Home > A Freelance Writer Day > English Grammar Writing Nuances

English Grammar Writing Nuances

I’m pretty much infinity plus one hours behind today, so we’ll have to keep this one kind of short. However, I amused myself while writing today at a couple of little idiosyncrasies in language that tripped me up, not because they are complicated or one of those very confusing English grammar rules, but because that they don’t necessarily come up in the proper writing context.

Before we go too far, we’ll start with a gratuitous reference to one of my article published elsewhere about Citibank ThankYou rewards. Now, moving on…

Unlike most people, I am a professional writer. That means that every day, my writing gets graded, just like when you were back in high school. My grader is not a school teacher trying to ensure that my writing is correct enough to get a passing grade on the state’s standardized writing text, but rather an editor who

a) knows just as much about correct English grammar and punctuation as any writer,

b) may very well have an advanced degree in either English or Writing,

c) probably could teach most high school English teachers a thing or two about grammar

Oh, yeah and:

d) decides whether or not the grammar I use in the writing I turn into him or her is good enough to accept my work and pay me, or that it needs to be edited and corrected before it is good enough to accept and pay me.

In other words, grammar matters to me. A lot.

That means that not only have I learned a lot about writing and grammar over the years, but I keep learning new rules and guidelines because there always seems to be another way to write something that does not fall among the rules and standards that I already know.

Long story, short – I do my best to not correct other people’s grammar no matter how terrible and I struggle each day to hit Cancel or Delete before pointing out that “your” means something that belongs to you, while “you’re” means you are.

That being said, today, I found myself on the, “Hey, wait a minute, is that right?” end of my own writing.

First came spell-check’s red squiggly underline beneath the word “triaging.” Fair enough. I’ve never looked it up. Maybe the ‘e’ is supposed to be left on the end of the word before adding the ‘ing.’  It’s unusual, but not unprecedented.

However, that spelling, “triageing” came up with a red squiggly underline as well.

That sent me to Dictionary.com which has the word triage, but nothing about making it an active verb.

From there I went to Merriam Webster’s website who had nothing for me.

And, finally, to the actual, printed, hardcover dictionary in my bookcase. It too has no record of any such word.

For well over a year now, I have been telling people, often in writing, that I was “triaging my email,” which is my way of saying desperately trying to find, and take action on, all of the important emails while sorting the remaining email into their relative levels of importance ranging from important, but not urgent, all the way down to they’ll-get-over-it, and lastly, spam.

It seems that I have been making up a word.

That’s fine for rappers and high-school girls (“Stop trying to make ‘fetch’ happen.”) but not so great for writers. Although, you can have “jackassery” when you pry it from my cold dead hands. I don’t care what Merriam, Webster, or Mrs. Jones in 4th period English say.

The Bane of My Existence

Next up, was the spell checker overload when I finished a lengthy tirade in which I, somewhat comically, continuously re-used the word, “bane.” Unfortunately, I did not use the word, “bane” at all, but rather, “bain.” Oops.

No harm, no foul, here as it wasn’t something to be professionally submitted, but it brought a smile to may face anyway, particularly because about one-half of my friends couldn’t use the word in a sentence let alone be familiar enough with it to judge the mistaken spelling.

Be that as it may, we march on. Brian Nelson is out…


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