Tom Cruise and the Suspended Hyphen!

What a terrific example of the suspended hyphen rule, compliments of The New York Times:

The older Tom Cruise gets, the more fun it is to watch him risk death in elaborate age- and gravity-defying ways.

Yours in Good Grammar: “Breakthrough”

Yours in good grammar: The Space Makes the Case!

A “breakthrough” is defined as “a significant or sudden advance, development, or achievement that removes a barrier to progress; a person’s first success.”

“Breakthrough” is one of a group of words, like cleanup, login, setup, and standout, that is one word as a noun or adjective, but changes to two words when it is used as a verb. It can be tricky, so when you use a word like “breakthrough,” take a moment to decide whether you mean the concept of a “breakthrough” as a noun or adjective, or as “breaking through” in an active, verb sense.

A trick I’ve found that works is to ask yourself if you can add “a” or “the” in front of one of these words or one of these words combined with another; if so, it’s the one word noun or adjective. If you can add “need to” in front of the word, it’s actually the two-word verb. Take a look:

Noun: The nomination marks a major breakthrough.

Adjective: It was a real breakthrough moment.

Verb phrase:

I will break through to a new level this year.

I am breaking through to a new level this year.

At the conference, she broke through her fear.

This chapter has broken through to national prominence.

Problematic WordPress copy with answers, Part I.

These sentences are part of the 52-sentence group I pulled from a local “WordPress expert’s” site. I’m all for WordPress, and I understand that it’s “open source, ” etc., etc., etc., and that lots and lots of very cool people have flocked to the WordPress banner, but all too often these same people can’t write their way out of a paper sack. Moral of the story: Write your own content and get it edited by a professional. This content would make an eighth-grader blush.

Read on. More to come.

1. If you don’t see any times that works for you, you’ll be able to send us a direct message so we can coordinate and get you scheduled.

“…times that work…”

2. Schedule a 30 minute discovery call with us (for free!).

Hyphen between 30 and “minute” to modify “discovery.”

3. What you’re NOT doing is focusing your time and energy on creating new content and products for your community (aka: doing what you love!)

Where’s the period? And let’s stop capitalizing words for emphasis. If the word isn’t in a title, use italics for emphasis.

4. I love web design and development and I have been working with WordPress since it’s early conception.

Geez! Baby mistake! It’s for its. Get this right or go home. Plus, it’s a run-on sentence. Yucky all around.

5. I’ve experienced the ups and downs, trials and tribulations, of the startup world and I have gather useful strategies and procedures to help others gain success with their projects.

You have “gather”? I think not!

6. When I’m free, I like to go on bike rides, enjoy the beach and every once in awhile, catch a nice wave. 

Anybody ever tell you the difference between awhile (an adverb) and a while (a noun)? Guess not, but Word knew. This “WordPress” guy doesn’t even run his content through spell-check, the most babyish of tools. Plus, not to make a huge deal about it, stick a comma after “and.” There. All nice.

7. [He] was lucky enough to have had an advanced personal computer in his home ever since the first ones hit the market (Take that Generation Y!).

Rule: Lowercase the first word after the first parenthesis, unless it’s a proper noun.

8. [He] has always have had a passion for entrepreneurship and is not shy of working hard.

He “has always have had”? Anybody know the phrase proof read at this shop? Guess not.

9. He’s been through many business ventures and startups and has learned both from hard-knocks and from the success and failures of others first hand.

What’s the hyphen doing there? First you don’t use hyphens when you should, and then you use them when you shouldn’t…the sure sign of somebody who doesn’t know how to use hyphens! Plus, dude, four “ands” in one sentence with no benefit of a comma….Geez!

These sequential sentences feature one of my pet peeves!

10. That’s when she became focused on WordPress and an early adopter of responsive design (responsive design = that magic that makes your site transition seamlessly from full screen to any mobile device or tablet).  But, after a few years on the west coast, Florida was calling her back…and that’s when she met [him] and started focusing on WordPress and freelance web design.

Aaa, that ole “magic”! Yes, indeedy. More like…well, let’s stick to the task at hand. One of the most basic mistakes you can make in your writing is using repetitive words and phrases. There are lots of synonyms for “focus,” and there’s really no reason to use the word in sequential sentences. Plus, “West Coast” should be capitalized for clarity. Sloppy!

11. [Her] first experience with computers was watching (and sometimes helping) her dad build custom PC’s and networking solutions for local businesses in the 80’s and 90’s.

No. This is incorrect. There are several reasons I can think of when you’d need to express the concepts of 80s and 90s.

First, if you are talking about the decades, which, in this case, she is, that’s ’80s and ’90s. The apostrophe tells your readers that there’s something missing to the left of the concept. And watch that apostrophe if your font is directional: it should face out, not in.

Second, if you are referring to ages or temperatures, you should not use an apostrophe anywhere; it’s 80s and 90s.

12. I love seeing the shift in someone when they go from confusion or frustration to empowerment and it fuels all my work.

Lots to look at in this awful sentence! “Someone” is singular, and so has to be “he or she,” but it can’t be “they.” This is also a run-on sentence. Those are punctuation/grammar mistakes. This next is a biggie, and indicates poor writing: What’s the difference between “confusion” or “frustration”? Sure, they are slightly different, but not so different that they need to be in the same sentence. This is one of my pet peeves: equivalencies or near-equivalencies. Since you’re not likely to be “frustrated” without being “confused” first, I’d use “confused” and leave it at that.

13. After initially pursuing a career in music he earned his degree in English and Creative Writing with a minor in Business.

