Donal's picture

    Style Police

    Some of you smart people still mangle the apostrophe S business:

    It's vs Its

    Only use it's if you can also substitute it is in the same place:

    It's Howdy Doody Time! = It is Howdy Doody Time!

    I think it's clear that the economy stinks. = I think it is clear that the economy stinks.

    The party is its own worst enemy. ≠ The party is it is worst enemy.

    The kitteh purred whilst licking its fur. ≠ The kitteh purred whilst licking it is fur.

    's is not a plural

    SECs is the plural of SEC. SEC's is the possessive. Refis is the plural of refi. Refi's is the possessive. I know refis may come off your internal tongue as ree-fiss, but refi's is still not the plural.

    Plural: We really have two SECs. I rubber-stamped fourteen refis today.

    Possessive: The SEC's biggest problem is transparency. The refi's main advantage is stability.

    Also, there should be only one space between sentences. And if you separate phrases, don't use a hyphen. Hyphens are for joining words. Use the long em dash or augment the short en dash with spaces. If you write:

    I am a farmer-related product research interests me.

    I have to wonder which product you are. If you write:

    I am a farmerrelated product research interests me.

    I am a farmer related product research interests me.

    You are less likely to be confused with a compost spreader. Oxy uses a double hyphen:

    I am an economist--refi research interests me.

    Which still looks too--connected to me.


    Only DD can get away with whilst. Unless you're British or Canadian. Or it's in your haiku. And that should cover your vs you're.



    Now that is what I call an entitlement! ha

    Do not play with whilst,
    it's archaic and obscure,
    Whilstle while you work.

    'It is' is it? Eh,
    what did Howdy Doody know?
    You're pullin' his strings.

    Bear with me ... What if ...
    BOTH SECs co-owned stuff?
    Is it SECs's?

    It's SE seizes

    Doody passes for critique

    whilst work is archaic



    It's SE Seizes ... Of course. I stand corrected (said the man wearing orthotics.)


    Doody passes for critique ... that line made me laugh out loud.


    Whilst work is archaic ... Oops, 6 syllables.   Try: 'Whilst work's archaic.' 


    I first put down "refis"

    But "refi" is not a word

    So I added this------------------'


    As for detachment--

    I look at words as good friends--

    And cannot let go-




    Now a second thought------------------

    It should have been like this--------------refi-s

    Or maybe like this------------------------------------------------"refi"-s

    Not to remain two connected to all of this, but you said "style". Now to me it looks stupid to write "refis" because its not a word and causes a-detachment-in it's reading flow. I could read it as "reefers", or think you were stamping old "Rufus" and forgot to capitalize his name.

    I'm going to be gunnin for you----buddy.

    Actually, I do need help. About a week ago my "spellcheck" went missing. How do I go about turning it back on? Egads, I nearly wrote "alltogether" in my last post. Much obliged.


    I did it. Our spellcheck provider got hacked (according to the Google gods), so people started getting malware warnings, and I turned it off.

    It looks like they've got the situation under control now, so I turned it back on.

    Many, many thanks.

    It definitely hates refi and refis and anything close. So I changed the effing thing-its not a "word"-to re-finances----------which it loves.

    its not a "word"

    See Donal's first point... wink

    I don't know where the hell a long em is on the keyboard either. wink If I was ever going to be a published writer (which I don't plan on,) I figure the editor would find it for me and replace all the double dashes.

    I took typing in high school because that's where all the girls were. I learned some doubling spacing there but other things I didn't find out until much, much later.

    I don't know where the hell a 

    On a Mac, it's [Option]+-. Sadly, my [Option] key stopped working a couple weeks ago when I spelt drink on my laptop. crying

    Putting two spaces between between sentences is how I was taught to type.  It's automatic with my nervous system. Old dog new tricks, ain't going to happen. The youngin's who design the software that puts in the extra space automatically will just have to wait 'til we die. Oh wait, maybe not. Aren't these the same youngin's who are teaching themselves to type like this: r u 4 real?

