Writing Glitch #246

Today’s glitch:


This example shows how the word as can be used incorrectly (or at least confusingly). I know (strongly suspect) the writer intended it to mean because rather than while, but that’s not what the sentence actually says. I’m going to remove all ambiguity by changing the word itself.

This peasant has brown, frizzy hair and glinting green eyes. He has a sorrow about him because his parents were murdered in a robbery gone wrong when he was a child.

(WordPress’ spell check informs me that frizzy isn’t a real word. Webster’s Dictionary informs me the word dates back to 1864, at least, and that it is spelled the way it appears in this blog post. Gee, which one should I trust more…?)


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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6 Responses to Writing Glitch #246

  1. M. Oniker says:

    :::raises hand and hopes the teacher calls on her::: I play along with these. I totally missed the “as” and am probably guilty of the same. A question about commas: I wrote, “This peasant has brown, frizzy hair and glinting, green eyes. He has a sorrow about him, as his parents were murdered in a robbery gone wrong when he was a child.” Are my extra commas incorrect? Correct, but just bad? Stunningly wonderful?

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right about the comma after “sorrow about him.” The added comma there is the other way to make that sentence correct (the way to fix it without changing any of the words).

      The comma after “glinting” isn’t necessary, but it isn’t wrong, either. (Sometimes even punctuation is a matter of personal taste.)


      • M. Oniker says:

        Is the comma after “brown” also optional? An old neuron is trying to remember if I was taught that if there are two adjectives, you place a comma. Is that getting passe? Like who/whom?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Sometimes it’s a personal judgement call on commas between adjectives.

          There’s also a weird rule/guideline (not taught, by the way — we’re supposed to “just know” this stuff somehow) about the order for TYPES of adjectives. That may be why “brown, frizzy hair” looks like it needs a comma (as would green, glinting eyes”), but “frizzy brown hair” wouldn’t (and neither does “glinting green eyes”). I’ll see if I can track down the inforgraphic-thing about adjective order…

          The basic guideline, though, is this: If you can reverse the order of the adjectives and have the sentence make sense, they’re coordinate and need a comma between ’em. If one adjective modifier the other adjective instead of the noun, though, you don’t use a comma.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Commentition Decadent December 2016 | I Read Encyclopedias for Fun

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