled events to attract visitors to the client’s website.

 

Commonly misused words: insure versus ensure.

This is easy.

“Insure” should only be used in the context of “insurance,” like car insurance, liability insurance, etc.
“Ensure” means to make certain.

Sadly, I’ve had more than my share of dealing with attorneys this past decade (don’t ask!), and I’ll never forget the time I was in this mediation lawyer’s office. His paperwork announced that he charged as much as $1600 per hour. You’d think—at $1600 an hour—that he’d be a serious guy, a guy who dotted his i’s and crossed his t’s. Well, the first thing that hit me was the fact that he’d used “insure” when he should have used “ensure,” which didn’t exactly give me a lot of confidence in his abilities, if you know what I mean.
$1600 an hour. Imagine.

Need help with content editing? Please give EditNATION.com owner Liz Coursen a call at 941-706-2463.

 

EditNATION.com Punctuation and Grammar Quiz #11

More error-ridden material from “professional” writers. And don’t just stop at one mistake per sentence, either: more than one sentence has more than one mistake!

1) Simply put, It’s worth more than your credit card!

2) I’ll give you a scientifically-proven technique for customizing your social media.

3) You need to build awareness and buzz about your webinar so people can sign up to be apart of it.

4) Since you’re working hard to produce blog content associated with your webinar, embed call to actions on your blog and website to capture the attention of your visitors.

5) The company, the nation’s largest privately-owned bacon manufacturer is building a new 300,000 sq. ft. plant that offers Sous Vide cooking and provides big brands with innovative co-development labs.

6) It provides a wide-ranging, value-added assortment of raw and fully-cooked products for domestic and international customers across all channels of trade.

7) JiLin is a Chinese province of more than 27 million people located roughly 600 miles Northeast of Beijing.

8) The JiLin Chicago Business Center opened it’s doors in October 2014 with officials from the Chinese Government and Chicago business leaders, in addition to Chinese suppliers and American buyers.

9) The expectations are stated upfront, roles are clearly defined and employee growth is inevitable at a solid manufacturing company.

10) With the safety and even people’s lives at risk – there is no room to make mistakes.

12) 81% of marketers in manufacturing are on YouTube, not only that – it’s reported as the most effective channel they use in their content marketing.

13) Manufacturing companies stick to educational industry content in video format, what’s stopping you from doing the same?

14) Manufacturing websites are rarely friendly to the eye, today’s mobile audience and are next to impossible to find what you’re actually looking for.

15) Think digital and remember that social media sites, marketing ads, and content all work to drive traffic towards the website in the hopes of converting people to register for a newsletters, sign up for other information, or make a purchase.

16) Setup a call to chat about your business.

17) He is a huge analytics guy, and lives by the mantra “Test, review, revise, retest!”.

18) To be an example through Gods love and being a shining light in the world through others.

19) He is a globally-recognized blogger, speaker, educator, business consultant, and author.

20) They had become familiar with inbound marketing through it’s blog content and free educational resources.

EditNATION.com Quiz #10 Questions and Answers!

1) He worked for Mayflower Bank, a publicly-traded, SEC regulated company with 500 shareholders, for 35 years, serving as President and CEO for the last 20 years.
Rule: Never hyphenate an —ly adverb. I would have, however, stuck a hyphen between “SEC” and “regulated.”
2) At an office job, you will be paid for certain Federal holidays, such as Christmas, New Year’s Day, etc.
In this case, “federal” is not a proper noun, and so should be lower case.
3) The host interviews artists and musicians working in Manatee and Sarasota Counties.
Rule: When common nouns are plural, referring to two or more places or things, do not capitalize them.
Correct: The host interviews artists and musicians working in Manatee and Sarasota counties.
4) On the fourth day, the Oatman family was attacked by a group of Native Americans (described by Olive as Apaches, but possibly a branch of the Yavapai people).
What? They were attacked by “Native Americans”? Oh, please! Talk about political correctness running amok! This is my nomination for “Most Obtuse Sentence of 2015,” though every time I read it, I discover that it is good for a laugh.
5) John Muir said “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks,” I couldn’t agree more.
Well, how ’bout putting a colon after “said” and a period after “seeks”? The rule about colon versus comma with a quote is that you generally use a comma when you are quoting a conversation, but you use a colon when you are quoting something someone said, non-conversationally. That “someone” is generally not alive anymore. (I was going to say “dead,” but I didn’t want that unfortunate rhyme….)
6) We partnered with the company’s social media and PR teams to launch the a website update and social media campaign.
There’s no excuse for a sentence like this on a company’s homepage.

