Zombies and passive voice?

Who knew? Zombies may be helpful to English teachers! I have to admit that after years of scorn for all things zombie, I finally succumbed to watching The Walking Dead with my daughter-in-law. I was thrilled, then, to receive this suggestion about zombies and passive voice: “If you can insert ‘by zombies’ after the verb… Continue Reading

Should you use “and” or “but” to start a sentence?

One of my newsletter readers wrote to ask: Hi Bette:  Do you agree with the information below? (I’m from the old school, where I was taught never to begin a sentence with “and” or “but.”) Contrary to what your high school English teacher told you, there’s no reason not to begin a sentence with but… Continue Reading

Recently released: The Copyeditor’s Handbook (a great resource)

 The Copy Editor’s Handbook: A Guide for Book Publishing and Corporate Communications, 3rd edition, is a comprehensive resource for both new and experienced editors. The preface acknowledges the author’s intent to help new copyeditors: “This handbook is addressed to new and aspiring copyeditors who will be working on nonfiction books, journal articles, newsletters, and corporate… Continue Reading

Tour de Style Manuals

If you’d like a demonstration of democratic unproductivity, try settling writing style issues like the serial comma or the hyphenation of the word “e-mail”  in a group. Months later, you’ll still be arguing (and the national debate on health care will look tame by comparison). That’s why I recommend that each work group, department, division,… Continue Reading

Sartalics (I couldn’t make this up)

I’ll bet you have you have used sarcasm already today–a bitter, caustic, or ironic statement sometimes meant to hurt. The word comes from the Greek root “to tear [flesh].” In spoken language, it’s usually possible to indicate sarcasm by body language or intonation. For example, here are two statements (the second would be verbalized as… Continue Reading