What a liar. Where’d he get his degree, Trump University? And stick a comma after “music,” big boy; that first bit is what’s called an “introductory phrase.” Glad to set you straight.

14. With the website, strategy and business savvy to help you take your business to the next level.

This isn’t a full sentence, and I can’t remember the context, but I do know that “to the next level” is hackneyed and should be banished from every self-respecting writer’s repertoire.

15. On a shoestring budget she built her own e-commerce site and blog for her business, learned about list building and email service providers, managed an active social media presence, and took a deep dive into content strategy and copywriting.

I’m so tired of “deep dive” I could puke.

16. From overwhelm to on fire.

Listen, people, “overwhelm” ain’t no noun! It’s a verb, yes, it’s an adjective, yes, but it ain’t no noun!

17. Your site is built to accommodate your needs, so whether you choose to integrate with LeadPages or create your own in-site sales or landing pages, everything you need is baked right in.

Another cliché! Spare me “baked in,” unless you’re talking about raisins, or, better still, chocolate chips.

18. Running your own business + website can be both incredibly awesome and supremely challenging.

Is there such a thing as “incredibly awesome”? I mean, we aren’t talking about the Divine here, or even Mother Nature. Give me a break! And then to follow by “supremely challenging.” Ugh.

19. One day you can be totally on a roll, cranking out content, ideas, plans and moving them forward. The next you can feel totally stuck or spinning….

Sophomoric writing.

20. “I thought adding this new feature to (or fixing this issue on) my site would be way easier, but now I’m stuck and if I spend another minute googling this sh*& my brain is gonna melt!”

“Way easier”? What are you, 12? Are you marketing to 12-year-olds? Because, if so, the bit about “sh*&” and “gonna melt” is perfect.

21. He was also writing as the editor for a digital magazine startup, and his experience provided an framework of understanding of the hows and whys of tools like editorial schedules and batch editing.

I don’t believe it. I pulled 52 mistakes from these “uber” developers’ website. Fifty two. That’s 52 more than I should have found, for people who claim to have writing degrees and experiences as copy editors and editors. What comes out of a bull?

22. Let’s face it, there’s a time when your favorite entrepreneurs group delivers the exact answer you need, and about a hundred more times when their answers only leave you spinning in circles.

A group is a collective noun, and it’s singular. Period. Which makes the “their” there (say that three times real fast!) flat out wrong.

This writing is really beyond the pale. It’s like, dude, um, you know, over the Styx and through the deep, dark woods into Hell. There is a special circle of hell for people who claim to be professional writers and take other people’s money to write professionally, but who are SLOPPY.

Yay! More quizzes!

Oh, I’m so happy to have my blog back. What an ordeal! Yippee!

Okay, here we have a wonderful, stupendous quiz, featuring material from the same website and, get this, this is a WordPress developer’s website! God only knows what his and her clients’ websites look like!

Oh, as it turns out, there were 52 “problematic” sentences on this site (this one site belonging to WordPress developers, remember); too long for a quiz. Well, this’ll be Part I!

Take a look.

  1. If you don’t see any times that works for you, you’ll be able to send us a direct message so we can coordinate and get you scheduled.
  2. Schedule a 30 minute discovery call with us (for free!).
  3. What you’re NOT doing is focusing your time and energy on creating new content and products for your community (aka: doing what you love!)
  4. I love web design and development and I have been working with WordPress since it’s early conception.
  5. I’ve experienced the ups and downs, trials and tribulations, of the startup world and I have gather useful strategies and procedures to help others gain success with their projects.
  6. When I’m free, I like to go on bike rides, enjoy the beach and every once in awhile, catch a nice wave. 
  7. [He] was lucky enough to have had an advanced personal computer in his home ever since the first ones hit the market (Take that Generation Y!).
  8. [He] has always have had a passion for entrepreneurship and is not shy of working hard.
  9. He’s been through many business ventures and startups and has learned both from hard-knocks and from the success and failures of others first hand.

These sequential sentences feature one of my pet peeves!

  1. That’s when she became focused on WordPress and an early adopter of responsive design (responsive design = that magic that makes your site transition seamlessly from full screen to any mobile device or tablet).  But, after a few years on the west coast, Florida was calling her back…and that’s when she met [him] and started focusing on WordPress and freelance web design.
  2. [Her] first experience with computers was watching (and sometimes helping) her dad build custom PC’s and networking solutions for local businesses in the 80’s and 90’s.
  3. I love seeing the shift in someone when they go from confusion or frustration to empowerment and it fuels all my work.
  1. After initially pursuing a career in music he earned his degree in English and Creative Writing with a minor in Business.
  2. With the website, strategy and business savvy to help you take your business to the next level.
  3. On a shoestring budget she built her own e-commerce site and blog for her business, learned about list building and email service providers, managed an active social media presence, and took a deep dive into content strategy and copywriting.
  4. From overwhelm to on fire.
  5. Your site is built to accommodate your needs, so whether you choose to integrate with LeadPages or create your own in-site sales or landing pages, everything you need is baked right in.

18. Running your own business + website can be both incredibly awesome and supremely challenging.

19. One day you can be totally on a roll, cranking out content, ideas, plans and moving them forward. The next you can feel totally stuck or spinning….

20. “I thought adding this new feature to (or fixing this issue on) my site would be way easier, but now I’m stuck and if I spend another minute googling this sh*& my brain is gonna melt!”

21. He was also writing as the editor for a digital magazine startup, and his experience provided an framework of understanding of the hows and whys of tools like editorial schedules and batch editing.

22. Let’s face it, there’s a time when your favorite entrepreneurs group delivers the exact answer you need, and about a hundred more times when their answers only leave you spinning in circles.