Writing Glitch #218

Today’s glitch:


Large round numbers should be spelled out, not written as numerals.

An em-dash indicates an abrupt change, not a dramatic pause, and there’s no reason for a dramatic pause in that sentence, either.

Aliens descend upon the Earth and force all humans to kill one other human a day or die, until only a hundred thousand are left. Nobody knows what they plan to do with the last hundred thousand.


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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4 Responses to Writing Glitch #218

  1. Sheron says:

    Why a comma before until? It’s not in the fanboys. Intros a subjective clause?


    • Having a go at explaining this without jargon…

      Without the comma before “until” (sorry about the quotation marks, but WordPress doesn’t let us use italics in comments), the sentence would be saying that a human refusing to kill someone each day would CONTINUE to die until the number of humans had been sufficiently reduced. Lack of a comma would make it an ongoing single action instead of cause and effect.

      (I’ll try to look up a jargon-y explanation later today, when I have more time, if you’d like.)


  2. Always educational. 🙂


  3. Pingback: Commentition Naughty November 2016 | I Read Encyclopedias for Fun

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