What to Capitalize

Improperly capitalizing nouns is one of the most common errors I come across. Just because a word is important or distinctive doesn’t mean it should be capitalized. Only proper nouns—those that name specific people, places, and things*—are capitalized. Sounds easy, right? Dig on the errors (in italics) I’ve come across in the past week: Don’t … Continue reading

Regarding “Myriad”

Until about 10 seconds ago, I thought I knew all there was to know about myriad. I thought the word was an adjective and not a noun, and that people who said, “There are a myriad of reasons why I won’t go to the festival,” were plain wrong in their usage. It turns out that … Continue reading

Clarity Trumps Conciseness

Don’t let conciseness get in the way of clarity. Often, a neat trick to pare down a sentence is to take a descriptive clause, turn it into a tidy little modifier, and tuck it in front of a noun. Say what? LOOSE: The company, which is based in Roanoke, was founded in 1978. TIGHT: The … Continue reading

Make Your Verbs Work

Often, lists are more complex than just “a cat, a dog and a bunny.” When a list does start to get complicated, review the sentence to ensure that your verb works with each noun in the list. IT DOESN’T WORK: The day of celebration includes a luncheon, candle ceremony, potluck dinner and the Rev. George … Continue reading