Monday, August 27, 2012

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

Here's the eighth in my alphabetical series of pet peeves -- from entries in the I 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 | H peeves


I It's often OK to refer to yourself as I (and me) in your writing and speaking. It's called "writing in first person." It can add credibility and personality, and it can eliminate passive, wordy sentences. But don't overdo it or write about yourself as though you're another person.

If you've made it clear you're describing your feelings, beliefs and opinions, avoid overusing I feel, I believe and I think. Simply state your feeling, belief or thought without introducing it with those words. And when expressing your opinion or describing your actions or feelings, squelch the use of inane terms like this writer, the author, one, and we (when we is only you). The same guidance applies to using me. Also see I, me below.

iced tea Iced tea is tea with ice in it. It's not tea made of ice. Add the d to ice and drop in a lemon and perhaps some sugar.

if and when Wordy, contradictory. Simplify. Use one or the other, not both. Use if to express uncertainty that something will happen and when to note that something will happen, the unknown being the time or date.

illegitimate A child of unmarried parents is not illegitimate; do no use that insensitive term. If reference to the child's status is essential, use an expression such as whose parents weren't married, whose mother was not married, or was born to an unmarried teenager.

illegal immigrant Used to describe a person who lives in a country in criminal or civil violation of immigration law. An acceptable variation: living in the country without legal permission. Also commonly used to describe a person who may have entered a country illegally. As with any term implying illegal behavior, avoid using these terms without reliable, official information about a person's true status. Acceptable alternatives: undocumented immigrant, undocumented worker. Unless used in a direct quotation, don't use the dehumanizing terms illegal alien, an illegal, or illegals

I, me Often confused. The pronoun I (like he, she, we and they) is always the subject of sentences and clauses. And the pronoun me (like him, her, us and them) is always the object of verbs and prepositions. In other words, I is more likely to be at the front of a sentence or clause (typically before the verb). And me is more likely to be at the back of a sentence or clause (typically after the verb): I hugged her. He talked to me. She hugged him. We talked to them. They talked to us.

Also, please remember these correct uses when the sentence has a conjunction (such as and or or):He talked to Linda and me. Linda and I talked to him. The horse carried Debbie and me. Debbie and I rode the horse. Incorrect: He talked to Linda and I. Linda and me talked to him. The horse carried Debbie and I. Debbie and me rode the horse. To be polite, me or I usually follows the conjunction.

To test for correctness: Remove the other person's name and the conjunction from the sentence, leaving the pronoun; if it sounds incorrect, it probably is. For example, you wouldn't want to be heard saying, "He talked to I" or "Me talked to him" or "Me rode the horse." Also see I above; it's I, it's me below.

impact Formal and vague. Do not use as a verb to mean "affect." Instead, consider using simpler affect or influence--or be more descriptive: The tax cut will affect [or reducehuman services. As a verb, impact means "to force tightly together, pack or wedge, or to hit with force." Reserve impacted for wisdom teeth: impacted tooth

As a noun, impact means "a forceful contact or collision." It also means "the force of impression or operation of one thing on another," but consider using simpler effect or influence instead: The uncertainties of the Bush economy had a negative effect [instead of impacton consumer confidence.

Impactful is not a word. To replace that business jargon, use an adjective like influential, powerful, effective or memorable.

impeach Often confused and sometimes misused. To impeach means "to charge a public official with misconduct in office." It does not mean "to remove an official from office." When an official is impeached, he or she is formally accused of misconduct. The official must then go through a legal (and probably political) process that may lead to removal from office if found guilty of misconduct. Impeach also means "to challenge a person's motives or discredit a reputation."

implement Jargon. Don't overuse this word. Instead, try a form of the verbs begin, carry out, follow, fulfill, do, put in place, put into use, put into effect, start or set up, or the noun tool.
imply, infer Often confused. Imply means "to show, hint at or suggest," not to express. Infer means "to conclude or deduce from evidence or facts." Writers or speakers imply in the words they use. A listener or reader infers something from the words: He implied in his speech. I inferred from her comment. Also, consider using simpler show, hint at or suggest instead of imply.

