Writing Glitch #162

Today’s glitch:


Don’t capitalize an article (a, an, the) when it’s not the first word of a sentence or of the title of a book, movie, etc.

The first sentence in the example is compound, so it need a comma before the conjunction and.

Predate is not hyphenated.

They are known as the Old Ones, and they predate the coming of Man. Where they come from and why they visit is a mystery.

Why is there no comma in the second sentence? Why does it say is a mystery rather than are a mystery? So glad you asked… Flip the sentence around: It is a mystery where they come from and why they visit. That makes sense, right? However, if you’d written, It are a mystery where they come from… That is obviously not correct. Of course, you could also change the sentence to, Where they come from and why they visit are mysteries (notice the change in noun: mysteries, plural), and thus avoid the issue.

When referring to the human species, Man is often capitalized for clarity. (I know it’s generally not considered appropriate these days to refer to humankind as mankind, but this example has a sort of pseudo-Lovecraftian vibe anyway.)




About Thomas Weaver

I’m a writer and editor who got into professional editing almost by accident years ago when a friend from university needed someone to copyedit his screenplay about giant stompy robots (mecha). Having discovered that I greatly enjoy this kind of work, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use ever since as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom. I'm physically disabled, and for the past several years, I’ve lived with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have six cats. (The preferred term is "Insane Cat Gentleman.") I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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