    On the its/it's thing: I rarely get that wrong and the correct usage usually comes to me easily. But it's also clear to me that most people who do get it wrong have a sort of brain tick about it that makes it hard for them to get it right. And as I usually have no problem getting what they mean, I really really don't understand why it is one of those things that riles others so much.

    I know the rule perfectly well and have to say it in my mind to get it right, but sometimes miss. The one I have most difficulty with, other than the possessive versus the plural, is lie, lay and laid.

    Strangely enough, those terms seem to cause confusion in life as well as on the page.

    Ha ha.  About lie and lay:  A friend told me once that people lie and hens lay.  Still, I try to avoid either one of them, just in case.   

    I can make some pretty good mistakes, but the one I can't figure out is using "loose" for "lose".  Also, "definately".  Drives me crazy.  (Yes, spellcheck caught that one.)

    I know the rule, no problem.

    But I also write by ear, sort of--so I make the mistake because they sound the same.

    Same thing with there, their, they're, and there're.

    And your and you're.

    I have to go back and proof to make sure I haven't boo-booed.

    I taught myself the one-space convention but I think that using two spaces makes prose read in a less-hurried way, which I like.


    Course Im lrning 2 change w the timz.

    Well, I sorta left out the nuance on that rant, my bad. Actually, I suspect the single space between sentences is a GenX geek invention, and they can no longer be seriously considered as kids these days. wink

    Although I'm technically part of the GenX generation so my comment is suspect, it's not a GenX thing. It's a type-setting thing.

    My high school (white suburban) attempted a number of experiments in education.

    One was speed reading. We would have tests. I did rather well in the 10th grade approaching 400 WPM and retained a decent comprehension level.

    The ubermench would reach 1200 WPM with a lower retention rate.

    Robert Klein did a gig about speed reading. I cannot find it now but he spoke about the phenomena of speed reading.

    He related how a good writer might spend half an hour working on some clause and find eureka.

    And then he would relate to some chef who created some gourmet dish only to see a glutton gulf down his food with a spoon. hahahaha


    Sigh.. grammar... thanks for sucking me in, I came here thinking I would get to talk about something I know about, like if you can get a Helen Rose and there is a Ceil Chapman available, take the Helen Rose, it will be a tough choice but it is the correct choice.   Never, ever, ever wear Ugg boots with your pyjama bottoms in public, ever.

    So let's hijack the thread, presuming lack of clarity about subject matter in the author's title! devil

    I agree with your opinion on Uggs and jammy bottoms.

    Let's move on to something more controversial.

    This one's a favorite with friends (all Dems or libs, I might add,) that which we usually dare not debate in public. Point of debate:

    Michelle Obama's sense of style mostly sucks (especially for her body type,) but it's in the economic interest of fashionistas to promote it as savvy, and we must all patriotically pretend we like it.

    I wouldn't touch that with a double hyphen.

    Okay, let's hijack the thread.

    I actually love her style. I love her obsession with 50's style, I love it too. I think she mostly looks pretty fabulous, and only misses once in a while. She has that Thakoon dress, she's worn more than once which is so gorgeous and she wears it with kitten heels, which perfectly compliments the dress and that dusty hue of the dress, I want that dress actually, now that we are talking about it.

    She looks pretty terrific in all those shots above and my particular favorite is the black outfit to the right which seems to be designed using pishwas as an example, which really do look gorgeous on everyone. Of course she has had misses as well, but I think for the most part she looks pretty good.

    You cheated and only picked a few things with the empire waistline and the belt, which she picks most of the time. I don't get what the empire with belt thing is about when you've got big hips. She always looks better with a lower waist or none at all, shows off her great arms and makes her look more well-proportioned.

    It's just a little cherry picking. She obviously looks better in de la Renta, I think I would too!

    I was going to gripe about little girl cloths made today.  Most of it looks like hoochie mama  style.  Oh well I guess I am getting old fashion. 

