Trouble Times Four

Over the years I have found that having a gimmick to remember things works well for me. I’d like to share some of them to help you choose the right form of these four sets of words that cause many people grief. 

  1. their, they’re, there
  2. your, you’re
  3. its, it’s
  4. lets, let’s

First the three kinds of their/there/they’re.

They’re = they are. We use they’re when we mean the short way of saying “they are.”

They’re my best friends.

They’re is correct because you could say, “They are” in place of they’re.”

***

Their = owning something

That is their new red car.

This word is often misspelled, so remember that it has the word the at the beginning (THEir).

***

There = Not here, but over there, farther away. The word “there” has “here” in it.

If you think of it as “not here,” you will always remember how to spell there and which one is the correct form of “there/they’re/their.

There is a plant in the pot.

The plant is over there, in the pot.

***

You’re = you are

You’re the one for me. Use you’re if you can replace the word with you are.

***

Your = ownership. Think of our (belongs to us), and so your (which has “our” in it) belongs to you.

Your mother loves you.

***

It’s = it is

If you can replace it’s with it is, then you have the correct form of its/it’s.

It’s a beautiful day.

***

Its – belonging to “it”

The car stood with its door open. (The door belongs to the car.)

***

Let’s = let us (the apostrophe takes the place of the letter “u.”

Let’s go to the dance.

***

Lets – allows

I’ll come if my mom lets me.

***

Let’s hope that this post helps make life easier for you and lets you write with more confidence.

It’s easy to see its benefits once you start using the correct words.

You’re going to feel your confidence boosted.

Your friends over there will be proud to know that they’re going to have a good writer as their friend.

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Three Sets of Troublesome Words

 

penProbably everyone who ever wrote anything has some words they find troublesome. Here are a few that many people struggle with.

  1.  passed or past

Passed is used when you mean the past tense of the verb to pass (go by, or beyond something).

Past refers to a time that has gone by.

Examples:

I passed a car that was traveling too slowly on the highway.

My great-grandmother passed away when I was a baby (in the past).

She passed (handed out) the exams papers to the students. We all hoped we had passed the exam (passed  beyond the required grade).

Neither of us wanted to talk about our past (time gone by).

It was already past the hour (the time) when we usually went to sleep. We hadn’t realized how quickly the time had passed (gone by).

It does get tricky. You can be in a car that has passed a bicycle. That means you have gone past the bicycle. Yikes!!! Hang in there. It does make sense. Your car did the action of passing the bicycle and you went past the bicycle (to a point beyond it).

That was a tricky one. The next ones should be easier.

2. advice or advise, and

3. affect or effect

Advice is the noun and advise is the verb. I will also add the use of affect (a verb) and effect (usually a noun, but can be used as a verb).

Examples:

Long ago when the Captain and I were in a pub and a couple at the next table invited us to play shuffleboard with them, I said I had never played it before. The man came over to me, draped his arm over my shoulder and placed his hand on the back of my hand as I held one of the “pucks,” meaning to guide my hand as I slid the puck.

“Let me give you some advice (noun),” he said.

At this point the captain came over and said to the man, “I advise (verb) you to take your hands off her.”

This had the desired effect (noun) and the man moved away. How did this affect (verb) the rest of the game? Not at all. If you want to effect (here it is a verb) change, sometimes you have to speak up to get the effect (noun) you want. It need not affect (verb) the mood in the room at all.

Whew! That was hard work. I think I need to go LIE (not LAY) down.

 

 

 

 

Lay or Lie

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Do you have trouble knowing the correct form of lay or lie to use in your writing?

Why not copy and paste this chart? Print it out either with your printer or by hand, onto a piece of paper that you can keep handy by your desk for a quick reference.

A quick version of how “lie” and “lay” are used with the pronoun “I.”

To Lie (down)

I lie (present)

I lay (preterite)

I have lain (present perfect)

I am lying (present continuous)

 

To Lay (to set an object down)

I lay (present)

I laid (preterite)

I have laid (present perfect)

I am laying (present continuous)

 

To Lie (tell an untruth)

I lie (present)

I lied (preterite)

I have lied (present perfect)

I am lying (present continuous)

For more about lay and lie, you can check out my post from a year ago:

https://annelisplace.wordpress.com/2016/12/16/lie-lady-lie/

Good work! Now have a cookie.

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Your Reputation as a Writer

Are you a writer? Do you care about your writing?

Are you satisfied to publish your work for the world to see, when the quality of your writing is less than perfect? Sadly, some writers don’t care, but believe me, readers care.

Not many writers have flawless manuscripts.  Creativity and the mechanics of writing don’t always go together. Working with a good copy-editor  is essential.

I am a writer and a copy-editor–a good one, I think–and still, before I publish anything, I have another writer read my work and then I hire a copy-editor to read it again. I am always amazed at what they find.

I could read my own words over ten times and not see a mistake, but when I read someone else’s words, any mistakes would leap off the page at me. Why is that?

An author knows what their sentences are going to say. Our brain tricks us into thinking that those words are there, and, especially if we are reading silently, we tend to gloss over errors. When reading someone else’s work, we don’t know what is coming, so we see the mistakes more easily.

