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Monday, August 20, 2012

My Pet Peeves: From the H Entries in Garbl's Editorial Style Manual

Here's the eighth in my alphabetical series of pet peeves -- from entries in the H section of Garbl's Editorial Style Manual. My style manual covers editorial issues like abbreviations, addresses, capitalization, English grammar, Internet terminology, numbers, plurals, possessives, punctuation, spelling and word usage. It focuses on U.S. standards for spelling, punctuation, definitions, usage, style and grammar.

Earlier blogs:

A peeves
B peeves
C peeves
D peeves
E peeves
F peeves
G peeves

half-mast, half-staff On ships and at naval stations ashore, flags are flown at half-mast. At other government facilities and elsewhere ashore, flags are flown at half-staff.

hanged, hung Sometimes misused. Hung is the past tense of hang for most uses. Pictures, coats and sometimes juries are hung. When writing about capital punishment (but not accidents, murders or suicides), use hanged. When hanged by the government, a person is "put to death by tying a rope around the neck and suddenly suspending the body to snap the neck or strangle the person."

harass, harassment Commonly misspelled. One r and two s's.

hardly Commonly misused. A negative meaning is built in to hardly. So drop the redundant 't from can't hardly and not from not hardly--or try using barely or scarcely. No not before those words either. Also, change without hardly to almost without. And consider using simpler cannot instead of can hardly

has no Wordy. Simplify. Try replacing with lacks.

have an effect on Wordy. Simplify with a form of the verb affect.

he or she, he/she In avoiding the outdated use of the generic hehe or she is much preferred over he/she, as are his or hers over his/hers and him or her over him/her. Of course, the pronoun order can be reversed: she or he, hers or his, her or him. To avoid overuse of he or she and its other forms, use a plural construction: All participants must supply their own tools instead of Each participant must supply his or her own tools. See his, his/her entry below.

her Do not use this pronoun to refer to nations or ships, except in quotations. Use it instead.

highfalutin Ridiculously pompous or pretentious, often expressed in high-flown unimportant or meaningless language. If you want to communicate well, banish highfalutin language (and behavior).

hippie, hippy Although followers of the counterculture in the '60s and '70s [like me] are now middle-aged, they probably prefer hippie to hippy. Save hippy for writing about someone with big hips, whatever the chosen lifestyle.

his, her, his/her Avoid using the singular pronouns his or her in generic references. Also avoid the awkward construction his/her. Instead, rewrite the sentence. Changing singular pronouns to plural pronouns often works well. Change: A chef should taste his/her creations before serving them. To: Chefs should taste their creations before serving them. See he or she, he/she entry above.

historic, historical, history Use historic for places, things and events of great significance, that stand out in history. Any occurrence in the past is a historical event. Avoid using historic to describe events that have little or questionable historical importance. Past history is redundant. Also, because the consonant h is typically sounded in these words, the article a comes before them, not an.

hoi polloi, hoity-toity Sometimes confused or misused. Use the hoi polloi to refer to "the common people," though it's considered patronizing and contemptuous. People who are hoity-toity -- arrogant and condescending -- are likely to refer to the hoi polloi.

hold a meeting Wordy. Replace with meet or describe a particular action. Change: The committee will hold a meeting Nov. 16. To: The committee will meet Nov. 16, or The committee will consider the proposal Nov. 16.

holocaust, the Holocaust Lowercase when writing about any event with vast or total destruction of things and people, especially by fire. Capitalize when writing about the methodical Nazi killing of more than 6 million European Jews before and during World War II.

home, house Not interchangeable, or as the saying goes: "A house is not a home." House is more precise when referring to a building in which people live, while home is more precise when referring to households or places of residence--which can include apartments, trailers, condominiums and bridge underpasses.

hopefully Ignore the rapidly dwindling number of style gurus who think it is incorrect to modify the meaning of an entire sentence by beginning it with the adverb hopefully. As other style experts note, adverbs such as apparently, fortunately and obviously are already used correctly to modify entire sentences. And hopefully can be used that way too! Thus, go ahead and use hopefully to mean "it is hoped, let us hope, we hope" or "I hope" when describing feelings toward the entire sentence: Hopefully, the war will end quickly with few civilian casualties.

Hopefully may also be used to mean "hopeful or with hope or in a hopeful manner" when describing how the subject of a sentence feels: Hopefully, the dog sat by the dinner table. (The dog is hopeful.)Hopefully, Carlos emailed his request for a vacation. (Carlos is hopeful.)

host, hosted Acceptable as a verb but consider using synonyms like organize, hold, give and entertain.

however When using however to mean "nevertheless" at the beginning a sentence, always follow it with a comma: However, an alternative solution might be better. Using but instead is simpler and correct, but no comma is necessary after but. As an alternative, consider pausing early in the sentence and inserting however between commas: The buses, however, carried more people than they did last year. 

When using however to mean "in whatever way" or "to whatever extent", do not follow it with a comma at the beginning of a sentence: However most people think, he'll probably do what his advisers suggest.

hyphen [Please see my earlier blog on this punctuation mark.]

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