AmEditing

The absurd gems that one copy editor keeps out of print.
See more of my wordly hijinks at Logophilius.
You knew Albert Einstein was smart because he was so wrinkled.
Wizened means “dry, shrunken and wrinkled,” not “wise.”

You knew Albert Einstein was smart because he was so wrinkled.

Wizened means “dry, shrunken and wrinkled,” not “wise.”

You can criticize Mel Gibson for his hatred of semantics, but keep in mind that you’re no “road scholar” yourself.

You can criticize Mel Gibson for his hatred of semantics, but keep in mind that you’re no “road scholar” yourself.

You should be wary (think “beware”) of fire hazards.

Your readers, on the other hand, are weary (think “to wear down”) of your tenuous grasp on the English language.

KISS Principle

We’ll even assist you with filling out financial aid applications …

How about this instead?

We’ll even help you fill out financial aid applications …

Keep it as clear and simple as possible.

"…is in need of…"

needs, requires, demands, expects, insists on, threatens mass destruction if he doesn’t soon receive … anything but yet another “is” in the predicate. Please!

Whenever you find yourself in an argument over whether the plural of octopus is octopi or octopuses, you’re wrong. It’s octopodes.

If you find yourself typing “gratefulness,” stop and give it a second thought.

(And feel free to show your gratitude for this editorial gem.)

Your use of “prior to” comes before I edit the phrase out.

Please remember the difference between ordinance and ordnance. You can complain about both at a town council meeting, but only an ordinance should be brought to the meeting.

I’d like a pseudo- on bi- with a side of onion re-s.
What they mean (I hope) is prix fixe, which is pronounced a lot like “prefix” but is something entirely different. It means “fixed price” in English, which makes me wonder whether I shouldn’t start haggling over the price of any meal that isn’t marked prix fixe.

I’d like a pseudo- on bi- with a side of onion re-s.

What they mean (I hope) is prix fixe, which is pronounced a lot like “prefix” but is something entirely different. It means “fixed price” in English, which makes me wonder whether I shouldn’t start haggling over the price of any meal that isn’t marked prix fixe.

You ever meet a religious nut who just seems, well, kind of dizzy? Now we know why. (There but for the grace of God spin I.)

You ever meet a religious nut who just seems, well, kind of dizzy? Now we know why. (There but for the grace of God spin I.)

The wonderful Acknowledgments page from Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory’s Crown of Vengeance.

The wonderful Acknowledgments page from Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory’s Crown of Vengeance.

Without healthy hooves and legs, you may not be able to ride your horse.

This isn’t a misplaced modifier … if you’re writing about satyrs.

If comments are made that might be useful, make note of them.”

If sentences are written that might be annoying, make a mockery of them.

Two abbreviations you don’t want to mix up

IUD and IED

"Jenny had an IED implanted last week. But let’s not dwell on how she died, but remember how she lived.”

"Pentagon officials believe that the defused roadside IUD discovered by UN peacekeeping forces my have been responsible for two young boys in the nearby city of Kandahar.”