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Proper Preposition Phrases

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On a daily basis, we see improper preposition usage. In fact, it drives us crazy when we hear supposedly well-educated people on national radio and TV misuse common prepositions in their reporting of the news and current events.

Just to be clear as to what we’re talking about here: a “preposition” is a word that is placed before a noun or pronoun to form a phrase by modifying another word in the sentence. The dictionary defines a preposition as: “…a word governing a noun or pronoun and expressing a relation to another word or element…” In less technical terms, prepositions are those little connector words that join words and/or phrases to other words and/or phrases.

Examples of common prepositions are: about, above, after, as, at, before, behind, between, beyond, but, by, down, during, in, into, of, off, on, under, until, up, upon, with, within, to name a few. These words almost always function as an adjective or adverb.

Below are about a dozen typical preposition phrases misused in the news media and on popular TV shows.

agree (on), agree (to), agree (with)
We now agree on the terms of the contract.
I intend to agree to his proposal after the modifications.
His observations agree with my findings.

answer (for), answer (to)
He will have to answer for what he did last night.
She will have to answer to her boss on that matter.

begin (by), begin (from), begin (with)
I will begin by taking the oath of allegiance.
The race will begin from the parking lot behind the car dealership.
The project will begin with an environmental assessment.

bored (by), bored (with); NOT “bored of”
She was really bored by last night’s concert.
Over time, I became bored with the whole thing.

capable (of); NOT “capable to”
I knew that they were capable of much more.
The coach told me I was capable of playing at a much higher level.

correspond (to), correspond (with)

Once it is repainted it will correspond to mine.
While away on course I made it a habit to correspond with my parents by e-mail.

impressed (by), impressed (with); NOT “impressed of”
Jason was impressed by their new approach to the issue.
Julia was quite impressed with Susan’s behavior.

graduate (from), graduate (to); NOT “graduated college”
When do you expect to graduate from college?
After the initial phase you will graduate to the next level.

invest (in), invest (with)
Once I receive the funds I will invest in a mix of stocks and bonds.
He decided to invest his savings with the bank.

live (off), live (on)
Once they move to the farm they plan to live off the land.
When I turn 65 I will start to live on a pension.

proceed (to), proceed (with)
After that is done, I will proceed to the next step.
Please proceed with what you were doing when we arrived.

report (on), report (to)
After his assessment he will report on the situation.
He will report to the recruitment center next Monday.

suited (to), suited (for)
They seem very suited to each other.
Brad is well suited for that accounting position.

The above are just a few examples of proper preposition usage in some of the more common preposition phrases.  So, here’s a word of warning: if you are trying to improve your English by watching television or listening to the radio, don’t assume that everything you hear is correct. Often it isn’t. Really! So, if you read or hear something that doesn’t seem quite right, look it up.

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Be Very Careful How You Post Online

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These days, with social media being a major part of our everyday lives, how you present yourself in writing is increasingly important. If you don’t pay careful attention to the quality of the posts you make online you could be hurting yourself in ways you haven’t even thought of, or can’t even imagine.

A Good Example of This on Facebook

A post appeared recently wherein the author had decided to go into some sort of rant about how they were very upset with people who used animal and cartoon images as their Facebook profile picture. This person wanted only photos of the actual person to be used, and they were therefore going to “unfriend” anyone on  who used an image other than their own photo. In this case that the person’s little rant also made numerous disparaging remarks about the characters and motives of the people who don’t use their own photo on Facebook.

The real kicker was that the individual’s rant was absolutely riddled with errors in basic English spelling and grammar.

What would your reaction to this post be? Exactly.

When a post seems to be bordering on illiterate, it loses all credibility. Whatever point they were trying to make about the FB profile photos suddenly became meaningless at best, and hypocritical at worst. And you wouldn’t be the only one to dismiss this person based on the poor quality of that post.

But here’s the most important part: whether you intend for it or not, your post may well be seen by thousands of people worldwide.

Yes, thousands. Even if you have your settings updated to maximum privacy. Anyone within your approved circle of friends can screenshot what you say and post it anywhere else.

Employers are Watching

Prospective employers routinely check out the Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin profiles of job applicants. If you have a habit of making posts with spelling and grammar errors (because it’s only social media, right?), chances are that this will be noticed and taken into account by hiring managers. Any job that requires at least high school graduation will require good writing skills.

