Thursday, January 17, 2013

Today's Writing Tip Is Going to My Parents' House

Apostrophes can be tricky and, as a manuscript editor, one of the most common errors I see is the misspelling of the term "my parents' house." Most of the writers that I work with are apt to spell the term "my parent’s house." Why is that usually wrong? And when is it right?

It's wrong because most of the time, but certainly not always, we have two parents. Therefore the apostrophe goes after the term "parents" because the house belongs to the parents. It's like saying, "I'm going to the squirrels’ hideout." If there is only one squirrel, we can say, "the squirrel’s hideout"; otherwise, we use the plural.

Likewise for parents. If our parents are divorced, separated, widowed or otherwise reduced from two to one, it's appropriate and absolutely correct to write, "I went over to my parent’s house." But chances are you're not going to say that because it's pretty formal. When you're referring to both your mother and father, you’re likely to say, "parents" whereas if you’re talking about one parent, you'll probably say "my mom," "my stepmom," or "my dad." For example, "I went to my mom's house."

One way to catch this mistake is to keyword your manuscript or article at the end and look for the word "parent’s." Then you can tell if the context is correct.

Sigrid Macdonald is the author of three books, including Be Your Own Editor (, and is both a line-by-line and a content editor for books, articles, magazines, and essays. Visit her at  

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Today's Writing Tip Is on Exclamation Marks!!!

Sometimes people use too many exclamation marks. When they do, it may detract from the impact of a dramatic statement. It's best to use exclamation marks sparingly and to save them for emphasis.

For example, "John returned home from work and turned on the TV! He was so hungry that he ate his dinner standing at the counter! Then he wondered where his wife was; he smelled something odd and went into the garage and saw that she was sitting in the car with the engine on!" Clearly, the last line would have more punch if it were the only one with an exclamation.
Other people shy away from using exclamation marks at all. They think they look juvenile. I'm not one of those. I am fond of the exclamation mark, but I use it judiciously and I never use two or three in a row.

Sigrid Macdonald is the author of three books, including Be Your Own Editor and two short stories which she wrote under the pen name Tiffanie Good. Silver Publishing just released "The Pink Triangle," a tale of friendship, lust, and betrayal. You can view her story here: 

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