Garblog's Pages

Monday, December 10, 2012

My Pet Peeves: From the W Entry in Garbl's Editorial Style Manual

Here's the 21st in my alphabetical series of pet peeves--from entries in the W 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 peeves | J peeves | K and L peeves | M peeves | N peeves | O peeves | P peeves | Q and R peeves | S peeves | T peeves | U peeves | V peeves

waiter The person who takes orders and brings food in a restaurant is a waiter or server, not a waitress, waitperson, waitron or member of the waitstaff. Neither the job title nor the quality of the service depends on the sex of the server.

war "War is hell," said Civil War General William T. Sherman, no matter what it's called. Avoid euphemisms like armed conflict, armed intervention, a military solution, police action, uprising, use of force. Capitalize the word when part of the name for a specific war: World War I, World War II, the Cold War, the Korean War, the failed Vietnam War, the endless Gulf War. Also, if one country invades or attacks another country, there's no war until the other country starts defending itself, as it has a right to do.

Also, avoid diluting the meaning and realities of war by using that word in terms like war on drugs, war on women, and war on religion. Instead, reserve war for referring to battles of one country's military against another country or countries--and against its own people.

warn in advance Redundant. Simplify. Delete in advance

was, were Use was to state a fact: He was planning a vacation trip to Kauai. I was hoping to go too. But use the subjunctive verb were to express a nonexistent, desirable, hypothetical or far-fetched condition--even with a singular subject like I or heIf I were a rich man, I'd move to Kauai. If he were to plan a vacation trip, he'd go to Kauai.

we Use the editorial we (as well as us and our) when those words stand for the authors of a collaborative work. Use of those words is also acceptable to refer to an organization and its organizational elements and programs, especially in quotations, opinion pieces and informal publications, and to avoid redundancy and wordiness. Make sure it's clear who we, us and our is. Don't use the pretentious we when writing about yourself or for one person. Instead, use I, me, my and mine

weapons Other guidebooks provide more than enough advice for using weapons and weapons terminology appropriately.

weapons of mass destruction Potentially misused. If used, these nuclear, biological or chemical weapons would cause overwhelming devastation and loss of life among both civilians and military personnel. The United States and at least eight other countries build, sell and threaten to use them to boost the egos of their leaders, enrich the bank accounts of arms manufacturers, and overthrow countries that have natural resources they desire. 

Avoid using the abbreviation WMD; it minimizes the death and destruction that would come after use of these deadly weapons. Instead, shorten the phrase using nuclear weaponschemical weapons or biological weapons

weather conditions It'll be pleasant, hot, stormy or pouring buckets whether called weather or weather conditions. Simplify. Drop conditions or try climate

weatherman They're not all men, and few if any are girls. Use weather forecaster instead.

well Hyphenate as part of a compound modifier before the noun it's describing: He is a well-dressed man. But the hyphen may be eliminated when the modifying words come after the noun they're describing: She is well dressed.

what Sentences, clauses and phrases beginning with the pronoun what commonly take singular verbs when what is about "the thing that." They may take plural verbs, however, when what is about "the things that": What I long for is butterflies--if you're longing for butterflies as a group. What I long for are butterflies--if you're longing for butterflies in all their beautiful variations.

Also, beginning a sentence with what adds needless words. Delete it and simplify: I long for butterfliesI long for the butterflies. Finally, because what is often the first word in a question, beginning a sentence that's not a question with what may confuse some readers.

where ... at, where ... to Adding the prepositions at or to is redundant. Drop the unnecessary prepositions in sentences like these: Do you know where the hammer is at? He doesn't know where the concert is at? Where do you think you're going to? The phrase where it's at is slang best used when talkin' with your buddies about what's cool, what's in and what's happenin', man!

whether or not The words or not are not always necessary--because they're suggested in whether. When writing about a choice between doing something and not doing something, drop or not--or use ifShe does not know whether the candidate will support the proposal. She does not know if the candidate will support the proposal. 

To stress the alternative, however, adding or not can be useful: The City Council will consider the offer whether or not it is cost effective. Usually, it's best to keep whether or not together, especially if or not would be separated from whether by a long description of the alternative: The City Council will consider the offer whether it is cost effective or not.

while at the same time Redundant and wordy. Simplify. Change to either while or at the same time.

who, whom Often confused. Who does something, and whom has something done to it. Use whom when someone is the object of verb or preposition: The man to whom the car was rented did not fill the gas tank. Whom do you wish to see?

A preposition (such as to, at, by, for, from, in, toward, upon and with) often comes just before whomWho does something to whomWho is the word in all other uses, especially when someone takes an action as the subject of a sentence, clause or phrase: The man who rented the car did not fill the gas tank. Who is still here?

To test for correctness: Who equals he, she or they while whom equals him, her or them. Replace who or whom in the sentence with one of those pronouns. If it sounds wrong, it probably is.

who's, whose Who's is a contraction for who is or who has, not a possessive: Who's using the cellular phone? Who's been eating my radishes? For the possessive, use whoseI do not know whose galoshes these are. Whose may refer to things as well as people: The shopping mall, whose customers come from miles around, began charging for parking.

widow Widow of the late ... is redundant. Instead, use widow of ... or wife of the late ....

will, would Often confused. Use will when expressing a certainty. Use would when noting that something is conditional, that it will happen if something else happens first. The stadium will cost $362 million means the stadium has been approved by taxpayers, or the stadium board is omniscient and knows it will be approved by taxpayers (a real leap of faith). The stadium would cost $362 million means taxpayers haven't decided yet if building the stadium is worth $362 million.

Also, beware of saying something will happen unless you have total control or a crystal ball: The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. or The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m., not The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. They plan to leave on Friday, not They will leave on Friday.

-wise No hyphen when the word means "in the direction of, in the manner of" or "about": lengthwise, otherwise, slantwise, clockwise. Avoid contrived combinations: The department rates high efficiencywise. Instead, say: The department has a high efficiency rate. Or: The department is very efficient.

with reference to Wordy jargon. Change to about, for, of or on.

with regard to Wordy jargon. Change to about, for, in, of or on.

with respect to Wordy jargon. Change to about, for, of, on or with.

with the exception of (that) Wordy. Simplify. Change to besides, except for or apart from.

WMD Find weapons of mass destruction above.

worker's compensation Not workmen's compensation.

would of Incorrect. Use would have (preferred) or would've, a contraction for would have.

wreak havoc Overstated, vague, wordy and sometimes misspelled. Simplify. Omit and describe the damage, problems, confusion and chaos instead. Or try using demolish, injure or ruin instead. And don't spell it wreck havocwork havoc or reek havoc.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...