College Admission Staff Are Watching

Admissions staff at universities and colleges also check out the online posts of applicants. Do you want to present yourself as semi-illiterate to a college or university? The worst thing about this is that if you get “screened out” by applications staff for your poor social media posts, you’ll never even know that this was the main reason you didn’t make the cut!

Prospective Dates Are Watching (Really!)

In Aziz Ansari’s book “Modern Romance” (Penguin Press, 2015), he states that poorly written text messages are a turn-off and sometimes a deal-breaker for many people during the initial phases of dating.


First, you would be surprised as to how many people claim to have college-level education and then post a profile that is rife with errors in spelling or grammar. So it makes the prospective date wonder: are you telling the truth about your education? If not, what else are you lying about?


Second, if you’re not willing to put your best foot forward when you’re actively trying to impress a date – whether it be for a short-term relationship or a spouse for life – it indicates you’re unlikely to put any effort into the relationship. And who wants to waste time on that?

Always, always have a grammar and spell checker program installed and running whenever you compose any type of social media post or text. Also, after drafting even the shortest of messages, STOP and read it over BEFORE you send it. Correct any errors and edit it for clarity if necessary.

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Becoming an Editor or Proofreader: A Comprehensive Guide

Becoming an Editor

Becoming an Editor or Proofreader

As long as there are people writing, there will be a need for editors and proofreaders. However, becoming an editor or proofreader requires patience, skill, and a thorough understanding of what these professions involve.

The following list of resources is designed to answer all your questions about training to become an editor or proofreader and to outline what you can expect as you embark upon an editing or proofreading career. Need more convincing? Check out some of our resources and see what we’re talking about!

Training to Become an Editor or Proofreader

Careers in Editing

Tips and Tricks


Careers in Proofreading


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6 Things I Learned My First Year as a Professional Editor

Professional Editor

The past two years have been crazy for me. One minute I was a student, drowning in papers and dealing with stress-induced insomnia by ingesting large amounts of coffee (not my wisest choice), and the next I was employed as a professional editor. There I was, a recent graduate. Not only did I have an answer to the “So, what will you do now?” question, but I even had an answer that was related to my English major—you know, the one that everyone had been informing me for four years would be entirely useless upon graduation.

It felt good to silence the naysayers, and it felt even better to be gainfully employed and finally take a break from learning. Because there’s never anything new to learn with a new job—right?

Wrong, of course, completely and utterly wrong. There were tons of things to learn! Even though I’ve been working as a professional editor for nearly two years, I’m still learning new things every day. I’d like to share some of my best editing tips with you, aspiring editor, so that you may accelerate your own learning process a bit.

Editing Tip #1: Being a writer does not make you an editor, and being an editor does not make you a writer.

This is less of an editing tip and more of a reminder that editing is a very specific skill. If you’re considering pursuing a career as a professional editor, you need to be honest with yourself about what your capabilities really are. Maybe you got great marks in all your English classes, or you read three books a week. Perhaps you’ve written and even published your own work. All that is great, but it doesn’t mean you’re destined to become a professional editor.

To be an editor, you need a firm grasp of English grammar, but you also need to know how to correct others’ mistakes without eliminating their own voice. You need to be able to do this nicely. It may sound simple, but it’s rather difficult when you actually try. Some people are just plain bad at editing. Conversely, not all editors are writers. Plenty of them hate writing their own documents and prefer to polish existing writing. Remember, editing and writing are two very different skills. Though they are related, they do not necessarily always go together.

Editing Tip #2: If there’s one thing you should strive for above all else, it’s consistency.

Of course, you want to be consistently correct, not consistently incorrect. One of your most important skills as a professional editor, the one that sets you apart from non-editors, will be your ability to spot inconsistencies. This specific type of attention to detail will help you catch errors others would miss, making it extremely important. When you’re working as an editor, if you find yourself stumped about how to solve a certain problem (like, say, a formatting or style issue), the odds are pretty good that choosing to correct the error consistently will be an adequate solution.

Editing Tip #3: Be nice.

EditingCamp You might think that this one is a given, but trust me, you would be wrong. Lots of aspiring professional editors have a great deal of knowledge, and they find themselves bursting at the seams wanting to share this knowledge with clients. That’s good, but your focus as an editor should really be on correcting errors and helping clients improve their work rather than on explaining to them exactly what they did wrong. For one thing, the explanation is likely to go over their heads, and for another, you just sound like a snob when you lord your knowledge over someone else. Provide useful feedback, and be nice when correcting mistakes. Don’t be the reason that we editors have a bad rap; if you want to be part of the editing club, you have to try not to perpetuate the myths.