7) She is an incredible teacher who’s wisdom and guidance has been transformational on my path.
Evidently, she was not incredible enough!
8) Writer’s Helping Writer’s is the non-profits motto and they accomplish this every day.
What the heck is this? (This is one step up from illiterate, that’s what this is!)
Corrected: Writers Helping Writers is the nonprofit’s motto, and it accomplishes this every day.
9) Because our team enjoys their work, they are able to infuse that passion and love into their work – and it results in the most beautiful roses.
Rule: Like company, audience, family, and market, “team” is a collective noun, which means it is treated as a singular noun. So, “their” and “they,” which are plural pronouns, are incorrect. Also, I prefer no spaces before or after a dash, but it’s not incorrect. I’m also not too keen on using both “passion” and “love” in the same sentence; it seems a bit redundant. Well, it’s not incorrect.
My take: Our team infuses passion and love into its work—and the result is the world’s most beautiful roses.
10) The BIO 2015 program will cover a wide variety of topics relevant to the biotechnology industry, including: healthcare, intellectual property, environmental issues, business development, and more.
Rule: Do not use a colon after include, includes, or including.

These next five sentences are taken from a website for professional writers; as I recall, the first four sentences were on the same page. There’s a word for professional writers who post content like this, and that word is sloppy. Actually, “sloppy” isn’t really harsh enough, since their raison d’etre is to get paid while making basic mistakes like these. How ’bout dishonest.

11) Members should feel free to add friends, as long as they fit into and are appraised of these guidelines.

Wrong word. What the writer was looking for was “apprised.”

12) You are among friends and contemporaries here, please be polite, considerate and respectful of the questions and opinions shared.

Comma splice alert! There are a couple of different options here, but I think my top choice would have been a semicolon after “here.”
Plus, don’t you think that “polite,” “considerate,” and “respectful” all pretty much mean the same (darned) thing? Why is it necessary to use all three? Yuck!

13) It is a spirited group with many different perspectives being brought to the discussion, and in the spirit of remaining fair, and to keep a civil tone within the group, we ask that members adhere to the following guidelines;

Ouch. What’s that semicolon doing there? You need a colon in front of a list (which is what follows).
Plus, why would anyone used “spirited” and “spirit” in the same sentence? Double yuck!

14) His UNCTV show, “In the Garden” just completed it’s 11th season.

Huge, unforgivable mistake: it’s its, not it’s.
Plus, no comma after “show” if he has more than one show; or, if he just has that one show, you need a comma after “Garden.”
Plus, you know something? Just by looking at the “UNCTV” acronym and knowing it’s a “show,” I’d bet money that there should be a hyphen between UNC and TV. I went and looked and, guess what? It is UNC-TV. Wow, this is just inexcusable.

15) Provide water for the speaker’s podium.

A “podium” is a raised platform, like a stage or a dais; the word I think the writer was looking for was lectern, which is a stand where (some) speakers place their notes. I never use notes—notes are for wimps.

Commonly misused words: Complement versus compliment.

Words that are spelled differently but pronounced the same are called homonyms. My recently published Self-Editing titles (for the Successful Student, the Modern Author, and Content Writers) contain a comprehensive list of hundreds of homonyms. Some homonyms, like gorilla and guerrilla, are so far apart in meaning that they are not often misused. Others, like peak/peek/pique or counsel/council, can be confusing. The problem is that the spell-check function of your computer will generally not catch an error that involves using a real word, but not the right word, so you have to know the difference.

I saw these two sentences on two websites last night, so I decided it’s time for a refresher.

When using these ads to compliment an inbound marketing campaign, you will drive more customers back to your website, offer or product.

All you need to do when you’re almost ready to publish those blog posts or online articles is find relevant and complimentary content.

Both of these sentences misspelled complement.

To compliment someone is to say something nice about that person: “Wow, you really know your punctuation and grammar!”

When something is offered at no charge, it’s complimentary: The crowd was enthusiastic about the complimentary sushi.

However, when you are talking about something that is compatible, that “goes” with something else, you spell it complement. Complement with an “e” also means the completeness of a workforce: The inbound marketing firm had trouble finding a full complement of competent content creators.

The way I remember the distinction is to think of the “i” spelling and say “‘I‘ compliment you.” Once I made that beachhead in my memory, the other word and its meaning was easier. If that works for you, great. If not, figure out what does.

Need help with content editing? Please give EditNATION.com owner Liz Coursen a call at 941-706-2463.

 

When writing an article about how much to pay a writer to write content, here’s WHAT NOT TO DO!

