Writing Glitch 1003

Today’s second glitch:

How it should look:

The once-peaceful water dwellers have suddenly declared war on a settlement that was their only true ally. No one has any idea why.

Why it should look that way:

Once-peaceful is functioning as a single compound adjective. (You don’t absolutely have to hyphenate these words, but it does make the meaning more clear.)

The predicate noun (subject of the sentence) is dwellers, which is plural, so the right possessive pronoun to go with that is their, not its.

Noone is not a real pronoun. (If seeing it as two words, no one, somehow causes you intense distress or whatever, hyphenate it as no-one, and readers will understand what you mean even though this is incorrect/nonstandard. Apparently the hyphenated version is “preferred” by the majority using UK English, but the Cambridge online dictionary doesn’t even list it as an option, nor is it listed as a “chiefly British” variation in the proint dictionary — Webster’s Encyclopedic Dictionary, 2002 edition — that I keep here in my office.)

 

 

 

 

 

About Thomas Weaver

For several years, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom (editor). I'm physically disabled, and I currently live 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 eight cats. 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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