Confused words: A to C

During proofreading I frequently come across some words that have been confused time and again. This is the first part of an occasional series looking at a few examples and I will start alphabetically with words beginning A to C. Affect / effect “Affect” as a verb means to alter or influence, while “effect” as … Continue reading Confused words: A to C

Rhyming slang: Part 1 – Britain

Slang where words are replaced by a words or phrases with which they rhyme.

Tips for writers: Avoiding sexist and biased language: part 1

Sexist language refers to words, terms, or usages that discriminate against or exclude either of the sexes, and that assume maleness, or even femaleness is the standard. Despite many years of feminist campaigners and attempts to raise awareness of the use of sexist language, it still widely exists in modern life.

Tips for writers: Collective nouns and mass nouns

At first glance by the layperson the terms collective nouns and mass nouns might appear to be the same, but there are differences. Collective nouns denote a group of individuals, such as crew or family, and the noun can be used with singular verbs or plural verbs. In Britain it is generally more usual for … Continue reading Tips for writers: Collective nouns and mass nouns

English usage and writing myths

There are several myths about English grammar and typography that are widely held but have little or no validity. A few are discussed here. Myth: You cannot start a sentence with the words and or but. According to the authoritative New Fowler’s Modern English Usage (third edition) by R.W. Burchfield there is a widely held … Continue reading English usage and writing myths

Tips for writers: How to cut the waffle

  I am sorry if you were expecting a discussion about a favourite foodstuff. I am going to talk about another kind of waffle – writing in a lengthy, vague, or trivial way. If you have ever wished that your writing was more concise or ‘to the point’ you could look at eliminating redundant and … Continue reading Tips for writers: How to cut the waffle

Levels of proofreading

You might be forgiven for thinking that proofreading is proofreading – there are no variances in style or intensity. The proofreader would read through for spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and other errors and inconsistencies and that is it. Well not quite – it depends on the authorship, readership,  and context, and where the writing will appear. … Continue reading Levels of proofreading

New words

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) does not generally add new words into the printed dictionary until they have had some time to become established. In the meantime they are added to the online version, launched on 14 March 2000. Some examples of new words added to OED online in the twenty-first century are: sext (2001), … Continue reading New words

Textese (or text-ese)

(The following is reproduced from a blog I published in October 2014 on a different host site.) Textese is a form of written language that is used in short text messages (SMS) and other digital communications such as emails, characterized by many abbreviations and typically not following standard spelling, grammar, capitalization, punctuation, and style. In … Continue reading Textese (or text-ese)


Upspeak (or uptalk) is the term for speaking with a rising intonation towards the end of a sentence where a person makes a question out of a sentence that is not really a question but more of a statement. Examples would be ‘There is no way I can go out dressed like this as I … Continue reading Upspeak