When you write an article, you are asserting that you have a great deal of experience, authority, and credibility about the subject matter. I think that’s a pretty unassailable statement. When you write an article about writing an article and your article has a number of punctuation and grammar mistakes in it, you lose your credibility. I mean—splat! But! When you write and publish an article about how to hire someone else to write an article, make sure you don’t have a bunch of mistakes in your writing: nothing will make you look like an idiot faster!
Here are a few choice sentences from this little gem!
1) Now, well let’s explore some options.
“Now, well” makes no sense.
2) The average per-word writers generally charge in a range more like 4c-8c a word, depending on the difficulty of the piece or what level of expertise it requires.
What does this mean? “Generally charge in a range more like…” makes no sense. Also, when displaying a range, use a dash, not a hyphen. And, why would someone abbreviate the word “cents”?
3) So, how do you know you’re getting a fair price on your website content? Well, a lot of it simply depends on what you want out of the bargain. Creating content that atracts visitors isn’t a easy job, if it was everyone would be creating content and there would be no need for content marketplaces.
Here’s a sentence with three—three!—mistakes in it! Let’s ignore the shaky first two sentences and look at the third sentence of this paragraph:

Creating content that atracts visitors isn’t a easy job, if it was everyone would be creating content and there would be no need for content marketplaces.

a) It’s attracts, not atracts.
b) It’s an easy job, not a easy job.
c) This is a great example of a comma splice. I’d suggest splitting the sentence in two: Creating content that attracts visitors isn’t an easy job. If it was, everyone would be creating content and there would be no need for content marketplaces.

4) You can often negotiate deals with quality writers, even if at this point prices may approach magazine rates, in the $80-$100+ range for 600-800 word articles.
Again, when you want to illustrate a range, use a dash. When you want to illustrate hard-and-fast, unchangeable numbers, like a Social Security number or a telephone number, use a hyphen.

The other problem with this sentence is that the writer has included an aside, what’s called “parenthetical” information, when he talks about the price range. Parenthetical information that’s inside a sentence (as opposed to the end) is information that can be completely removed from the sentence and the sentence still makes sense, and must be enclosed by a pair of commas, dashes, or parentheses, depending on its importance. Since this writer is trying (and failing) to establish himself as an “insider,” I’d go with parentheses. The sentence would be correct, though not great, if it looked like this:

You can often negotiate deals with quality writers, even if at this point prices may approach magazine rates (in the $80-$100+ range) for 600-800 word articles.

What you can’t do is what he did, and just use one comma.

Okay, so this person suggested Zerys and Textbroker as sources for content. Let’s take a quick look at these two sources. As it happens, problematic content was easy to find on both sites.

Textbroker.
1) This document goes over step by step how improving the flow of the document can make it significantly more readable – – without even changing the content.
This is a double hyphen. Two hyphens do not a dash make!

2) Our exclusive lessons, exercises and cheat sheets are based in the most common errors our editors see at each level so that all authors can learn what they need to do to advance and start earning more money.
Um, do you mean “based on”?
3) As a member of a young team working in a friendly work environment and, you will be able to present your ideas and make an impact within the company.
Ooops! Somebody forgot to take out that first “and.”
4) We take into account a number of factors, including, among others, the length of the text, amount of research necessary, HTML tagging, and keyword requirements.
Wow. What’s “among others” (and the pair of commas) doing there?
5) a) Additional content services available (e.g. photo integration)
b) Start-to-finish project management that includes finding and managing authors, creating author instructions, proofreading, and all other content-related tasks (i.e. image research or administrating your blog)
See, these are two of the many remarkable, amazing, hang-on-to-your-hat benefits of the “managed” service, which starts at $2500. Well, here’s the deal: “e.g.” and “i.e.” are always followed by a comma. I mean, gee, there are no exceptions.
Also, and finally, Textbrokers, listen up: it’s eBay, not ebay.

A quick look around Zerys revealed similar mistakes:
1) No need to purchase bid credits-get unlimited access to writing jobs
That’s a hyphen and you need a dash.
This is from its “Be a Better Writer Blog”:
2) They can, in fact, do just that- -if you know how to make them compelling.
Zerys follows the Textbroker school of thought that two hyphens equal a dash. Sloppy!
3) Following most inbound strategies, a prospective lead will take an interest in a bit of information you put on the web, and then follow a trail to learn more. When they reach the landing page for your white paper, they have to take a second and choose to enter their information in exchange for that white paper, and that is not a small decision to make.
Question: What does “they” in the second sentence refer to? If you said “a prospective lead,” congratulations. However, you can’t gender neutral a singular noun by using a plural pronoun. This is wrong. (The text could have started with “prospective leads,” but it didn’t.)
4) A hastily-produced white paper will waste your time and cost you valuable leads.
Huge mistake. Never hyphenate an —ly adverb.

Stick a fork in me. I don’t need to read any more.

Bottom line: Here we had a professional content writer who can’t write recommending two writing companies that can’t write, or, at the very least, had some sloppy content that was obvious after a very cursory reading.
Do I want to write a bunch of content on demand? Nope. But what I do want is all these people who are running around calling themselves “thought leaders” to do their jobs better. To take their writing more seriously. To take a “deep dive” into the English language and do a better job. To be professional.

That’s not too much to ask.