Thursday, June 28, 2012

Should Web Writing Be Formal or Informal?

By Anne Wayman

Recently a reader of my writing blog asked the following (edited for clarity):

What’s your opinion about using you instead of one when you’re writing for the web or for magazines? Some experts, including Grammarly, say it should beone. I think using you is more engaging.

Thanks, Irene.

Here’s how I expect to answer her:

Irene, I agree, generally informal writing is more engaging than formal writing.

To Correct or Not to Correct? How to Instill Strong Language Skills in Children

By Laura Wallis for The Stir by CafeMom

I come from a long line of English teachers on my mother’s side. I remember being corrected on my grammar pretty much as soon as I could speak—for my grandmother, my full grasp of the distinction between “bring” and “take” was as vital as covering my mouth when I yawned. Speaking and writing correctly was just good manners.

These days, though, the school of thought on correcting kids has relaxed somewhat.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What Is “Full Proof?”

You know what fool is? It’s a naive person, someone who lacks good judgment. As you can imagine, a fool would be easily tricked by a clever ruse. Proof is an adjective that means “able to withstand, or invulnerable.” When you combine the two terms, you get foolproof. This adjective means “involving no risk or harm, or never-failing.” In other words, something foolproof would still work even if a fool were operating it.

Friday, June 22, 2012

16 Pieces of Advice From Steve Jobs

I want to put a ding in the universe.

—Steve Jobs

You don’t have to be a fan of iEverything to recognize the tremendous impact Apple has had on technology and business. Steve Jobs led the company he co-founded in 1976 with charisma and an insatiable drive to innovate and succeed. When Jobs died in 2011, he left a legacy that will continue to shape our world for generations.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

How Sally Ride Launched Her Career as the First American Woman in Space

I would like to be remembered as someone who was not afraid to do what she wanted to do, and as someone who took risks along the way in order to achieve her goals.

Did you know May 26 is Sally Ride day?

Sally Ride was an astronaut, physicist, and science educator—and she shattered one of the highest glass ceilings to become the first American woman in space.

Throughout her life she inspired millions and defied gender stereotypes at every turn.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Epistolary Novels, Finding Your Theme, and the Science of Good Writing

Can letter writing teach you how to write a novel? Can your socks help you identify a theme? What do neuroscientists have to say about writing? Find the answers by checking out these links to our favorite stories from around the web this week. Have something you’d like to see us cover here? Let us know in the comment section!

Our Favorite Stories:

  1. Why Writing a Book Through Letters Is Beautiful and Wild (The Guardian)
  2. Theme and the Power of Socks (The Writer)
  3. 6 Scientific Tips to Improve Your Writing (Futurity)

Staff Book Picks of the Week:

The Marvels (Fiction) Brian Selznick

Monday, June 18, 2012

WriteWorld: Writing Tips: Proofreading

I’m currently finishing up a university degree in journalism, and I’ve been doing journalistic work for newspapers and radio alike for some years now. It’s a line of work wherein proofreading is essential. People are paying to read a piece you’ve written, which means you simply…

Read more: WriteWorld: Writing Tips: Proofreading

Thursday, June 14, 2012

We’re Snoring Because Your Poem is So Boring

Welcome to one of our favorite holidays of the year: Bad Poetry Day. August 18 brings with it the license and the freedom to let those terrible sonnets fly.

Sure, many of us remember our high school days when just about any drama would send us scurrying to the page to dash off a few lines. However, the resulting text is not exactly what we mean by bad poetry. Even those stanzas, penned when we were young, were important to us.

Not-So-Sweet 16 Game 7: Passive-Aggressive Notes vs. Loud Music

We’re nearing the end of the Not-So-Sweet 16, and so far, we’ve had some fierce battles over everything from emojis to interrupting your coworkers. But we’re not done yet! Today’s voting presents the last two battles of the season, and they’re both going to be nail-biters.

For this match, we have a classic debate between silent passive aggression and overtly aggressive, loud music.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Funny Phrases: Nip It in the Bud

The phrase nip it in the bud means to stop something before it gets going. You’ve probably heard it used in this way: Nip that bad habit in the bud before it gets out of control!

What does this phrase actually mean? Nip means to remove by pinching, biting, or cutting with two meeting edges of anything; to clip. A bud is a newly formed leaf or flower that has not yet bloomed. To nip something in the bud means to pinch off a newly formed leaf or flower before it has a chance to grow.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Benefited or Benefitted—Which Is Right?

  • Benefited and benefitted are both acceptable spellings.
  • Benefited is more common in the United States.

When you make a verb past tense, sometimes all you have to do is add -ed. Other times, you double the final consonant before adding it. What about the verb benefit? Is the past tense benefited or benefitted?

Benefited vs. Benefitted

The quick answer is that both of them are acceptable.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Train your brain with these 4 spelling tips and tricks

Amateur Something or someone that is amateur is non-professional. If you remember that amateur ends in a fancy French suffix (-eur), you’ll be able to spell this word correctly in both professional and non-professional situations.

Conscientious Conscientious means thorough, careful, or vigilant. If you have a strong conscience, you will be conscientious. You can remember the conscience by breaking it into “con” and “science.” Then the similarities between conscience and conscientious will help you remember the spelling for the latter.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Basics on Subject and Object Pronouns: Answers


1) Martha and Jim are in the office. Correct. 2) She is telling him a joke. Correct. 3) Jim made a copy of the report for Lucy and I. Incorrect. Jim made a copy of the report for Lucy and me. 4) I have to go. Mark is calling for Lucy and me. Correct. 5) Our co-workers love Martha’s cookies. Correct. 6) Jim and me are planning a surprise for Sue’s birthday. Incorrect. Jim and I are planning a surprise for Sue’s birthday.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Rewriting 101: How to Add Clarity to Your Sentences

Have you ever finished writing a sentence only to reread it and be completely baffled at its structure? Sure, the sentence might be technically grammatically correct, but it sounds incredibly awkward. In situations like these, it’s best to step back and try to find a way to rewrite the sentence. For example: When you see your new friend, tell him or her that I said hello.

Although using ‘him or her’ to indicate a person of whose gender you aren’t aware is technically correct, the sentence above sounds formal and would likely come across as awkward in casual conversation.