Last week, I mentioned style sheets for authors and editors.
This week, I thought it would be fun to give you an exercise to determine some
of the smaller details that can be included in your style sheet by offering a
grammar pop quiz:
In the following paragraph, I’m going to provide options for
often misspelled or misused words, capitalization, and other fun things writers
and authors need to remember or to write down. See how many you can get
correct:
The morning sun rose over the dome of the Capital/Capitol where the doctor came
to seek counsel/council with the senator/Senator from his state. The
medical fraud in his hometown was a byproduct/by-product
of greed. Sonograms, x-rays/X-rays/xrays,
and other tests were too/to/two
expensive for most patients. People lay/lied/laid
there now dying because of improper treatment. How could this not affect/effect even the least caring of
people? After spending awhile/a while
in his own nightmarish visit in the hospital’s ER, the doctor sought out an
investigative reporter at The Orlando
Sentinel/the Orlando Sentinel/the Orlando
Sentinel
newspaper to expose the fraud. The doctor took a backseat/back seat in the investigation
until the evidence indicated a hoard/horde
of people was/were forced to seek
treatment elsewhere. The doctor couldn’t
care less/could care less
if he lost his right to practice in that hospital—or
any hospital in his state. He couldn’t allow this to go on any more/anymore.
The correct answers and rules are given below, but don’t
cheat. Use this as a measure of which items belong on your personal style
sheet/checklist. Finish the quiz and check your answers. If you missed any, those belong on your style sheet.
Capital/Capitol:
Remember that a capitol is where a legislative assembly meets. A clue to this
is that most capitols have a dome, which is spelled with an “o.” As a reminder:
capital is the correct usage for a city that is the capital of the state.
Counsel/council: The
correct form here is “counsel.” “Council” refers to a group brought together to
deliberate or to rule, as in “town council.”
Senator/senator: Here,
the correct form is lower case. Why? The word “the” gives us that clue. If our
doctor had a specific senator to see, such as Senator Weldon or if he were
calling out to the senator, “Do you have a moment, Senator?” the word would be
capitalized.
Byproduct/by-product:
Just like the words “old-fashion” and “good-bye,” this word is always
hyphenated.
x-rays/X-rays/xrays:
This is one I see noted incorrectly very often. The correct for is X-ray.
To/too/two: As
the intent here is that the amount is excessive, our proper form is “too.”
Lay/lied/laid: I
gave a hint for you in this one. Did you catch it? The word now indicates it is
in the present. Our correct form is “lay.”
Affect/effect:
This one gives me so much trouble. “Affect” is correct here, as it is a verb.
While there is an exception to the rule, “effect” is usually a noun. Affect” is
usually a verb.
Awhile/A while: Here,
the proper use is the noun form “a while” because I’m actually saying that the
doctor spent a period of time at the ER. “Awhile” is a verb meaning “for a
period of time.”
The Orlando
Sentinel/the Orlando Sentinel/the Orlando
Sentinel:
The proper form here is the last one. Note that “the” is not
included in the italics.
backseat/back seat: “Backseat”
is always one word.
hoard/horde: The
correct term here is “horde,” which means a crowd of people. “Hoard” means to
stash or to hide.
Was/were: Because
a “horde” is a collective noun, indicating one horde, the proper use here is “was.”
couldn’t care
less/could care less:
If you could care less, you really aren’t making a
point, are you? To say you couldn’t care less means there isn’t another ounce
of caring in you regarding whatever it is you’re discussing.
any more/anymore:
The correct term here is “anymore” which means “any longer.” “Any more”
actually refers to “any additional.”
How did you do? If you missed a couple, don’t worry. Writers
all have certain words, phrases, rules, etc., that stop us. That’s the beauty
of the style sheet. Even when we can’t remember, we have the rule written down
somewhere for quick and easy access.

Happy editing.

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