Editing Tip #4: With that being said, know the rules, and know them well.

Even though you’re not going to break out your correlative conjunction knowledge every time you have to correct a related comma error, you should still know what a correlative conjunction is. Studying the many nuances of English grammar will make you a better editor. If you haven’t already, consider reading a book, taking a course, or otherwise brushing up on the more complex rules of grammar. This way, when you come across a tricky clause, you’ll know exactly why and how you need to fix it.

Editing Tip #5: Google should be your best friend.

Being smart isn’t about having knowledge—it’s about knowing how to find and use the knowledge you need. The same goes for being a professional editor. Sure, you should have a good grasp of grammar rules and conventions, but you are going to encounter much that you don’t know. When that happens, your good friend Google can help. Whether you’re looking up the proper spelling of a medical term or doing basic fact-checking for a history paper, the Internet can be an inexhaustible resource to help you finish each project to the highest standard.

Editing Tip #6: Don’t skip the second pass.

If you’re considering a career in editing, you’re likely a perfectionist. All the good ones are. I hate to be the one to break this to you, but listen—even the most anal people make mistakes. Editors are no exception, which is why one of the best things a professional editor can do is to make sure to leave enough time to complete a second pass. Ideally, you should take a break between completing your first pass and starting your second one. Depending on how much time you have and how long the project is, consider going for a walk, taking a nap, or working on something else for a while. If you don’t complete a second pass, you’ll be sure to miss very obvious errors.


There you have it: six editing tips from my first year as a professional editor. If you’re an amateur editor yourself, I hope you took something useful from this post. If you’re thinking about pursuing a career in this challenging but rewarding field, I hope I’ve helped you make your decision.

Image source: Vladimir Kudinov/

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The Ultimate Proofreading Checklist

Ultimate Proofreading Checklist

Ultimate Proofreading Checklist

Okay, so you have to proofread something. Deep breaths. Unless you’re a professional proofreader, you’re likely not too thrilled to find yourself in this situation. You’ve already spent eight hours sitting at your desk writing this document, and three more hours just editing it. Now, you have to proofread it, too?!

Yes, yes, you do. But it’s not all bad. I’m going to give you a choice. It’s time to pick (drum roll, please) . . . your proofreading hat!Proofreading HatsProofreading hat? Really?

Yes, really. Putting on your proofreading hat (literal or figurative—your call) will help you get into the right frame of mind. The more you wear your hat while you proofread, the more you’ll associate your hat with proofreading and the more easily you’ll face the tasks that lie ahead.

I know it’s daunting, but at least you have a cool hat!

And luckily for you, we’ve compiled a proofreading checklist for you. All you have to do is follow it. Easy peasy, right? So, proofreaders, rev up your desk chairs, and don your proofreading hats proudly!

