Here's the third instalment of Pobody's Nerfect, my ongoing list of common typos and errors that we see in manuscripts and published works. Some of these errors are ones that I have made and continue to make - thus the Pobody's Nerfect title. The human brain is a stubborn creature of habit at times and we are all flawed, so we need to get over it and do our best to keep our errors at a minimum, and our consistency in writing at a maximum.
Pay attention to the errors you routinely make. They are easier to spot and correct that way.
Since the stories I write and the books we publish are primarily for Canadian audiences, we use the Oxford Canadian Dictionary and Canadian Press Caps and Spelling as our resources. In general, we use the first version of a word shown in the dictionary. Thus, we use 'instalment' instead of the 'two-l' version 'installment' that is 'also' acceptable in the Oxford Canadian Dictionary.
So here we go with more common typos and errors:
- storey versus story. A house has two storeys. A book is a story.
- your versus you're. Your is the possessive, describing something that belongs to you. You're is the contraction of 'you are', with the apostrophe taking the place of the letter 'a' in you are. You're the writer of this sentence about your life.
- site versus sight. Site is a location - a place you visit physically or on the Internet. (With today's text messaging, Twitter and other methods aimed at shortening language, it is easy to make this mistake.) A sight has several meanings including the act of seeing or something you saw with your eyes. The site of the plane crash was a sight for my eyes.
- to versus too. Both words have several meanings, which does make their correct usage even more confusing. These are two examples: The preposition 'to' is used to express what is reached, as in, 'We are going from here to the school.' The adverb 'too' is often used to state 'to a greater extent than is desirable' or to state 'in addition, also' - as in, 'There are too many people going with you but I want to go, too.'
This brings up another common error which may be disputed by other editors and writers. I prefer that a comma be inserted before the word 'too'. Some editors think a comma is unnecessary. So why don't you choose your method, be consistent in your use of it, then see what your editor prefers?
And finally, my Pobody's Nerfect Correction of the Day.
One particular job title that seems to be popular in our region of the country - but is inaccurate - is that of 'Volunteer Coordinator'. This job title refers to the individual who coordinates the folks who volunteer for that organization. Since this is a full-time paid position (I have to look 'full-time' up in the dictionary every time I use it) and not a volunteer position, it would be more accurate - and I suggest more appealing to potential staff - to rename that job title as 'Coordinator of Volunteers'. What do you think?
So there you have it for now.
Happy writing and editing!
See Pobody's Nerfect #4 post.