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, or get a copy of my book Polishing the PUGS (available
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For . . . sake Expressions
“For . . . sake”
expressions usually leave off the s when the noun ends in an s or an s sound.
for righteousness’ sake
for goodness’ sake
for heaven’s sake
altar (noun): a table or platform used in a church service
“The new bride and groom prayed together at the altar.”
alter (verb): to change
“Roxanne hoped his outburst wouldn’t alter their friendship in any way.”
Make sure the pronoun and its antecedent agree in number.
“Trevor’s two sons are sloppy.” (plural)
“Neither one of them combs his hair.” (singular)
“Portia’s two daughters are neat; they both clean up after themselves.” (plural)
NOTE: In an effort to avoid gender bias (using he to refer to both sexes) and the annoying repetition of him/her, he or she, and the like, some writers use “they” as a singular pronoun when referring to someone whose gender is unknown or irrelevant.
Example: “If an editor (singular) likes your query, they (plural) will request a proposal.”
However, using the plural pronoun they to refer to a singular antecedent presents a problem in agreement. This style is acceptable in verbal speech, but not in writing.
There are many ways you could reword the above sentence to make it grammatically correct. Here are two examples:
“If an editor likes your query, he or she will request a proposal.”
“If the editors like your query, they will request a proposal.”
brainpower (one word, not two)