Back to Basics: A Compilation of Tips and Pet-peeves in Writing

If you missed it on Twitter the last night, Kas90 put on her teacher glasses and got to work, teaching the class some of her pet-peeves in writing, which led to getting down to the nitty-gritty basics of grammar and punctuation. She covered things ranging from misused words, dialogue / action tags, semicolons, and commas. If you missed it, or you just need a refresher, you’re in luck! Here is a post covering two of the topics she discussed!

Misused Words:

Breathe vs. Breath – You breathe in. You take a breath. You never “catch your breathe.”

Lose vs. Loose – Lose is when you have lost something. Loose is when something isn’t tight. A silly, yet effective, way to remember it: When you ‘lose’ something, the extra ‘o’ is lost. And something is ‘loose’ because there are too many ‘o’s.

To, Too, & Two – To is a preposition or infinitive marker. Ex: I went to the store. Too is another way to say ‘as well’ or ‘also.’ It also expresses that something is excessive. Ex: I went to the store, too. I bought too much milk. Two is quantity. Ex: There are two apples.

Led vs. Lead – Led is the past tense of lead. Ex: Edward led me down the hallway. Edward is going to lead me to the classroom.

Its vs. It’s – Its is the possession. Ex: The doll was wearing its hat. It’s is the contraction of it is. Ex: It’s cold outside.


(Quick note: an independent clause contains a subject and a predicate. Ex: I (subject) love (predicate) you.  More examples of independent clauses: I left. I bought an apple. I made coffee. You smiled. It was cold. – An independent clause can stand alone as a sentence.)

Think of semicolons being like periods – they separate two independent clauses.

Ex: I went to the store. It was busy. ← Periods used to make two sentences.
I went to the store; it was busy. ← Semicolon makes it one sentence, so ‘it’ is not capitalized.

You never use a semicolon if a coordinating conjunction is present. What is a coordinating conjunction, you ask? Remember this: FANBOYS. (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) If a coordinating conjunction is present, you would use a comma.

Ex: I went to the store, and it was busy. I wanted to go, but I couldn’t afford it.
*notice that there are two independent clauses present.

This is wrong: I wanted to tell you; but you were ignoring me.

Did these tips clear anything up for you? The rest of last night’s tips will be posted later this week. Make sure you follow @emergencybeta so you don’t miss the next lesson!

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