in actual fact Pompous, redundant and wordy. Simplify. Delete, or use actually, in fact or really, if necessary. See in fact below.

in addition to Wordy. Simplify. Try besides or and

in a ... manner Omit needless words. Simplify. Try dropping this phrase and making an adverb of the other word: carelessly instead of in a careless manner.
incent, incentivize Incentive is a fine noun. Incent and incentivize are inane business jargon. Instead, use the verbs motivate, stimulate, encourage and inspire--or use provide incentives.
including, like, such as Use including and such as when listing examples or when the items that follow are only part of the total; don't list everything or end the list with words such as and moreand othersetc.He's a fan of British rock groups such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. [He's a fan of British groups that include The Beatles and the Stones.] 

Use like when listing similar things or similarities: He's a fan of British rock groups like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. [Though he's a fan of groups that resemble The Beatles and the Stones, he might not be a fan of The Beatles and the Stones.] 

If the words that follow including, like and such as are essential to the meaning of a sentence, do not put commas before (or after) the phrase. But if the words that follow these terms are not essential, commas are appropriate. (Words are nonessential if they can be removed without changing the meaning of the sentence.) Also, if a nonessential like, such as or including phrase is short (just three or four words), it's OK to drop the comma. If you use a comma before a nonessential phrase, you also must end the phrase with a comma before continuing the sentence.

indicate Overstated, unless you mean "to give a signal, to point out, to point at." Otherwise, simplify and replace with show, say, tell or suggest.

indication Overstated. Simplify. Try sign, clue or hint.
individual, individuals Overstated. Try person or people. Use individual only if you're trying to distinguish one person from a group.

in excess of Verbose. Simplify. Try more than or exceeding instead.

in fact Usually unnecessary unless you must confirm the accuracy of what you're writing. Use sparingly.

infant An infant is formal, a baby is not. Simplify. And stay young.

inform Formal. Simplify. Try tell or write instead.

in general Wordy and often unnecessary. Use sparingly.

in harm's way Pretentious, wordy euphemism. If a politician sends troops to war, those brave men and women are in danger, exposed, unprotected, vulnerable or unsafe, not in harm's way.
in, into, in to In shows place or position within: She was in the shoe store. Into shows motion or movement toward a location: She went into the shoe store. Use in to when in is an adverb that modifies a verb, adjective or other adverb: He turned himself in to the police. Beware this type of absurdity: He turned himself into the police (despite what a vigilante might want to do). 

Usage tip: If you can drop the in without losing the meaning, the term you want is in toBring the candidates [in] to me, then we'll all go [in] to the examination room.

in lieu of Pompous jargon. Simplify. Try forrather than or instead of but not in view of or in place of.
in most cases, in most instances Wordy. Avoid. Think about replacing with often, mostly, usually ormost of these.

in order to, in order for, in order that Wordy. Simplify by dropping in order. For in order that, also try for or so.

in other words Wordy. Simplify. Try namely or that is. Or consider rewriting the earlier statement in plain English so this phrase and the additional explanation are not needed.

in place of Wordy. Simplify. Try for.

input, output, throughput Avoid these words. They may be used as nouns in certain technical fields, such as computer processing, electricity and economics. Depending on the context, information may be a good synonym for all three words. Instead of input, try ideas, advice, comments, thoughts, views, opinions, money, effort or power. Instead of output, try work, goods, product, byproduct or result. Instead of throughput, try material.

inquire Overstated and formal. Simplify. Try ask.

in reference to Wordy jargon. Simplify. Try about, for or on.

in regard to Wordy and formal. Try about, on or for.

inside of Wordy. Simplify. Drop of.

insofar as Wordy, formal and sometimes incorrect. Simplify. Try because if you mean "because" or so far as if you mean "to the extent that"; or change to in, of, on, for or about.

