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Writing and Grammar Tips (beta)

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Category : Writing Tips

An editor’s tip for effectively editing your own work

We all want to present our best work whenever we present that work to an audience, not matter what that work is. If it is the written word, we want it to be free from errors, e.g., grammatical errors, misspellings, and typographical errors. Quite honestly, no one is a good editor of their own writing. When we read our own writing, everyone has a tendency to read over the small errors that are present in the writing. According to “What’s Up with That: Why it’s so Hard to Catch Your own Errors” by Nick Stockton in Science from 8/12/14, it is easier for us to miss the information errors since we already know the meaning that we expect to be present in the text; i.e., the two versions (i.e., the version in your head versus the one on the paper) are competing. Therefore, the best editor of your work is another person. They will be able to look at your work with a fresh and more critical eye.

However, if you cannot have another person edit your work for some reason, the next best plan is to read your own work aloud. This forces you to slow down and process the text differently than you do when you read the work silently. You will catch typos and misspellings more easily. You will also have a tendency to trip over sentences that are not written smoothly. This activity will help you identify areas that need attention.

Of course, our editors at EditMyEnglish are always waiting to help you edit your text so that you can present a prefected, polished document. Visit our site to start a new project today!

The Dreaded Comma Splice!

Ah, the comma splice… This grammar blunder struck fear in the deepest recesses of my heart in my high school English days and continues to make me shudder just a bit when I see one to this day. I can attribute this somewhat irrational fear of comma splices to my sophomore AP English teacher, Shirley Lyster. Miss Lyster threatened to give a failing grade to any paper that included even just one comma splice, hence my fear and trepidation. It worked, Miss Lyster! I now hate comma splices and spot them everywhere!
So, what is a comma splice? It is the use of a comma to “splice” two independent clauses together without a coordinating conjunction. Let’s look at the following example borrowed from the song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” by The Charlie Daniels Band released on their 1979 album Million Mile Reflections: “The devil went down to Georgia, he was looking for a soul to steal.” This is a comma splice. We have two independent clauses (i.e., two sentences that can stand alone) that were erroneously joined together by a comma and nothing else.
We can fix this a number of ways. We can simply change the comma to a semicolon: “The devil went down to Georgia; he was looking for a soul to steal.” We can add a subordinating conjunction: “The devil went down to Georgia because he was looking for a soul to steal.” We can add a coordinating conjunction and a comma: “The devil went down to Georgia, and he was looking for a soul to steal.” We can add a conjunctive adverb and a semicolon: “The devil went down to Georgia; moreover, he was looking for a soul to steal.” Lastly, we can simply separate the two sentences into the two separate independent clauses by changing the comma to a period: “The devil went down to Georgia. He was looking for a soul to steal.”
While comma splices may not be the bane of modern life, they are a grammatical mistake that you should avoid. Thankfully, you have many tools at your disposal to fix these errors, so they are relatively easy to avoid.

Affect vs. Effect

Affect vs. Effect

The easiest way to remember the difference between affect and effect really depends on your learning style. I’m a functional learner, so it’s easiest for me to remember that affect is usually used as a verb, whereas effect is usually used as a noun.

The following examples illustrate this common usage:

Grammar Comic

The rainy conditions affected the outcome of the baseball game. In this case, affected is the verb. The conditions did something to the outcome. What did they do? They affected it.

The rain had a devastating effect on the pitcher’s ability to control the baseball game. In this case, effect is a noun. The rain had something. What did it have? It had an effect on the pitcher’s ability to control the game.

There are some cases in which effect is also used as a verb, rather than as a noun. When effect is used as a verb, it means to bring about or introduce something. Consider the following example: The general manager effected change in the momentum of the game by swapping out pitchers.

To differentiate between affect and effect when they’re both used as verbs, consider their object. Affect usually impacts or changes something tangible, whereas effect usually creates something or brings it into being.

If memorizing functions and definitions isn’t quite your style, try a mnemonic device to help you with the beginning letters such as, “The arrow affected the aardvark; the effect was eye popping.”

When all else fails, bookmark the Everything English blog where you can come get answers to all your common grammar questions!