The Ultimate Proofreading Checklist

Complete a First Pass

  • Correct typos. Scan through the document, and make sure everything is spelled correctly. Changing to a different font type can help the eye to catch errors.
  • Thoroughly revise homophones (words that sound the same but have different spellings and meanings). The most common are their/they’re/there, but also consider discrete/discreet, persecute/prosecute, and farther/further.
  • Revise the document based on the conventions of your version of English and your preferred audience/style guide. While U.S. English calls for the serial comma, U.K. English generally does not. You can use the percentage symbol in technical writing, but you should spell out “percent” in most written paragraphs. All the words in your title are capitalized in MLA style, but only the first word is capitalized in most Harvard style guides. All these little rules should be followed according to your location and your audience. Always consult your preferred style guide.
  • Don’t forget to proofread figures and tables. This includes formatting. Make sure the numbering is consistent.
  • Check for faulty parallelism, especially regarding collective nouns. For example, the word “class” is treated as a singular subject.
  • Make sure you’ve used hyphens, en dashes, and em dashes appropriately. The hyphen is used to create compound words, the en dash indicates range, and the em dash is used to break up sentences.
  • Be consistent with spelling. All terms and names should be spelled the same throughout the entire document.
  • Ditto with spelling out numbers. Most style guides spell out numbers between one and nine, and use numerals for numbers 10 and up, unless you’re starting a sentence. Consult your preferred style guide for the correct formatting of dates, times, percentages, equations, etc.
  • Eliminate redundancy, and shorten run-on sentences. Eliminate verbosity. “Due to the fact that” should be cut and replaced with “because.”
  • Revise comma splices. If you’ve split up two independent clauses with a comma, you’ve spliced your sentence. Repair by separating your sentence or introducing a semicolon.
  • Introduce all acronyms. Before using an acronym, present it. There’s nothing more confusing to a reader than a series of letters with zero help from the author about what they mean. After you properly introduce your acronym, you can use it throughout the rest of the paper, except in titles.
  • Cut off the other hand. Sorry, that was graphic. I just mean that, if you’re transitioning with “on the other hand,” “on one hand” has to come before it. To remedy this problem, you can always just use “conversely” instead.
  • Consider tone and language. Verify that the word choice is appropriate for your intended genre/medium/audience.
  • Check that your paragraphs flow together nicely. Like a rickety bridge, any poor connections should be further supported.
  • Verify that your tense is consistent throughout. Slipping between past and present tense is a very common mistake that’s extremely jarring to the reader.
  • ProofreadingCampMake sure your vocabulary is varied. If you’ve said “in addition” for the last three sentences, try changing it up. If you’ve used the word “beautiful” 11 times in a document, a thesaurus can’t hurt. Just make sure you know the exact definition and connotations of any word you use and make sure it conveys the intended meaning.
  • Clarify everything. Ambiguous word choices and sentence structures should be eliminated.
  • Ensure that all your reference information is there. Conversely, do not cite something that does not appear in the work. Make sure the in-text citations match the ones in the reference page.
  • If you find that you’re making major changes, stop proofreading and edit instead. If you’re writing, you’ll probably introduce new errors into your document. Edit first, and make the big changes. Then go back to proofreading.
  • Take off your proofreading hat and walk away for a bit. Drink a cup of coffee, or step outside into the sunshine. At the very least, look at something far away from your desk for no less than 40 seconds. Then, take a deep breath, and get your proofreading hat back on. It’s time for your second pass. Don’t fret. If you’ve done a good job with your first pass, then you can take off your proofreading hat really soon. It’s sad, I know.

Complete a Second Pass

  • Use an automated spell-checker. Know when to accept changes and when to ignore them. Remember that the computer is not always correct.
  • Format the document according to your preferred style guide. This includes margins, headers, paragraphs, spacing, font type and size, etc. It’s finicky work, but it’s important.
  • Double-check your spacing. It’s very common for writers to accidentally space twice between words and sentences. Words should always have only one space between them, and a single space between sentences is quickly becoming the norm. Check your style guide to be sure which is preferred here, but whatever your decision, be consistent.
  • Make sure to quadruple-check important parts of the document. It’s embarrassing when a word is spelled wrong in the title or the conclusion.
  • Read the entire document one more time. Does it flow well? How does it look as a whole? Do you need to make any final changes?

Talk about hat hair! It’s time to hang up your trusty proofreading hat for another day. In the meantime, you can always learn to improve your proofreading skills with ProofreadingCamp. Or, hey, if you think you look weird in hats, we know some people with a collection of hats who would be happy to do your proofreading for you.

Image source: Andrew E. Weber/


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Tips for Managing Your Life as a Freelance Proofreader

Tips for Managing Your Life as a Freelance Proofreader

Think freelance proofreading is for you? Here’s what you need to know!

Tips for Managing Your Life as a Freelance ProofreaderYou have chosen a career as a freelance proofreader and have entered the realm of the self-employed. Congratulations! Being your own boss and working by yourself is exciting and liberating; there are no bosses and no office politics. However, the reality is that there is no boss, no one to hold you accountable, and no one to manage the particulars an employer typically handles. It’s all up to you.

Staying on task with your proofreading jobs when you’re self-employed can be challenging. As a freelance proofreader, you must develop good work habits and choose to work efficiently and effectively. You must work regular hours, meet all deadlines, stay up to date with your financials, and keep organized client files.

Let’s take a look at these, perhaps new, responsibilities and see how best to cope with them.

Managing your time

The challenge most freelance proofreaders often find the most daunting is time management, which needs to be taken seriously if you are to be successful and productive. You must manage yourself and your energy so you can accomplish your tasks and maintain a balance between your work and personal time.