Why should you care if your writing is perfect or not?

Readers buy books expecting quality for the money they pay. As a writer, it is your obligation to give them your best.  It is a matter of pride and reputation. Do you want to be known as a good writer, or a sloppy one? Do you only want to publish a “one-hit wonder” and never write again? Would you want people to “wonder” why you bothered to publish that carelessly written “one hit”?

I’ve heard many readers say, “When I see one mistake, okay, I can overlook it, but when there is another and another, I lose track of the story and find myself just looking for that next mistake.” What a horrible thing for someone to say about your book. But so true!

When I skim over the first few pages of a book to see if I want to read it, I usually find bits of dialogue to see how that is written. If it has complicated dialogue tags, such as “inquired, responded, answered, replied, questioned,” and “shouted,” instead of “said” and “asked,” I move on to look for another book. Dialogue tags should be like punctuation–important, but not “in your face.”

I look for correct usage of ordinary words such as “its, it’s, your, you’re, their, there,” and “they’re.” I look for incorrect capitalization of “mom, dad, spring, summer, fall, winter, north, south, east, west, sir, madam, heaven, hell,” and many other words. (Note that “Mom and Dad” would be capitalized, but “my mom and my dad” would not be.)

In a short sample of writing, I can usually tell whether the work has been copy-edited or not.

Yes, it costs to have work copy-edited, but the price is not unreasonable. Your reputation hangs on the quality of your writing, and once the work is cleaned up, it will stay that way forever. Unedited work also stays that way and your damaged reputation as a careless writer could follow you around forever too.

Copy-editors  do much more than correct those examples I’ve given. They will check:

  • your sentences for balance to make sure your verbs match the subject
  • if you’ve omitted or repeated words or information
  • grammar
  • punctuation
  • spelling, including homonyms
  • hyphenation
  • capitalization
  • extra spaces
  • verb tense and usage, especially for problem verbs such as “lie, lay, laid, lain”
  • point-of-view errors
  • clichés, and many other errors you may have inadvertently made.

Please visit my website and click on the page for copy-editing if you are interested in having a few pages of your work copy-edited for free.

http://www.anneli-purchase.com

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Troublesome Expressions

As a copy editor, I come across many expressions that writers use incorrectly. The list of troublesome words and expressions could fill many pages, so I have chosen a few that many writers struggle with. I have not dealt with lay and lie, which are particularly problematic. These verbs have been dealt with in an article all to themselves under the title Lie, Lady, Lie.

Advice/advise

Advice is the noun. I give advice. Advise is the verb. I advise you to take my advice.

Affect, effect

Affect is the verb. Effect is the noun, but it can be used as a verb as well.

How does this change affect you?

What effect does it have on you?

By working together we can effect (bring about) some changes.

Aggravate

This word means to make worse, not to annoy or to anger.

Alright

The proper term is all right. I see alright used frequently, especially by American writers, but that spelling is best avoided.

Amount, number

Amount is for a mass. Number is for countable items.

Anyways, anywheres, everywheres, nowheres, somewheres

These are non-standard forms. Drop the “s.”

Awhile, abit, alot

Two words — a while, a bit, and a lot.

Between, among

Between is used with two people (This is between John and me). Among is used for three or more (We’ll divide the food among the townspeople).

Breath, breathe

Breath is the noun and breathe is the verb.

Someday, I will breathe my last breath.

Continual, continuous

Continual means again and again, while continuous means ongoing.

I could care less.

Usually the writer means the opposite of what this sentence says. Most likely, what is meant is I couldn’t care less.

Envelop, envelope

Envelop means to wrap around. Envelope is the folder you put a letter in.

I will envelop you in my arms when you give me the envelope with the money in it.

Less, fewer

Just as with amount and number, less is used for a mass (an amount) and fewer is used for something countable.

Loath, loathe

Loath is the adjective. Loathe is the verb.

I was loath to do the dishes because I loathe that job.

Of

Not necessary after the prepositions inside, off, and outside.

Incorrect as a substitute for have, as in would have, could have, and should have.

Reason why

Usually there is no need for the why.

True facts

Facts are always true, so true facts has no real meaning. Just use the word facts by itself.

Very

In most cases, very is easily omitted and not missed.

With regards to

What the writer usually means is with regard to. This expression is often not necessary, only adding wordiness to the writing, but when written as with regards to, it sounds as if the writer is adding a greeting to someone.

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Lie, Lady, Lie!

“Lay, Lady, Lay” is one of my favourite songs from the olden days, but it uses terrible grammar.  I can accept the bad grammar because it comes under the “poetic license” umbrella, but if the lyrics were part of a novel, they would make me shudder.

I once  came across a sentence in a novel that said, “Ruth is laying on the bed.” Ruth is a woman, not a chicken, so I wondered what she was laying. In another chapter, “George laid on the bed.” For sure, George is not a chicken, but the writer doesn’t tell us what he laid on the bed.

