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. Each blog post will have one tip for each of the four categories. (For more PUGS tips, check out my website, www.KathyIde.com, or get a copy of my book Polishing the PUGS (available through the website or at the conferences where I teach). 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 www.ChristianEditor.com to get referrals to other established, professional editorial freelancers. Or go to www.christianmanuscriptcritique.com if you’d like an overall critique. If you’re a freelance editor yourself, or think you might be interested in that field, check out www.TheChristianPEN.com.


Commas with Cities and States

States, when spelled out or when the older abbreviation format is used, are enclosed in commas following the name of a city. Commas may be omitted with the newer (two capital letters) format.

Example: “Zondervan is in Grand Rapids, Mich., and Moody is based in Chicago, Illinois, but Karen has lived in Bedford CT for years.”



back up/backup

back up (verb) means “to move into a position behind” or “to make a copy of.”

“Don’t back up,” the waitress said, balancing the tray of food.

“I back up my computer files every day.”

backup (noun) means “a copy of computer data.”

“I make a backup of my computer files every day.”

backup (adjective) means “serving as a substitute or support.”

“Wendy decided she needed a backup plan.”



Generations of English teachers have taught students certain rules that are either personal preferences or rules that have changed over time. For example:

Never use the word hopefully in place of “It is hoped” or “I/we hope.”

Many writers have been upbraided in recent years for using what is sometimes considered the colloquial usage of this word. The argument is that hopefully means “in a hopeful manner.” Therefore, a sentence like “Hopefully this will clear things up” could only mean “This will clear things up in a hopeful manner.”

However, according to the latest edition of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, hopefully has two meanings. #1 is “in a hopeful manner.” #2 is “It is hoped; I hope; we hope.” The example given is “Hopefully the rain will end soon.”

Webster’s further explains that this second definition of hopefully is in a class of adverbs known as disjuncts. Disjuncts are a way for the author (or speaker) to comment directly to the reader (or hearer) based on the content of the sentence. Many other adverbs (interestingly, frankly, clearly, luckily, unfortunately) are similarly used. Webster’s states that the second definition of hopefully is “entirely standard.”




lightening (verb) means “becoming lighter,” “illuminating, shining, brightening,” “making something brighter,” or “reducing in weight or quantity.” Examples:

“The acceptance went a long way toward lightening Veronica’s mood.”

“Sybil’s boss refused to consider lightening her duties after the accident.”


lightning (noun/adjective) refers to the flash of light in the sky that usually accompanies thunder.

“The lightning bolt lit up the night sky for an instant.”


Share your thoughts

Your email address will not be published.