Monday, December 29, 2008

Editing Tip of the Week: All the Right Words

Sometimes the easiest words confuse us. We say them all the time, but when we write them down, the words don’t look right. Is already one word or two? While we’re on the subject, is all right two words or one?

According to the Chicago Manual of Style, there are uses for both already and all ready. Already refers to time, as in Did you already buy the tickets? All ready refers to preparation, as in Are those documents all ready? But Chicago states that all right is the correct use, and urges us to avoid alright.

This all makes sense when we take the time to think about it, and these are easy rules to remember. A simple rule also applies to the use of altogether vs. all together. Altogether is used to mean entirely or whollythe show was altogether disastrous. All together is used for the unity of time or place, as in We were all together for the celebration.

If we take a moment to think about what we’re really saying, we will avoid misusing some of the more basic words. That leaves a lot more time to focus on the bigger words.

And yes, a lot is two words, not one.

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