Good morning! I’m still feeling a bit bleary-eyed after the weekend and our stint at Curium Roman Amphitheatre. We had so many late nights, relaxing after each night’s performance of Romeo and Juliet and I think the adrenalin is now draining out of me leaving me feeling like a wet rag! The upside is that we managed to raise over €30,000 for charity! Utterly fantastical!
Blogging is not journalism, bit I believe it is an adjunct to it. On their website and blog the writer is staking out their corner of the internet where they can say whatever they like. This offers the best elements of democracy and dictatorship – you write what you like, when you like, and being answerable to no one, YOU control the comments section. A delicious combination indeed! This free expression helps you to organise your thoughts, record ideas and pass on little snippets of interest to readers.
I thought I’d quite like to run a random series entitled, Editing Pen. This will be a series about our usage of words, style and how we can use them to their best advantage and most importantly – properly. The following are very simple mistakes, but commonly found in all works.
Let’s take these two words: Sociable and social.
Both these words are adjectives and both clearly have to do with the interaction between people. So what’s the difference? Put simply, the difference is that social has to do with the structure of society, whilst sociable is used to describe people.
We will therefore say that David is a sociable person when we mean that he is someone who takes pleasure in the company of others, he enjoys mixing. This is a context in which we would be better to avoid David is a social person.
Where we use social is a context in which we are considering society as a whole. For example we would say my: ‘Teenage drunkenness is a social problem.’ And we will also use the term 'social class' to discuss the standing in society of someone or of a group of people.
This clear cut distinction does however, become clouded where social is used in reference to activities in which people meet together for pleasure: ‘a social event`. Here, the adjective 'social' is not being used to describe a person but is describing an event which was held expressly to enable people to meet together and to enjoy each other`s company.
Similarly: ‘Lisa called on her neighbours for purely social reasons.’ In this sentence we are saying that the visit to her neighbours was made to further the opportunities of meeting together. This getting together of people is very much a social function. It remains true, however, that meeting together to enjoy each other`s company is clearly an activity in which people engage with society; looked at that way, it is entirely appropriate that we should use the adjective that is used to describe society (social) rather than the one that relates more directly to an individual (sociable).
So therefore, ‘l missed the last bus home, so therefore l had to stay in town overnight’. It’s a bit unfortunate, missing the last bus. And so is the use of `so therefore' to describe what happened. Combining 'so' and 'therefore' in the same phrase is very common tautology, almost a colloquialism. But that doesn`t make it right, and the good news is that it is very easy to avoid. In the example sentence we have given we can simply change the second part of the sentence to read either 'so l had to stay in town (omitting the 'therefore`) or ‘therefore I had to stay in town (omitting the so). You save a word and write better English at a stroke.
Stationary and stationery:
I remember learning this at junior school! Here we have a pair of sound-alikes: two words with different spellings and totally different meanings but which share the same pronunciation. Sound-alikes are always a rich field for spelling mistakes – partly because most spellcheckers will not pick up the difference – and stationary versus stationery is a good example. Spelt with an a stationary means to stay still; spelt with an e, stationery is all about paper, envelopes and all the other things you use when writing. If you remember that E stands for Envelopes - and that envelopes are stationery – you should easily remember which spelling has to do with writing supplies. These memory games can sound silly, but they do work and no one else has to know that you play them. I do all the time!
Substitute or replace:
Assume that, in the interests of economy, you choose to use margarine instead of butter. We can correctly say that margarine is being substituted for butter: equally well, we can say that butter is being replaced by margarine. lt would however be best to avoid saying that butter is being substituted by margarine. You could possibly say that butter is being displaced by margarine, but `displace` carries a hint that something has been removed by force. lf a manager has been displaced`, the suggestion is that he has been fired; if he has been replaced it suggests that the change is occurring because he has resigned or retired. So it would be fine for us to talk about butter being replaced by margarine, but to use 'displace' in this context is to use a word that is a little too strong for the job.
Summon or summons:
There should be sufficient difference between these two words to ensure that they do not create confusion. But it can happen. Summon, of course, is a verb. You summon someone when you exercise your authority and require them to appear somewhere – for example, to attend a meeting.
On the other hand summons is most often a noun, it is the notice you give when notifying someone that they are required to attend a court appearance. You can use summons as a verb in its legal context to mean to serve with a summons, but this is somewhat specialised usage. All this is perfectly straightforward, but you see sentences such as: 'He was summonsed to head office to meet the new Managing Director.` This sentence would be better if it said ‘summoned to head office' rather than ‘summonsed.
Summons is used as a verb only in a specialised legal sense rather than in everyday English.
These are all easy examples and so often used in the wrong context, it just takes a bit of thought beforehand.
SOON! Paperback version of The Assassins’ Village:
Can I take this opportunity to thank everyone who has recently bought my books – The Assassins’ Village is now #41 Top Rated in Kindle Store > Mystery & Thrillers > Mystery > Women Sleuths – Wonderful, a huge thank you!
And within the next three weeks I should have the first copies of the paperback version. Quite a lot of followers who have already read, The Crossing and are waiting for this new paperback version of The Assassins’ Village can reserve a signed copy by simply filling the comment form on here (under same tab as blog). For those of you further afield, once it’s on Amazon I’ll also let you know.
Have a great week everyone and thank you for stopping by to read my blog. I hope you enjoy my snippets.