Writing Glitch #400

Today’s glitch:

Spell out numbers (years are an exception to this, by the way) instead of using numerals: two hundred (NOT two-hundred) instead of 200.

Population, although referring to a group, is a singular noun (just one group, not more than one), so change have to has.

In the near future, we’ve discovered a way to prolong life by two hundred years, but only for a part of the population that has a specific mutation. You just found out the results of your gene test.

And now, the science-and-common-sense part of the post…

We have the ability to use gene therapy now to change the DNA of some people with genetic defects. It’s not perfect, but it isn’t fiction. In the near future, if it’s discovered that only people with a certain gene can take advantage of some extreme life-prolonging treatment, you betcha there’ll be a lot of people clamoring for gene therapy to get that gene added to their own DNA. Either that, or people who have that gene will be hated by everyone else and sometimes even killed.

Notice the indefinite article a before part of the population? I’d considered changing it to the, but then I realized it implies that the longevity treatment isn’t available to everyone who has that “specific mutation,” only to some people. Yes, folks, even such a small thing as a/an versus the can change the nuances of meaning within a sentence.




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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One Response to Writing Glitch #400

  1. curioushart says:

    An example like this makes we wonder whether the writer knows the difference. It’s like discovering pathologies in a character that you don’t think the writer intended to create.

    Liked by 1 person

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