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James' Book or James's Book: Which is Correct?

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Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER


Every Wednesday, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 features handy tips to enhance all of our writing, from daily emails to articles to books. After all, everyone needs to write, right?



Hi Karen,

You may have already addressed this issue, and I apologize for missing it; however, how about the subject of possessives? Particularly in regards to those ending in the letter s and where the apostrophe goes. In other words, is it James’ book or James’s book? Thanks in advance.

Sincerely yours,
Nan Smith



Thanks for your question, Nan. It’s good to revisit this from time to time because editing styles change over the years. 

Let’s start with the easy stuff.

Singular nouns are made possessive by adding an apostrophe and an s.

Examples

dog's bowl
cat’s litter box

And we all know plural nouns not ending in s are made possessive by adding an apostrophe and an s.

Examples

women’s rights
children’s literature

Here’s where it gets more difficult. 

When making plural nouns ending in s poss…

And Now for a Brief Interruption...

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Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER


Every Wednesday, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 features handy tips to enhance all of our writing, from daily emails to articles to books. After all, everyone needs to write, right?





I'm taking the week off. Editing for Grammarphobes will return next  week with the definitive word on possessives.  See you then!

Grammar Giggles

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Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER


Every Wednesday, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 features handy tips to enhance all of our writing, from daily emails to articles to books. After all, everyone needs to write, right?


Labor day is almost here, the symbolic end of summer in the U.S., even though autumnal equinox is a good three weeks away. But, hey, we get a long weekend, so who am I to argue semantics?

Today, we wrap up the season with some fun grammar cartoons. Next week, we'll get back to work and discuss possessives.

Happy Labor Day, everyone!
















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Bio
A professional writer/editor for almost 30 years, Karen Wojcik Berner's wide and varied experience includes such topics as grammar, blog content, book reviews, corporate communications, t…

5 Bits of Writing Wisdom from Strunk and White

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Every Wednesday, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 features handy tips to enhance all of our writing, from daily emails to articles to books. After all, everyone needs to write, right?

Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER



There are many books on writing, but few have the staying power of The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White, commonly referred to as simply "Strunk and White." Originally penned by William Strunk Jr. in 1918 and published by Harcourt in 1920, E.B. White enlarged and revised it in 1959.

In 2011, Time named The Elements of Style one of the best and most influential books written in English since 1923. Of course, there are the naysayers, the ones who argue Strunk and White is outdated and contributed to a paranoia regarding grammar rules, while others, including myself, see it as filled with nuggets of good advice and information that’s worth picking up and re-reading from time to time.

Here are a few writing tips from The Elements of Style.

Page 34: Coll…

Debugging Your Writing

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Every Wednesday, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 features handy tips to enhance all of our writing, from daily emails to articles to books. After all, everyone needs to write, right?
POSTED BY KAREN WOJCIK BERNER



About six years ago, Sue Sommer wrote a handy little book on grammar and spelling based on her experience as a high school Honors English and creative writing teacher. A past winner of the Golden Bell Award for Excellence in Teaching, Sommer also had worked as a magazine editor and proofreader. She knows her stuff. The book, The Bugaboo Review: A Lighthearted Guide to Exterminating Confusion About Words, Spelling, and Grammar, is one of the resources I keep on my desk.
In The Bugaboo Review, Sommer has a page on absolutes, words that cannot have degrees attached to their use, meaning they should be used without adverb modifiers, such as most, very, or quite. Absolutes are the "be all, end all," so to speak. 
"Don't use phrases such as more unique, very favori…

5 Ways to Edit Like a Pro

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Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER


Every Wednesday, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 features handy tips to enhance all of our writing, from daily emails to articles to books. After all, everyone needs to write, right?



You have completed your novel, article, or white paper. Now it's time to put all of your grammatical ducks in a row. I know most of you hate this part, but it is crucial to your success. Nothing is perfect. There will always be some errors; we are human, after all. But, as writers, it is our responsibility to use our tools of the trade correctly. These are just some of the things I do before I hand anything in.

1. Spelling

Do not trust spell check. It often misses homophones, which is one of those mistakes that can make a brilliant storyteller look like a complete moron. Check dialogue and slang terms. Make sure character names are spelled consistently. Double check place names. Be on the lookout for red flag words, as well as common mistakes, such as your/you’re and to/too/tw…

Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0: Etymology Fun

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Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER



Every Wednesday, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 features handy tips to enhance all of our writing, from daily emails to articles to books. After all, everyone needs to write, right?

Fellow word nerds, it's time for an etymology post. Do you know how these words and phrases came to be?





Throw down the gauntlet

A gauntlet is a chain mail glove worn with medieval armor to protect one’s hand. In the days of chivalry and combat, when a gauntlet was thrown to the ground, it meant that knight was challenging his opponent to a fight. If the gauntlet was picked up by the opposing knight, the challenge was accepted.



Palace

According to an interesting blog by the Oxford Royale Academy*, the word palace has its origins from Rome. "It comes from one of Rome’s famous Seven Hills, the Palatine, upon which the emperor resided in what grew into a sprawling and opulent home," according to the blog. It goes on to say that in Latin, the Palatine Hill was called the…