Spelling changes frequently


Does the spelling of any of these words surprise you? These are all the Macquarie Dictionary’s preferred spelling. The English language changes quickly, often without us realising. Transcripts of John Curtin’s wartime speeches show ‘to-day’ as hyphenated. I haven’t come across anyone who still writes ‘to-day’ with a hyphen. However, while the Macquarie prefers ‘statewide’ [...]

Spelling changes frequently2021-04-09T19:40:39+10:00

An organisation is singular


A business writing tip for you. People often ask me ‘What’s the most common grammatical error you find?’ And a frequent example is people writing about a company as a plural thing, such as ‘Microsoft are highly profitable.’ ❌ While we often 𝙩𝙖𝙡𝙠 𝙖𝙗𝙤𝙪𝙩 companies as ‘they’, it’s better to treat them as a singular [...]

An organisation is singular2021-03-17T16:22:31+10:00

Premise or premises?


Are you clear about the use of ‘premise’ and ‘premises’? The many COVID-19 instructions about self-isolating have highlighted an anomaly in English (and we know there are many!) Premises is a plural noun, but it is used to describe a single building, using a plural verb. (See the end if you are interested in [...]

Premise or premises?2021-04-09T19:40:53+10:00

Editing out tautologies


Are you a chatty writer and it all gets a bit longwinded? Fortunately, there are several ways to tighten up your writing. One way is to avoid or delete words that double up on meaning. These are called tautologies. Here are a few examples. The words you don’t need are in bold: We enjoyed the [...]

Editing out tautologies2021-04-09T19:49:24+10:00

Super-fast quiz


This question might not be uppermost on your mind if stranded on an island, but I'm always harping on about 'however' as it's the most common punctuation error I come across. Which of these three sentences is punctuated correctly? 1. Tasmania's electoral division boundaries have changed since you last voted, however voting is still compulsory, [...]

Super-fast quiz2021-03-17T16:27:37+10:00

Punctuating ‘however’


‘However’ is similar in meaning to ‘but’, with a longer pause built in. What’s tricky is that ‘however’ isn’t interchangeable with ‘but’, and it’s punctuated differently. In fact, punctuating the word ‘however’ is about the most common problem we see as editors. Here are some guidelines: But But is a ‘conjunction’ in grammar, and it [...]

Punctuating ‘however’2021-04-09T19:41:53+10:00

Should I use the ‘Oxford comma’?


I was training government staff in plain English writing the other day, and one course participant asked me about the Oxford comma: when should one use it? And then Rajan Venkataraman, who supports Hit Send's fast-turnaround editing service, wrote a blog explaining exactly that. Thanks Rajan. Mel Roome Principal Editor ******* In sentences that [...]

Should I use the ‘Oxford comma’?2021-04-09T19:42:16+10:00

Semicolons: endangered but not extinct


For plain-English advocates who prefer short sentences, semicolons as a joining device are a no-no; but in the right document, for the right audience, they can greatly improve long sentences and bring variety to your writing style. At Hit Send we do see some pretty odd sentences with semicolons, however, so here are some tips [...]

Semicolons: endangered but not extinct2021-04-09T19:44:41+10:00

How contemporary is your English?


Are your English skills keeping up with your modern lifestyle? Today is National Grammar Day – well it is in the US – and that’s my excuse to write to you about contemporary English. We all try to keep our skills up to date, and our English should be no exception. Short of time? Cut straight to [...]

How contemporary is your English?2021-04-09T19:45:05+10:00

Editing indefinite articles: A historic or an historic place?


When editing, we encounter this fairly frequently. The question is: do nouns beginning with 'h' take the indefinite article a or an? Fortunately, the answer is easy – it depends how the word beginning with ‘h’ sounds – that is, whether the ‘h’ is pronounced or not. For example, in ‘a hot dog’ the h is pronounced, but [...]

Editing indefinite articles: A historic or an historic place?2021-04-09T19:45:17+10:00
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