Sometimes the hardest part about being self-employed is simply getting things done. Working as a freelance proofreader can be fun, profitable, and easy if you consider the following tips:

  • Get down to basics: follow a schedule; make a to-do list; set priorities; use a stop watch to allocate a certain amount of time per task; and use little pockets of time wisely.
  • Take care of one thing you dread each morning. Do it first and get it out of the way, otherwise it will distract you for the rest of the day.
  • Whether you are a night-owl or an early-bird freelance proofreader, take advantage of your own peak hours, however non-traditional they may be, to complete your tasks.
  • Take a break for five minutes (or 24 hours) to avoid burnout and bad habits. Do something to alter your business routine: go shopping, have lunch with a friend, take a drive to the lake, or go for a run. Incorporating a little R & R into your schedule rescues you from the monotony of your work and boosts your creativity. You will return to your work refreshed and full of new ideas.
  • Mistakes will happen. Don’t obsess over them. Apologize to your client, take responsibility for what happened, and then rectify the problem. The sooner you fix it, the sooner you can move on.
  • Brush up on your skills so that you are working as efficiently as possible. There are online forums to talk to other freelance proofreaders, or you can enroll in an online proofreading course to be sure your skills are up to snuff. Learning a few tricks and making sure  you are proofreading to the best of your abilities will save you time and hassle in the long run.
  • Eliminate the distractions of e-mail and social media for a few hours each day. Your productivity will increase, and you will work efficiently through your to-do list.
  • Keep an accurate account of the actual time you spend working on each project using a stopwatch and a spreadsheet. Include a short summary of the work accomplished. This will help you estimate the time you might need for similar freelance proofreading work in the future, and it is useful when determining your rates.
  • Several online tools, such as Google Calendar and myMemorizer, can help freelance proofreaders avoid distractions, and others, such as Manic Time, can help you get a basic handle on time management.

As a freelance proofreader, staying focused requires mindfulness, which is essential to your success. The best parts of self-employment are also the things that can lead to stress and failure. Be aware of what you are doing each day, be honest about what you can do better, and forgive yourself when you make mistakes or aren’t as productive as you hoped.

Financial concerns

As a freelance proofreader, you must take care of your own benefits, such as health care, handle estate and retirement planning, and pay any applicable taxes. Self-employed individuals often deal with financial issues that are more complex than those of salaried employees. Legal and accounting considerations are also important, and it is imperative that you keep accurate and detailed financial records of your business. If these responsibilities prove to be overwhelming, it might be wise to enlist the advice and support of professionals.


One of the nicer aspects of regular full-time employment is that your employer is required to withhold money from your paycheck and send it to the government to cover your taxes. As a freelance proofreader, however, that responsibility will fall on you. There’s no doubt that paying taxes can be daunting for the self-employed. You might need to consult an accountant or tax advisor if you have special concerns.

As a freelance proofreader, you should set aside a portion of your revenue from which to pay your taxes. The amount will depend on the amount of money you bring in, plus the deductions and tax credits you’re allowed to claim to offset your tax bill. This varies widely from case to case; there’s no standard guideline that fits the entire spectrum of home-based businesses.

If you’re self-employed, it’s a good idea to establish a bank account from which you pay taxes on all your income. That way, when taxes are due, you are prepared to pay them. A good way to handle your taxes is to pay them quarterly. This might seem cumbersome, but it is actually a safer practice than trying to pay just once a year because it forces you to keep money in reserve and be accountable at regular intervals.

Some final thoughts

There is a definite allure to being a freelance proofreader. After all, who wouldn’t want to be their own boss, work when they want to from almost anywhere, and have complete control over their income potential? However, remember that when you are self-employed, everything is your responsibility. Armed with knowledge and foresight, we are sure you will successfully navigate the jungle of red tape and enjoy your career as a freelance proofreader!

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Editing in British English

Editing in British English

A guide to the differences between American and British English

Editing in British EnglishEnglish can be a strange and confusing language. Its spelling and grammar rules aren’t always intuitive, and the fact that there are different varieties of English—British, American, Canadian, and Australian—makes things that much more perplexing . . . or so it seems. Today, we’re going to be looking at the main differences between the two most common varieties of English—British and American—and what to watch out for when editing in British English. Although the two aren’t that different, their variations in grammar—including spelling, usage, and punctuation—are still quite significant.

By comparing British English to American English, this article will list the most common things to watch out for when editing in British English. We will cover the topic of British English grammar as a whole, including spelling, usage, and punctuation, as well as the differences between American and British English. By the time you’re done reading this article, you’ll know exactly what to pay special attention to when editing in British English. Chocks away!

British English

British English is the variety of English spoken and written throughout the United Kingdom. Although British English has regional varieties, we’re going to keep it simple here by taking a broad approach and examining the main features of British spelling, grammar, vocabulary, usage, and punctuation. Learning these basics will provide you with a great knowledge base that you’ll find especially helpful when writing or editing in British English.

