PUGS errors can cause confusion

proofreading-secretsMy older son, Tom, is a very busy professional, so a lot of our communication takes place via e-mail. One Sunday, I asked him what he wanted me to make for dinner that evening. His response was:

When you decide what you can say I decided this and if it’s not OK that’s OK.

It took me a while to decipher that. And when I asked my son for permission to quote it, his response was, “Did I write that? What on earth does it mean?” Even he didn’t know! Well, after reading that line several times, I came up with this:

“When you decide what, you can say, ‘I decided this,’ and if it’s not OK, that’s OK.”

Pretty confusing without the punctuation, is it?

PUNCTUATION TIP: Spacing Between Sentences

In material that will be typeset (books or articles), one space, not two, follows a period (or any other punctuation mark) at the end of a sentence.

USAGE TIP: back door/backdoor

back door (noun)
“Randy pounded on Jim’s back door.”

backdoor (adjective) means “indirect” or “devious”
“She suspected the men were involved in some kind of backdoor operation.”

GRAMMAR TIP: fewer vs. less

Fewer refers to quantities/numbers.
“If you proofread your work carefully, you will get fewer rejections.”

Less refers to amounts.
“First drafts require less work than rewrites.”

SPELLING TIP: harebrained

NOTE: not hairbrained
Origin: “with no more brains than a hare”

Submitted by Kathy Ide, founder and director of the Christian Editor Connection.

For more tips on Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling (“PUGS”), and reasons it’s important for writers to polish their PUGS, see the Polishing the PUGS page on my website.