    The little girl hipsters are wearing hoochie mama or 60's revival peace symbols & tie dye with black, and the grownup celebs are wearing little-girl pink or cotton-candy colors, tulle and florals, with pink lipstick. Like always, I figure it is the "you can't be dressing like the grownups" thing.

    Teresa, I don't know why, but it doesn't bother anyone when I wear Ugg Boots with my PJ  bottoms.  Do you think it is because I don't wear my PJ tops when I do that?  Jan

    I've recovered from laughing now... I suspect you have many admirers in that particular attire Jan.

    What?  whatever do you mean??????????


    Could it be the same as when I am walking around with my hot daughter (25 yrs old) in New York, and guys just STARE!  They never do that when we aren't walking together.  Maybe I should try the Ugg Boot method!!!


    Love you, Teresa!!  See my comment on fb

    From a long-time kibitzer and rare commenter who expects (hopes?) to be reincarnated as a 6th grade English teacher:

    An apostrophe is the difference between a company that knows its shit and a company that knows it's shit...

    Keep up the good work on all fronts brother!

    An apostrophe is the difference between a company that knows its shit and a company that knows it's shit...

    Okay, now that's funny.  If it wasn't so off-topic I might also have laughed at T Mac's Uggs and jammies, but I feel safe laughing at this.  Ha ha.  Ha. 

    Ramona is right on! hahhahaha

    I hereby award you the Dayly Line of the Day Award for this here Dagblog Site, given to all of you afrom all of me. hahahaah

    I've mastered the its/it's rule. What confuses me is the Republican/teabagger rule. It always blurs in my mind.

    Donal, I know the difference, but my [email protected][email protected]%^& Spell Check (on my IPad) puts an apostrophe into every "its" that I write.  I can't even write "hell" without it getting changed to "he'll!"

    On another note, I sent someone a text, hoping that he would get some "good rest," and was not a little bit shocked to get a response:  "Didn't know you were so kinky!"

    My message read:  "Hope you get some good REAR!"


    I try to proofread, but miss plenty, especially when I know I typed it right in the first place.  Another gem from a week or so ago (I don't know for sure if I typed it wrong, but these things only show up when I'm typing on my iPhone or iPad):  "I hope that all the THONGS you had to deal with are straightened out now."


    I'm with you, though.  I hate reading poorly written sentences, and "it's" vs "its" is so easy.  I work with someone who always says, "I might could have...."  Sheeeesh!


    Oh, well.  time to let the Style Police, of which I am a card-carrying-member get some dinner.  I'm sure it's going to taste grate!



    I vote for this as the Comment of the Day.

    Thank YOu!  Its a greeate honoeur!

    There's so many things I could say, butt since i am haf drunk, wy bother?

    You might appreciate this site then:

    (Although I just looked at the front page and it seems a little on the weak end this morning.)

    Just the other day I was wondering what is currently the preferred style guides for bloggers because it definitely is not the vintage Strunk & White or Gregg Reference Manual so many of us older guys learned and used professionally for decades.  

    As others have pointed out, times and styles change but since the whole point of grammar styles and rules is to facilitate communication, there really should be some generally accepted replacement before throwing the old ones out.  Some rational reasons for any changes would be helpful as well.  So, do you know what the replacements are? Maybe some links?

    Like AA, double spacing between sentences is far too engrained for me to change.  Single spacing between was one of my typing teachers' favorite corrections to mark.  Probably far easier to get the software programmers to insert a find/replace macro in the posting sequence  As for the extra space taking up extra storage space, I suggest you use a zip program. wink

    And last but not least, as for style:  I found your post title and style of presentation confrontational.  Perhaps you should have styled it more as a request for help in understanding what others are saying and less like a style policeman.  

    And perhaps perhaps is like whlst. i.e, only acceptable from certain people or alien cultures.  In which case, I invoke the cultural distinction Southern American Bible-Belt.


