Writing Glitch #300

Today’s glitch:


Would you believe the meaning of a sentence can be changed drastically by where you place the word only? (Yes, as a matter of fact, I did have a post about this the other day. Preparing this post is what made me realize the topic needed to be addressed in more detail.) The example is saying that people grow old and die when they find their purpose, but that nothing else happens… Change the word order, though, and we can make the same sentence say what it’s supposed to mean: people don’t grow old and die until they find their purpose.

There is no such thing as a millennia (note the spelling: two n‘s, not one), because millennia is plural; the correct singular form is millennium.

People grow old and die only when they have found their purpose in life. You have lived for a millennium when you notice a strand of grey hair.

(Due to fiction projects Mercenary Proofreader has been working on lately, there is stronger-than-normal temptation to snark about individuals who think a millennium is an especially long time… 🙂 )




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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