Let’s start with the main differences between American and British English, which include spelling, usage, and punctuation.

1. Spelling

The spelling of English words has not always been standardized. With the publication of influential dictionaries in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, spelling standards became increasingly common, although with differences between countries. These variances occurred for cultural, political, and linguistic reasons, and over the years, the differences have become more cemented (though never completely so).

The primary differences are between British and American spellings. American spelling conventions changed early on, and the variances have persisted throughout the years. Countries in the British Commonwealth (and Ireland) tend to follow British usage, although there are still some minor variations (Australian spellings, for instance, sometimes diverge from the British forms). The one major exception is Canada. Canadian English is more of a hybrid and follows typical British usage in many ways, while adopting certain common practices from its neighbor to the south.

Here are some of the main spelling differences between American and British English:

  • Words that end in –our in British English tend to end in –or in American English, but only when the –our ending is not stressed, such as in flav-our.
  • When the –our ending is stressed, however, the –our spelling is retained in American English, such as in vel-our.
  • Words ending in –erior are spelled this way everywhere, regardless of location.
    • superior
    • exterior
    • interior
    • inferior
  • Many words in British English end in –er, especially Germanic and Romance words. However, certain words with French, Latin, and Greek origins end in –re in British English. These –re endings are often not used in American English (e.g., theatre in British English is spelled theater in American English). Here are some other examples of -re endings in British English:
    • centre
    • metre
    • fibre
    • sabre
  • Many English words derived from Greek words end in –ize or –ise. The ending choice varies between, and often within, countries. Great Britain uses both –ize and –ise, although the –ise ending is more common.
  • For such Greek-derived words, the British usage is inconsistent. The –ise is more common, but the Oxford University Press and the Oxford English Dictionary, for example, use the –ize. The Cambridge University Press, on the other hand, adopts the –ise ending, and this is what is typically used in the British mass media for words such as criticise or organise.
  • Some words ending in –ize/-ise are not derived from Greek, and their endings are thus not interchangeable in British English. Examples include:
    • size
    • prize
    • seize
  • The use of the –yze or the –yse ending varies between countries. The –yse ending is used in British English, while the –yze ending is used in both American and Canadian English for words such as analyze.
  • Some words can end in either –ogue or –og, although the –ogue ending tends to dominate in all countries. Examples:
    • pedagogue
    • monologue
    • synagogue
  • In British English (and that of most Commonwealth countries), some words use either the ae or the oe combination, while in American and Canadian English, these are almost always reduced to a simple e. However, there are certain exceptions. The word fetus, based on etymology, should always be spelled fetus, but Britons often adopt the oe spelling, and the word becomes foetus. Academic journals everywhere tend to prefer the etymologically correct spelling, fetus.
  • A few words always (or usually) retain the ae or oe construction, even in American English:
    • phoenix
    • subpoena
    • toe
  • Latin –ae plural endings are not changed in any variety of English, as with the following:
    • larvae
    • formulae
    • antennae

Spelling Differences: Double Consonants in British English

How to Edit in British EnglishWhen adding a suffix that begins with a vowel, the final consonant is often doubled. This helps avoid confusion. For example, if you have tap and do not double the consonant p when adding the suffix –ed, you will end up with taped, which is the past tense of the verb tape. Doubling the consonant creates the word tapped instead.

Generally, this only occurs when the word ends with a single consonant following a single vowel and when the final syllable is stressed. However, in British English, a final –l is often doubled to –ll, even when the ending is unstressed. In American English, only one –l is used. Canadian English follows British usage here, typically using the –ll.

This doubling in British English is generally true for any such words ending in –ed, –ing, –er, –est, and -or, for example:

  • counsellor
  • counselling
  • counselled

However, for words ending with –ise/-ize, –ism, –ist, and –ish, the final –l is generally not doubled, as with the following:

  • novelist
  • sensualist
  • normalise

In words with other endings, such as –ous, –ee, and –age, the usage varies, with some doubled (marvellous) and others not (scandalous). Jewellery has –ll in British English but is spelled jewelry in American English.

Single –l endings are used if there is a double vowel.

  • foal (oa) becomes foaling
  • fool (oo) becomes fooling
  • pool (oo) becomes pooling

Single –l endings are used if there is a consonant preceding the final consonant.

