Category Archives: Writing tips

Where to put the “S”

Do not capitalize "daylight saving time": "She forgot that clocks would 'spring forward' for daylight saving time." Note that it's "saving," not "savings."
"Spook" can mean "ghost" or "spy," but it's also been used as a racist slur for Black people. Consider context and alternatives before using it. For example, you can use "eerie" or "scary" instead of "spooky."
To know which version of a pronoun to use in a sentence ("I" vs. "me," for example), you need to determine whether the noun it is replacing is the subject of the sentence or an object in it. Subjects carry out the verb of a sentence, while objects receive the action of the verb. Subject pronouns are I, she, he, they, we and who; object pronouns are me, her, him, them, us and whom. "You" is both an object and subject pronoun. In the sentence, "Vivian gave Grayson the toy," Vivian is the subject, while Grayson is the object of "gave." In a sentence such as, "Kat and I are going," using "I" is correct. But it's not correct in a construction such as, "That works for Kat and I," because "that" is the subject and "Kat and I" are objects. If you're still unsure, try this trick when dealing with multiple objects: Take out the other objects and use only the pronoun; for example, you wouldn't say, "That works for I." So the correct sentence would be: "That works for Kat and me."

Grammar basics: Putting me first

The terms "Hispanic" and "Latino/Latina/Latinx/Latine" are not always interchangeable. "Hispanic" refers to people who come from or whose ancestors come from a Spanish-speaking country, while "Latino" refers to people from Latin America. "Latino/Latina/Latinx/Latine" is often the preferred term, but ask for a person's preference. It's OK to use "Latinx" or "Latine" without further explanation to refer to a mixed-gender group or if someone identifies that way. "Latine" can be more suitable for Spanish pronunciation.

Another reminder about labels

Capitalize "Indigenous" when referring to people: "She advocated for the rights of Indigenous peoples in her speech." Avoid references to Indigenous peoples that imply they belong to a state or country, so use a phrase such as "Indigenous people of" instead of a possessive. However, always opt for specifying a tribe when possible: "Members of the Chumash tribe spoke in favor of the measure."

Indigenous Peoples’ Day

"Summertime," "springtime," "wintertime" and "falltime" are each one word. (And yes, "falltime" is a word, though "autumntime" is not.)

It’s falltime

A screenshot of a message from Stylebot on Slack that reads: Although "irregardless" is a word, it's not very common in writing. Avoid it except in quoted material: "He said he wanted to move forward 'irregardless of the consequences.'"

It’s a “real word”

A screenshot of a message from Stylebot on Slack that reads: The phrase is "wreak havoc," not "wreck havoc." The past tense is "wreaked havoc": "The storm wreaked havoc on the small island."

Do you bring about havoc or ruin it?

A screenshot of a message from Stylebot on Google Chrome that reads: "Rack" and "wrack" are sometimes used interchangeably, but they have different meanings. One of the meanings of "rack" is to stretch violently or torture, while "wrack" means to destroy. So the correct sayings are "nerve-racking" and "rack your brain": "She spent two nerve-racking hours before the interview racking her brain to recall specific examples from her past work that would help her answer the questions she anticipated."

Off the rack

A screenshot of a message from Stylebot on Slack that reads: "The idiom "if worse comes to worst" originated as "if worst comes to worst," and both can be used. But "worse comes to worst" is more common in modern usage: "If worse comes to worst, we can drive instead of fly."

It’s come to worse