March 30, 2015
Subject-verb Agreement with Linking VerbsTOPICS: GRAMMAR, SUBJECT VERB AGREEMENT
A sentence like "His greatest source of pride is cars" sounds weird verging on wrong. But there's an easy way to ensure these sentences matching singular and plural things are grammatical.
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Excruciating Differences in Editing StylesPosted by June on March 30, 2015
LABELS: COPY EDITING
Learning copy editing can be hard because there are so many little rules that, in the real world don't matter, but in editing do. For example, in editing, there are strict rules on when to use "that" and "which" that don't apply in the real world. However these words come naturally to you is probably right.
It's even harder when you have to learn two or three different editing styles because the styles can disagree on how you do certain things. Case in point: spacing around dashes. In Chicago editing style, a dash (meaning an em dash or a long dash) should touch the word on either side of it, with no spaces in between. But the Associated Press Stylebook specifies the opposite: a dash should have a space on either side.
Styles also have different rules on the serial comma, also known as the Oxford comma, which is the comma before "and" in a list like "red, white, and blue." Chicago says to include that last comma, but AP's style is to always omit it: "red, white and blue."
But the hardest thing about working in multiple editing styles is that they use different dictionaries as arbiters of all matters not covered in the style guide. As a result, there are countless points on which they could differ and you just can't know what they are until you look them up. "Healthcare"/"health care" is the quintessential example. AP's designated dictionary, Webster's New World College Dictionary, has it as one word. That means you can "healthcare" as a noun or even as an adjective, as in "a healthcare policy." But Merriam-Webster's Collegiate, which Chicago uses, says "health care" is two words. So that's how you write it as a noun. But, in keeping with the hyphenation rules that say to put a hyphen in compound modifiers (think: two-word adjectives), "health-care" does take a hyphen when modifying a noun: a health-care policy.
Maybe someday everyone will be on the same page. Until then, I'll just try to stay sane.
June Casagrande is a writer and journalist whose weekly grammar/humor column, “A Word, Please,” appears in community newspapers in California, Florida, and Texas. more
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