  • bowl (w before the l) becomes bowling
  • whirl (r before the l) becomes whirling


The biggest differences between American English and British English are words with the following combinations: –our versus –or, –re versus –er, –ize versus –ise, –yze versus –yse, –ogue versus –og, and words with ae in American English that are spelled with oe in the British equivalent. If you’re interested in learning more about the differences between American and British English, is a great resource.

2. Usage

Usage refers to language etiquette and how words are commonly used (written and spoken). It also refers to using the right word in the right context. In terms of British versus American English, usage is where you’ll see the most obvious distinctions. Different words may be used for different reasons: convention, simplicity, socio-cultural reasons, and even aesthetics. There are too many examples to include here, but check out for a very thorough list.

Word usage differences between British English and American English.3. Punctuation

Differences between American English and British English are probably the most noticeable in spoken language, but along with spelling and usage, there are also slight differences when it comes to British punctuation. The most important British punctuation rules to remember are:

  • The serial comma is not used. Example: I bought flowers, a vase and a card.
  • Single quotation marks (instead of double quotation marks) are used for initial quotations. For quotations within initial quotations, double quotation marks are used.
  • Punctuation (commas, periods) goes outside the quotation marks.
  • When writing titles such as “Dr.” or “Mr.,” the periods are omitted (“Dr” or “Mr”).
  • When writing times, British English uses a period between the hours and minutes (e.g., 4.30 p.m.), whereas American English uses a colon (e.g., 4:30 p.m.).

How can these rules help me with editing in British English?

Now that you’ve learned about the differences between British and American spelling, grammar, punctuation, and usage, it should be easier for you to spot these discrepancies and write or edit in British English. It’s really just a matter of keeping certain rules in mind. If you’re unsure about a certain rule or how to use a specific word, there are countless resources available online, including Inklyo’s GrammarCamp, EditingCamp, and ProofreadingCamp online courses. Of course, you can also always refer back to this article as a quick resource!


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8 Signs You’re an Editor

8 Signs You're an Editor

8 Signs You're an EditorIt takes a very specific kind of person to be an editor. Many people who you may think would make great editors—like writers, teachers, or other people who work with language a lot—just don’t have the right combination of personality quirks required to succeed in this career.

Being an editor is a tricky balance between being really good at following rules and being a jerk. If you can identify with more than half the items on the list below, there’s a good chance you’re already an editor. If you identify with this list but are not currently an editor, I think I may see a career change in your near future.

Here are eight signs that you’re an editor:

1. You laugh when other people suggest that you “like” to read, because you “like” to read about as much as you “like” to sleep. These are not “likes” or “wants”—these are needs. Granted, they are needs that often butt heads, like when you stay up until three in the morning because you have to finish the book you’re reading. (Also, you just giggled at the use of the word “heads” after the word “butt” because nothing amuses you more than what appears to be accidental wordplay.)

2. Inconsistency is the bane of your existence. This applies to everything in your life: subject-verb agreement, plurals, shoe size, the enforcement of rules, etc. If it’s inconsistent, it bothers you. And if it bothers you, you will do whatever you can to change it.

3. You’ve texted friends before to alert them to typos in their most recent Facebook statuses, because what kind of friend would you be if you let them leave errors there for all the world to see? Online typos are the electronic equivalent of food on the face or boogers in the nose, and anyone who doesn’t see that is a fool in your well-written and grammatically correct book.

4. You either have self-restraint down to a science when it comes to correcting the grammar of new acquaintances or people in positions of authority, or else you generally don’t make friends very easily.

5. Your friends and family members often complain that you “always have to be right,” but you know that isn’t true. Unlike them, you understand the importance of spreading knowledge and reducing ignorance, which is why you can’t let them go around saying things that simply aren’t correct. You also encourage them to correct you if you’re ever wrong, though, admittedly, you aren’t sure if that’s ever actually happened before.

6. You actually keep track of which major publishers tend to have the most typos in their books, and this seriously affects your buying choices.

7. While other people may engage in heated debates about current events, movies, or music, you always manage to find someone at the party with whom you can battle about the use of the serial comma. Of course, you can never be persuaded to change your opinion on the matter, and neither can the other person, but that’s what makes the debate so simultaneously engaging, engrossing, and enraging.

8. When it comes to grammar, you believe that perfection is attainable. Being called a perfectionist isn’t an insult; on the contrary, it’s the ultimate compliment.

