Grammar Giggles – Toco Bell

I looked at this several times before I figured out what was wrong. Then I looked at the actual Taco Bell website to make sure it was wrong and it wasn’t just me thinking that I knew what it was supposed to be. Then I just shook my head (which I do with a whole lot of these Grammar Giggles).

Locos Tocos                          Locos Tacos

Semicolons Help Keep The Flow . . . Ommmmm . . .

I must admit, semicolons are one area of grammar that scare me. I’m not sure why, but they do. That shows how much researching and writing these posts helps me as much as they hopefully help you.  Now on to our topic.

The semicolon is a mark of punctuation to be used when you want to connect two thoughts that are similar to one another. The best description I’ve seen is that a semicolon is like a soft period which separates the thoughts but keeps the flow of the first sentence.

Here are some rules for using semicolons:

  • With two independent clauses when the coordinating conjunction (and, but, or, or nor) is omitted to separate the clauses. One way to tell is when you could delete the semicolon and each clause could be a separate sentence. However, if the clauses are not closely related, go ahead and make them separate sentences.
  • Use a semicolon between two independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction where you want a stronger break between the clauses.
  • When one or both of the independent clauses have internal commas and it could be misread without a semicolon to make it easier for your reader.
  • When independent clauses are separated by transitional expressions. Again, the second clause should be able to stand alone as a sentence. Below is a partial list of the transitional clauses:
    • accordingly
    • besides
    • consequently
    • for example (and use a comma after this phrase)
    • furthermore
    • hence
    • however
    • moreover
    • namely (However, if the first clause anticipates the second clause and the full emphasis falls on the second clause, use a colon rather than a semicolon before this word.)
    • nevertheless
    • on the contrary
    • otherwise
    • so (where so means “therefore,” it can be preceded by a comma or a semicolon. A comma should be used if the clauses are closely related and the first clause smoothly flows into the second. A semicolon or period should be used if the clauses are long and complicated or the clauses need a stronger transition between them such as a long pause or strong break.)
    • that is (use a comma after this phrase)
    • then
    • therefore
    • thus
    • yet (see parenthetical for so above)
  • Use a semicolon when items in a series already contain commas to keep from confusing the reader, i.e., Phoenix, Arizona; Denver, Colorado; and Dallas, Texas.

That’s it for now. This is a very busy, emotional, exciting, and gratitude-filled week for me as I leave one job with people I’ve worked with for over 15 years to a job at a brand new firm. How exciting is that going to be? I’m so up for this adventure! But first, as one of my associates said when I gave my notice, “So you’ve given your notice at work, what are you going to do now?” I’m going to Disneyland–with my daughter and my two oldest granddaughters celebrating their 13th birthdays. Enjoy your week!

 

Grammar Giggles – Surgery??

Here is the first page of a court document floating around on Twitter. I’m pretty sure it should say “back” surgery, but I suppose the other detail fits so I could be wrong. This is another example of just how important it is to actually read something before it is filed.

Surgery

Grammar Giggles – Some States Should NOT Allow Mexican Food Restaurants

A friend visiting Ohio sent me a picture of the menu at a Mexican restaurant there. Living in Arizona, Mexican food is a staple and I’ve read lots of Mexican food menus in my lifetime. I’ve never seen anything like this and as much as I love jalapeno poppers, I don’t think I’d try them at a place that calls them “jalapeno pooppers.”

Ohio Mexican Food

Grammar Giggles – Congratul . . .

One would think that when there is a word that is difficult for lots of people to spell correctly, you would look it up to confirm the correct spelling before you put it on a public sign.

Congratulations

Here a Resource, There a Resource, Everywhere a Resource

The best way to improve your proofreading skills is practice. But there are other resources available to help you learn or refresh your knowledge of grammar to improve your proofreading. Here are resources that I use regularly:

help-button

1.  The Gregg Reference Manual. (Available at www.amazon.com). This book is always on my desk (AND on my Kindle app) and is the first place I go when I need information. There are also some worksheets available if you really want to get your “learning” on.