in spite of Wordy. Try replacing with simpler despite.

in spite of the fact that Wordy. Simplify. Change to though, although or yet

institute (v.) Overstated and formal. Simplify. Try using introduce, start, begin or set up.

in support of Wordy. Simplify. Change to for.
interface Jargon. Acceptable as a computer term only when a more specific word is not available. Don't use as a verb. Try using a form of interact, meet, collaborate, work with or work together.

in terms of Wordy. Simplify. Try as, by, in, of, for about, with, under or through, or omit by rewriting sentence: The job was appealing in terms of salary. The salary made the job appealing.

international Abbreviate as intl., but avoid using except in charts and maps with limited space. Ending period preferred. Do not include an unneeded, silly apostrophe: Int'l. Capitalize if it's an abbreviation of a proper noun.

in that regard Wordy. Delete, or try about that.

in the amount of Wordy. Consider omitting, or try replacing with for. Change: She got a check in the amount of $300. To: She got a check for $300. If necessary, use amount of to refer to a general quantity: They had a large amount of work to do

in the context of Cliche. Try omitting, or use in or about.

in the course of Wordy. Simplify. Try during, while, in or at. Incorrect: Both opinions were given in the course of the debate.

in the event that Wordy. Simplify. Replace with if.

in the final (last) analysis Wordy cliche. Simplify. Delete or try finally.

in the (very) near future Wordy and vague. Simplify. Change to soon or shortly, or be specific about the time or date.

in the neighborhood of, in the region of, in the vicinity of Wordy. Simplify. Replace with about, nearly, in, near or close to.

in the wake of Wordy cliche. Simplify. Try after, immediately after, behind or following.

in view of (the fact that) Wordy. Simplify. Replace with although, as, because or since.

irony, sarcasm Sometimes confused. Both terms (as well as ironic and sarcastic) describe situations or use words that are directly opposite of what's expected or meant. And both can involve use of humor. But sarcasm and sarcastic jokes usually mock and ridicule in a hurtful way.

irregardless A redundant, nonstandard combination of irrespective and regardlessRegardless is correct, or try even if.

issue Overstated to mean a "problem or difficulty." Simplify. Use one of those words instead, and saveissue for discussing a controversial topic or matter in dispute. That topic or matter is at issue, not in issue. You could also call it a dispute or a controversy

it When writing about a company, a business, a university, a country, a department within a company or another organization, use it (not they) and singular verbs: The Acme Advertising Agency won the Distinguished Achievement Award for its creative TV commercials. It also earned a Certificate of Merit in the radio commercial category.

it appears, it would appear that Wordy and weak. Simplify. Leave out or try it seems or apparently.

it is important (interesting) to note (mention, realize, 
recognize, remember, say, understand) that Wordy. Simplify. Delete, or drop it is important (interesting) to.

it is probable Wordy. Simplify. Replace with probably.
It's I, It's me, It is I, It is me The debate goes on. It is I or It's just Mike and I is favored in formal, grammatically correct writing. But It is me or It's just Mike and me is favored in casual, informal writing. Writing authorities aren't unanimous in recommending one or the other. Most acknowledge that It is I sounds stuffy and stilted. And some say that It is me is so common in our living, changing language--especially in conversation--that we should accept it as correct. Also, consider rewriting sentences so they don't begin with the wordy, weak It is, especially in formal or business writing; that would eliminate the I/me question: Just Mike and I are still in the office.
its, it's Often confused or misspelled. Its is the possessive form of the pronoun it, meaning "belonging to it." The possessive its never takes an apostrophe: Mary had a little lamb; its fleece was white as snow. It's is a contraction that means "it is" and sometimes "it has." The contraction always takes an apostrophe: It's a beautiful day. It's gotten out of hand. If you often mix up these words, consider using only it is or it has and its; drop it's. Finally, use its' only when you're trying to show poor spelling skills or confuse your readers. It's not a word, and no one will know its meaning.


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