    In the above I tried to stick with the style(s) I remembered best.  Business-speak. Comes out very cold and formal, no?

    I noticed years ago that I tend to unconsciously mimic the style of whatever I am reading most frequently.  If I am reading Sherlock Holmes, I mimic Conan Doyle.  If I am reading Twain, I get sardonic.  

    Presently, I am reading blogs so my style now is completely fubar.


    LOL. My Gregg Reference fell apart years ago. I still have my Little, Brown Handbook from college English. It has been handy with helping kids. I just hope my android don't edit words when I post. I lost a few arguments over words with it. I enjoy reading old recipes from the 19th century. It is fun to see the spelling and Syntex.

    I might could make you the loan of my Gregg.

    You can get the latest edition of Gregg from the publisher.  Only $76 for the spiral bound one. cheeky

    It's cheaper at Amazon.

    Old receipt books are fun but sometimes the measurements can be challenging.  

    I was hounded by my clients for putting in two spaces after a period. So I changed. But when I look at printed pieces, it looks to me like they use a single space. So this may just be a holdover from typewriters that didn't have variable spacing for different letters. Or something.


    I'll go along with the apostrophe rules, but you'll never, ever get me to single space between sentences.  I can hardly stand to read pieces like that.  You might as well not punctuate at all.  If the print is small it all runs together.  I frankly don't know how that silly new rule got started, but anyone who learned to type on a non-electric typewriter (or even on an electric typewriter) cannot and will not go that single space route.

    So there.

    I still double space between sentences. I remember how wounderful it was to be given an electric Selectric typewriter that you could change a little ball that had the font on it to italic font ball. I think I ended up with a whole box of different fonts. Oh what fun we had with carbon paper and onion skin paper, typing through 5 copies. Now I type with 2 thumbs on a touch screen.

    Yes, the IBM Selectric.  A marvelous machine!  I used one when I was a secretary and it was advanced enough to have its own correct tape.  What a luxury!  And the typeball ...  You could go from Courier to the elegant Prestige Elite in just seconds by flipping a lever on top of the ball, removing it and replacing it with the new font ball.  Sweet!

    Ah, yes.  Selectrics.  Wonderful, solid machines.  And colorful too.  I remember using a red one.   One of the best parts was no big movable carriage to knock things over — like coffee cups. 

    BTW, that is a real em dash above, at least in preview it is.  Made using Windows character code Alt + 0151.

    I remember using a Selectric at one of my jobs back in the mid-80's.  It was great.  When I got my first home PC, I remember it having a weird option that you could use on one of the programs that made typing on your keyboard sound as if you were using an old typewriter.  Weird way to get people used to new technology; make it sound like old technology. 

    Excellent idea.

    Do you remember the Wangs? Pure text machines. My first encounter with typing onto pure nothingness.

    The hardest things for me were the automatic wrap-around and that I couldn't drop down to some place lower on the "page" the way I could so easily with a typewriter. Had to give up the whole idea of a "page." Also, the notion that spaces were POSITIVE things and not just empty spaces between letters.

    The first computer I worked on was the Wang that was in the mid 1980's. I had to share it with everyone that was in the office. I would stay after work just to practice. I taught my self basic so I could make forms to fill out on the Wang.

    The one I learned on was just a word processor and as heavy as an anchor.

    I still have two. I can't bear to get rid of them, but what will I do with them? Wait 'till they go up in value and sell 'em?

    I DO think that the blank page is more conducive to creativity--you sort of want to fill it up--than the blank screen. The blank screen is demoralizing because it is, literally, endless, and you'll never fill it up.

    It's a bit like eReaders. You can't FEEL how much progress you've made toward the end of the book. Maybe it's better, though, for keeping you in the moment.

    When I get writer's block, I often change to pencil and paper. Somehow, it's freeing, perhaps because it feels less like published type and thus more provisional and undoable.


