Hi! I’m Kathy Ide. In addition to being a published author, I’m a full-time professional freelance editor. For CAN, I’m blogging about “PUGS”–Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling … tips for writers based on the most common mistakes I see in the manuscripts I edit. These are excerpts from my new book, Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors, which reveal how multi-published authors proofread their manuscripts to avoid typos, inconsistencies, inaccuracies, and PUGS errors. (The book is available from Amazon.) If you’re interested in working with a freelance editor (or know someone who is), e-mail me through the contact page of my website. Or go to the Christian Editor Connection to get referrals to other established, professional editorial freelancers. If you’re a freelance editor yourself, or think you might be interested in that field, check out The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network.
Grammar Myths: Part One
Generations of English teachers have taught students certain rules that are either personal preferences or rules that have changed over time. Here are two examples.
Myth #1. Never split an infinitive. (See CMOS #5.106.)
An “infinitive”is the to form of a verb: to go, to holler, to whisper, to study. “Splitting an infinitive” means to put some word (usually an adverb) between the to and the verb: to quickly go, to loudly holler, to quietly whisper, to avidly study.
Rule of thumb: If it’s just as easy to word something in a way that avoids splitting an infinitive, do so—if for no better reason than because some readers, editors, and proofreaders will fault you if you don’t. However, if doing so interrupts the flow, or makes comprehension difficult or awkward, go ahead and split that infinitive.
Myth #2. Never end a sentence with a preposition. (See CMOS #5.176.)
A “preposition”is a word that connects with a noun phrase to form a modifying phrase. Most prepositions refer to time, space, or position.
across the country
after the movie
at the store
in the room
Many students are taught that prepositions should never come at the end of a sentence. However, the proper ordering of prepositions can sometimes result in sentences that sound awkward, stilted, or pompous.
As a general rule, try to avoid ending sentences with prepositions. But if that’s the only way to avoid sounding strange, then by all means, break the rule. Sometimes a preposition is the best word to end a sentence with.
Next month I will share two more examples of grammar myths.