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6 Myths about Being an Editor

6 Myths about Being an Editor

6 Myths about Being an EditorAre you considering a glamorous career in editing? If you are thinking about becoming an editor, you’ve probably come across some pretty crazy misconceptions about what exactly editors do and what we’re like. You may have heard that editors are detailed-obsessed individuals who take great pleasure in knowing more than others do about grammar and punctuation. Well, that’s entirely true. It’s a well-known fact that one cannot be an editor without an inner drive that forces him or her to strive for an unattainable level of perfection. If you spent a good part of your childhood trying to convince your parents that any low marks you achieved in school were, in fact, the end of the world, you’ve probably always been destined to become an editor.

If you’re going to be an editor, you should probably also be aware of the popular myths that surround this magical and mysterious career. Many people believe things about editors that simply aren’t true, and there’s nothing we dislike more than incorrect information being passed off as fact. (Except, maybe, comma splices. We just can’t handle that crap.)

Myth #1: All Editors Do the Same Thing

One common misconception about editors is that we all perform the same job duties. In reality, there are several different kinds of editors, and they all do different things. Two of the most different types of editors are developmental editors and copy editors. Developmental editors help structure the entire project, while copy editors focus more on technical things, like the use of punctuation and adherence to grammar principles. Another type of editor is an acquisitions editor, sometimes known as a commissioning editor. This person is responsible for choosing which manuscripts a publishing house should publish. Depending on the project, all three of these very different types of editors may be involved at some point.

So, depending on your interests and skills, you may be better suited for one type of editing than another. But don’t worry—although we do different jobs, we’re all equally awesome.

Myth #2: Editors Are Evil Destroyers of Dreams

It’s not uncommon for writers to fear editors. Many writers think that editors are out to tear their work to shreds or to change it until it is unrecognizable, but the truth is only bad editors do that. Good editors value good work, and if we feel that something could use improvement, we provide constructive feedback and solid examples of how that improvement could be made. That being said, if something is grammatically incorrect, we will change it—after all, that’s what we’re being paid to do! Sensitive authors and people whose grasp of grammar isn’t nearly as good as they think it is give editors a bad name, but you know what Taylor Swift always says—those haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate. Shake it off. Just shake it off.

Myth #3: Editors Never Make Mistakes

Even the best professionals make mistakes. Just look at Ben Affleck. He broke into the film industry with Good Will Hunting, a brilliant film jam-packed with stellar performances. He went on to make some other good movies, and then there was . . . Gigli. This film has a 2.3/10 rating on and a measly 6% on It’s widely considered to be one of the worst movies ever made. After the abomination that was Gigli, Affleck managed to establish himself as a serious director and a decent actor. So you see, everyone makes mistakes!

Now, I will admit that most editors don’t make mistakes of Gigli proportions. We’re more likely to miss the occasional misused comma or incorrect word choice than to make epic mistakes of the feature film variety. Still, the lesson here remains the same: editors are people, and people make mistakes.

Myth #4: Editors Are Proofreaders

Editing and proofreading, while similar in nature, are not actually the same thing. Yes, both editing and proofreading involve removing errors from a document. However, editors tend to focus more on the big picture, while proofreaders are responsible for making a document error-free. This doesn’t mean that one is more important than the other; instead, it means that one should come before the other.

A document should first be edited, then proofread. These are two different services, and they should be provided by two different people. There’s a reason why editors aren’t called Editoofreaders and proofreaders aren’t called Proofeditors. They aren’t the same thing.

Myth #5: All Editors Are Geeks or Nerds

Okay, so I can see where people might get this one from. Yes, editors are smart and good with language. Yes, we typically do enjoy reading. Yes, we know lots of things that other people don’t know about grammar. But that doesn’t make us all geeks. If anything, we’re definitely geek-chic. Who cares, anyway? Everyone knows that brainy is the new sexy. (All right, fine. Maybe this one isn’t a myth after all. But don’t you act like you didn’t thoroughly enjoy that Sherlock reference.)

Myth #6: Editors Are Becoming Obsolete

Some people think they don’t need editors anymore. Why pay for an editor when word processors like Microsoft Word have built-in spelling and grammar checkers? Here’s why:

“I went too go to the storage.”

According to Microsoft Word, which I’m currently using to write this blog post, that is a perfectly acceptable sentence. Despite the fact that it makes no sense and has three incorrect word choices, it’s A-Okay in Word’s book. People will always need real editors because I didn’t “went too go to the storage”; I wanted to go to the store.

Now that you know a little bit more about what an editor isn’t, wouldn’t you like to know a bit more about what being an editor is all about? Check out some of Inklyo’s resources to see if you have what it takes to become a professional word warrior.

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