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It’s a Word, Not a Phrase!

As part of my job I proofread stuff. Now I’m a decent, but not fabulous, proofer. I’m decent because I’m detail-oriented, but not fabulous because I don’t know the rules of grammar as well as I should. I know them pretty well, but not to the level a professional proofreader or copyeditor should. So I’d never want to be a full-time proofer and would never market my skills as a professional proofreader, but I don’t mind chipping in occasionally–particularly when I know I can fix several issues.

Lately, not just in my current work proofing, but in other readings, I’ve been seeing: "can not."

Listen up everyone out there that thinks that is proper, it isn’t! It’s a WORD, people, not a phrase! It’s "cannot," not "can not!" A word; not a phrase.

Conversely, "a lot" is a phrase, not a word. It’s "a lot," not "alot." (Don’t you just love English!)

Oh! Another thing, "and" and "but" are NOT interchangeable! Hello! Just because they are both conjunctions, doesn’t mean they are equal! Ugh.

Sigh, a disclaimer: I know there are a lot of English speaking countries floating about and they might have different grammatical rules (for quotes about this, see previous blog), but the above rules are correct for U.S. English!

Whew. Just had to rant! Don’t even get me started on the differences between em-dashes, en-dashes, and hyphens. Or that whole attempt to change the rules about punctuation inside quotation marks! (Now, the funny thing is that there are probably other grammatical mistakes in this blog!)

4 comments to It’s a Word, Not a Phrase!

  • As you know, I proof for a living and that kind of thing drives me crazy too. I also see “can not” as two words very often.
    On the other hand, I keep seeing “nevermind” as one word instead of two. Arggh!
    One of my pet peeves is people running together “everyday” when it’s not an adjective. It may be an “everyday happening,” but it “happens every day,” it doesn’t “happen everyday.”
    Fun to compare notes! :) Laura

  • I probably mess up “every day;” it’s not one I think about…so I’m assuming I mess it up. ;-) As I said in the original post…my grammar ain’t what it shoulds be (but usually, it’s better than that).

  • Trust me, we all “mess up” with the grammar or punctuation, I do too! :) The ones that bug me are the ones I constantly see in my jobs, because I have to actually “fix” them so often (grin).

  • What’s REALLY bad is when one fixes a grammatical mistake in a document, only to have some other reviewer change it back to the original, incorrect grammar!!!! Talk about not knowing grammar!

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