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Monday, June 17, 2013

Pobody's Nerfect #4 - Common Spelling Errors

Have you ever seen a lovely hand-painted sign on a house or cabin and just cringed because of an incorrect apostrophe? It happens to me often - especially at this time of year when we visit lakes and see the beautifully decorated but incorrectly spelled signs announcing the owners of a particular cottage:

The Brown's

The Smith's

The Johnson's

Oh, dear. If you're thinking of ordering such a homemade sign, please check the spelling abilities of your painter before you place the order. Unless the sign ends with a description of what is owned by the individuals inside - such as The Browns' Cabin or The Smiths' Refuge. Otherwise, it should simply say The Browns or The Smiths - as in The Browns (the members of the Brown family) live here.

And here's a good word for you. Yuck. Or is it Yuk? In editing a document recently, I came across the author's word, 'Yuck.' It caused me to grab my dictionary and check for the proper spelling, since I had always spelled this word 'Yuk' in informal conversations. It turns out the word can be spelled either way, but I opted for 'yuck' in this case because the word without the 'c' has commonly been used in connection with comedy - as in Yuk Yuks Comedy Club - and that's not the kind of 'yuck' the author intended in the context of that story.

Homemade - This is another word that often causes me problems. I have to look it up every time I use it.

And while we're on the topic, here are some other words I've had to double-check in the dictionary recently:

Double-check. I often want to make it one word with no hyphen. That is incorrect. But since I am aware that this word is on my list of words that I have trouble with, I almost always look it up. (I say almost always because pobody's nerfect, and I make mistakes, too.) That's the key to good writing and good editing - knowing when to use a dictionary or, in my case, ask another great editor who happens to live with you. (Imagine my winking smiley face non-emoticon here.)

Seat belt. It's two words, but I can't seem to keep that detail in my brain. I have to look it up every time. Thank you, again, reliable dictionary.

In-patient versus outpatient. Don't ask me why one of these words is hyphenated and one is not. The English language can be really annoying at times.

Easygoingroller coaster and payback. These are the correct spellings. It's hit-or-miss for me with these phrases, so I grab the Oxford Canadian Dictionary to be sure. We use the first version of the word as it appears in this dictionary.

So that's it for today's mini-spelling lesson.

Happy writing and editing!

Also see my Pobody's Nerfect blogs #1, #2, and #3.




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