    ....At a series of events called “type-ins,” they’ve been gathering in bars and bookstores to flaunt a sort of post-digital style and gravitas, tapping out letters to send via snail mail and competing to see who can bang away the fastest....

    from "Click, Clack, Ding! Sigh ..." New York Times, March 30, 2011.

    And from

    What the @#$% is a Type-IN ?

    FLASH! Son of Type-IN returns to Philadelphia on Sat., Dec. 10th, 2011. Exact start time TBA.

    Read on for some background on the subject of Type=INs….

    Some people have been asking how/what a Type-IN is, and I can only say, “It’s a typewriter jam session”, usually in a pub or cafe or bookstore with a good amount of flat space and a very good-natured management....


    And a whole lotta noise.

    I actually learned on a manual. That took some finger strength.

    And the other part...perhaps someone alluded to this we've lost contact with the paper. Yes, we feed reams into printers and photocopiers. But we no longer take the single sheet and roll it into the carriage, adjust it, and then pull it out with zip when it's done. Or is that...when its done?

    And the other part...perhaps someone alluded to this we've lost contact with the paper. Yes, we feed reams into printers and photocopiers. But we no longer take the single sheet and roll it into the carriage, adjust it, and then pull it out with zip when it's done. Or is that...when its done?

    Agree totally, Ramona.  And what is the point?  To save room?  

    Okay Perfessor Donal splain this un fer me.

    I went to grade school in the south ... Alabama ... and I remember it's and its, but I remember its' too.

    Perhaps the teacher was using its' to show where the apostrophe was placed when going plural?  But I also remember 3rd grade math and the teacher using short-cuts to teach multiplication and division which screwed me up royally to this date.

    Personally, I think it is part of that southern lexicon group ... in the same league as ya'll.

    Oh by the way, I prefer using a double space (  ) after a period (.) so it doesn't look like I'm writing a run-on sentence ... even though I do.

    mind over matter ... I don't mind because it doesn't matter.

    I went to grade school in the south ... Alabama ... and I remember it's and its, but I remember its' too.

    Are you asking for an explanation of how you learned something incorrectly in grade school in Alabama? (Sorry, I grew up in Georgia, and at the time we were something like 47th out of 50 on educational quality. Alabama being 48th was our only consolation.)

    P.S. I "learned" that AD stood for "after death". When I corrected the teacher, telling her it stood for "Anno Domini" and that it meant "in the year of our Lord", and that we could look it up in the dictionary, I got in trouble.

    You remind me of my high school.  

    My English grammar and typing teachers were good but my French teacher was a different story.  He was hired as an assistant football coach but also got assigned French.  His qualification being that he had been part of the D-Day invasion of France.  I still laugh when I remember how he pronounced 'petit dejeuner' as pet it dee june err.  I was lucky.  My uncle had also been in service in France and brought home a war bride who corrected my faulty phrasing.

    In retrospect, I recognize that so many of my teachers were really just one step ahead of the students in learning their subjects.  Lots of Federal money was to be had building big new brick schools that doubled as community fall out shelters. Then teachers were needed to fill in all the new classrooms and satisfy the curriculum requirements.  When the county population density is around 60/square mile, the pickings are kind of slim. 

    Thanks for reminding me.


    His qualification being that he had been part of the D-Day invasion of France.

    THAT made me laugh out loud.

    Ha. There are people out there. I should never post meta before traveling. The good news is, I beat the Nor'easter.

    The problem with double spaces between sentences, to me, is that when they wrap on the spaces, you get one space at the end and one space at the beginning of the next line. So it looks like an indent. I understand that typesetters hate double spaces for their own reasons.

    Excellent point about the wrap-around.

    Can we move on the M-dash?

    What is it? When do you use it? How do you make one on your computer?

    From Grammar Book:

    To form an em dash on most PCs, type the first word, then hold down the ALT key while typing 0151 on the numerical pad on the right side of your keyboard. Then type the second word. You may also form an em dash by typing the first word, hitting the hyphen key twice, and then typing the second word. Your program will [may] turn the two hyphens into an em dash for you.

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