Now if the author had said “Ruth is laying out her clothes on the bed,” or “George laid his suitcase on the bed,” that would make more sense. Unfortunately, as I read on, I realized that the author meant to say, “Ruth is lying on the bed,” and “George lay on the bed.”

The misuse of the verbs “to lie” and “to lay” is one of the most common errors made by authors. A large percentage of books I have read contain this error. It could be avoided so easily, but when an author misuses these verbs, it can take the pleasure out of reading an otherwise well-written novel.

Why does the verb “to lie” give writers so much trouble? Why didn’t the authors have their work copy-edited before rushing out to publish it?

To be fair to the authors, I’ve noticed that in many cases, the novels were published by traditional publishing houses who employ their own copy-editors. Surely, they should have caught these mistakes. However, the errors could have been avoided if the writers had a better grasp on their use of English grammar and had not made these mistakes in the first place.

In my copy-editing work I often come across the misuse of the verbs “to lie” and “to lay,” so I know it’s a widespread problem. I also know that authors could avoid it with a little effort on their part.

My advice to authors is to find a chart online or in a grammar book, and copy it. Then pin it on your bulletin board or tape it to your desk. The conjugation of the verb “to lie” can be found easily enough on the Internet. One of many sites is http://conjugator.reverso.net/conjugation-english-verb-lie.html. On this page you can type any verb into the space at the top and click on “conjugate” and the whole page will be filled with the cases of the verb in question.

For a quick version of how “lie” and “lay” are used with the pronoun “I,” here are some examples:

To Lie (down)

I lie (present)

I lay (preterite)

I have lain (present perfect)

I am lying (present continuous)

To Lay (to set an object down)

I lay (present)

I laid (preterite)

I have laid (present perfect)

I am laying (present continuous)

To Lie (tell an untruth)

I lie (present)

I lied (preterite)

I have lied (present perfect)

I am lying (present continuous)

There is no need for a writer to misuse the verbs “to lie” and “to lay.” If you have trouble with these verbs, referring to your chart will save you from making mistakes that undermine your writing abilities.

I am not lying when I tell you that once you have studied these verbs and have a reference chart pinned up, you won’t have to lay down your pen and give up writing so you can “Lie, Lady, Lie,” lie across your big brass bed to rest your aching, verb-befuddled head.

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Why You Need a Copy Editor

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You start reading a book and are just getting into it when you notice a repeated word. Oh well, you shake your head and continue. On the next page you find the verb “to lie” misused, and you feel irritated. Still, it’s a good story and you want to find out what happens, so you continue. Then you see glaring punctuation mistakes in the dialogue. At this point you begin to wonder if the author knows anything about writing. You had hoped at first that they were just typos,  but repeated errors and misused words (such as “peek” instead of “peak”) now have you wondering if you can stand to read a whole book of this quality no matter how enthralling the plot is.

As an author, I would be embarrassed to publish something like this, but often we can’t see our own mistakes. On re-reading our work, our brain tells us that the words say what we intended. Our eyes gloss over the  errors because, we already know what it says–we think! This is why all authors need a good copy-editor. Our  reputation hinges on publishing good, clean writing.

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Most writers like to feel confident that their written work is free of errors. The truth is that often they are too close to their work to notice the errors that may be there.

Would you submit your work for approval if you knew that rejection was imminent? You can avoid that rejection by hiring me to proofread and edit your work.

What I Can Do for You   

Whether you have written a newspaper or magazine article, children’s book, short story, novel, or a university textbook, I can help you to make that work perfect.

I will read your work, checking for correct spelling, punctuation, grammar, balance in verb tenses, and word usage.  I will verify cross-referenced material and look for any inconsistencies in your work.

I use the Track Changes feature in Word to point out errors. This gives you the option of accepting or rejecting my suggestions without jeopardizing your original work.

If you wish, I can make recommendations for alternate wording to remedy awkward phrasing. If you need help in writing down your ideas, I can do that. I will edit your work unobtrusively.

I am comfortable and competent in editing work that is interspersed with German, French, and Spanish, including bibliographies that may contain foreign titles.

How to Send Me Your Work

You can send me your work as an email attachment, preferably as a Word file.

My Rates 

(US) $.01 per word for complete proofreading and copy-editing, checking for grammar, punctuation, word usage, and inconsistencies. I will do three pages for free so you can see the quality of my work before you decide if you’d like to hire me.

Rates are negotiable depending on the job. Discounts available for greater word counts.

Contact Information 

Anneli Purchase

Email: anneli.purchase33@gmail.com

Qualifications

  • 25 years of teaching
  • 19 years experience with copy-editing, as well as writing and editing novels and articles
  • Have attended creative writing workshops and conferences
  • Have edited university-level books and articles in Ancient History as well as in the Sciences
  • Can translate from German to English and have a good basic knowledge of French and Spanish
  • Will re-write work for you if desired
  • Can suggest changes to improve your writing if that is what you would like
  • Have a keen eye for grammar, word usage, spelling, punctuation and balance in verb tenses
  • References available

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*** Don’t forget to check out my other blog for stories and photos. Anything goes, on “wordsfromanneli.”

http://wordsfromanneli.wordpress.com