2.  A dictionary. With all that is available online, there is no reason to misspell a word or not know what the word means. In addition, http://www.merriam-webster.com/ not only will define a specific word for you but gives you a word of the day and various quizzes to help you improve your vocabulary. There is always a hard copy dictionary as well. Every desk should have access to a dictionary–either book form or electronically.

3.  A thesaurus. I use the one that is part of Microsoft Word, particularly when I’m not sure whether the word being used is correct, such as affect/effect. It also helps if you’re not familiar with a word to make sure that it is being used in the correct context.

4.  Black’s Law Dictionary (or a more portable legal dictionary). I have a Barron’s Law Dictionary on my desk so I can prove to an attorney that it is statute of limitationS (among other legal words) or to look up a legal term that I don’t understand.

5.  Microsoft spell checker and grammar checker. While this is certainly not the “do all be all” of grammar, it can be helpful. Just don’t rely on Microsoft. As great as the Word program is, sometimes the operator has issues all his/her own. For instance, I have a terrible problem typing doe snot instead of does not. Since both doe and snot are correctly spelled, it doesn’t come up as an error. If I didn’t actually read the document, that kind of error would not be caught. The grammar checker can also be helpful but, again, is not enough.

6.  Websites. There are lots of websites, blogs, and other online information available. As with all things Internet, however, the authors of these websites and blogs are not incapable of making errors, so get the information and check it against another resource if necessary. My personal favorite is Grammar Girl (http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/). Some other fun sites I have found are Grammar Bytes (http://www.chompchomp.com/) and Grammar Slammer (http://englishplus.com/grammar/), although I’m sure there are plenty of others out there. Of course, I hope Proof That Blog (http://proofthatblog.com/) is on YOUR list of resources.

That’s my short list. What is on your go to list of proofreading resources?

 

Grammar Giggles – Memorial Day!

Today I’ll start with thanks and undying gratitude for all those who serve our country so we can be free. I cherish my freedom and am thankful to all members of the armed services who make that available to me, including my dad, who served in Korea.

Now, since it’s Monday, here is another Grammar Giggle from a Twitter post. Enjoy your Memorial Day celebrations–just don’t do anything e-leagle!

e-leagle

Grammar Giggles – Speaking of Looking Pretty . . .

In keeping with the theme of the blog post this week, sometimes it isn’t that something is misspelled, it is all the details of a picture that make the difference.

Arse

Accurate AND Pretty!

Pretty

Proofreading isn’t only about grammar, it’s also about how your document looks. Granted, grammar is most important because if someone tries to read your document and it is full of mistakes, they will either quit reading, get their red pen out and make corrections to send back to you, hang it on the company bulletin board with errors circled, email it to their friends, make it a Grammar Giggle, or just think that you must not be very smart or you don’t care very much. None of those options are good. If your document is grammatically perfect but has other issues in the way it looks, it will still be a problem. Here are some things to look for to make sure your accurate document is also pretty:

  • Is the document evenly spaced throughout or does it go from double to exactly 24 in different paragraphs?
  • Does the size of your font change? This is harder to see when it is only one point off, but if you highlight the paragraph and look in your toolbar, if it doesn’t match, the font size will be blank.
  • Are footnotes all the same font size and same line spacing (including any spacing before and after the footnote)?
  • In numbered paragraphs, are numbers consecutive? Check both paragraph numbers and numbered items or lists inside paragraphs.
  • Are margins the same throughout the document?
  • Are paragraphs justified or not? Whatever the preference is is fine, just make sure all paragraphs are the same.
  • Are headings actually centered? Check to make sure your indentation is flush with the left and right margins.
  • Are headings all the same style? If your first headings are in all caps, make sure all headings at the same level are in all caps.
  • Are the caption, signature, and service list all correct? In our office, we have a “caption” file set up on the system that, theoretically, a drafter would use to start a document so all of that information is correct. Realistically, attorneys often grab another document from the system and start there, so if things have changed, it may not be reflected.
  • In a letter, is the date correct? Again, with authors grabbing another letter on the system as a base, the date could be days, months, or even years old.
  • Does the salutation match the inside address?

It isn’t difficult to make sure your document is accurate and looks good. That is the impression you want to give the reader, isn’t it? What specific areas do you have to watch to make sure good work product goes out the door? Leave a comment so others can learn from you too!