I’ve always wanted to be a writer. What do you suggest?

It’s simple. A remarkably wise woman once told me this great truth about writing: “Writers write.” Yes, it sounds pretty simplistic, but it’s all you need to remember – at least at the outset. The rules and such can come later. The most important thing is to write. Just write.

I can never remember where to put punctuation in relation to quotation marks. Can you help me?

Sure. As a rule, punctuation marks get placed within quotation marks. But, as with any rule, there are exceptions. Semicolons (;) and colons (:) always go outside punctuation marks.

What’s the deal with they’re, their and there?

Great question. They’re is a contraction of the words “they are” and is properly used thus: “They’re going to the movies later.”

Their is a plural possessive and is used correctly in this manner: “Steven and Betty went to their son’s graduation.”

There is an indicator of place; correct usage follows: “Put that box over there.”

If I really wanted to confuse the matter, I could have thrown in the following sentence just for fun: “They’re parking their car over there.” But I would never do that to you. Honest.

What about you’re and your?

You’re is a contraction of the two words “you are”; as such, it is properly used like this: “You’re not going to believe this!”

Your is a second-person (singular or plural) possessive; it is used thus: “Go to your room!”

But I always have trouble with those two words. Is there an easy way to remember that rule?

If you can reword your sentence to read correctly using the words “you are,” then “you’re” is the correct choice; if not (e.g., “Go to you are room.”), then “your” is the one to use.

How long have you been at this writing stuff?

Forever. Practically since I could grasp a stubby orange crayon in my chubby toddler hands. But my writing makes a lot more sense now than it did then. I’ve been a professional writer since 1987 and had casually plied my craft for ten years before that, while in high school (and then in college).

How much do you charge for your services?

Rates largely depend on the scope of the work you need done. We provide content-writing, editorial and proofreading services at reasonable hourly rates; feel free to contact us for details.

Why should I choose The Persnickety Proofreader to handle my writing/editing/proofreading project?

At The Persnickety Proofreader, we take great pride in the work we do – and do everything we can to ensure each client’s satisfaction. If you’d like a sample edit or proofing of your project, contact us to make arrangements.

What’s that funky “backwards-P” thingie called?

That symbol is called a pilcrow. Commonly referred to as a “paragraph mark,” the pilcrow indicates a paragraph break.

So, who’s the dog?

Ah, the dog… she of the icon photo. That’s Xena the Wonder Pooch. She’s my headstrong but lovable 13-year-old Siberian Husky. For years, I’d referred to her as “a teenager in a dog pelt”; and now that she’s officially a “teenager,” I can legally call her that without fear of reprisal (that doggie union is a strong one, let me tell you!).


2 Responses to FAQ

  1. Maria Van Saun says:

    Good Morning!

    A co-worker and I have a question about where to place comma’s in the below sentence…can you provide guidance?

    ‘Word, word, word and word’ or ‘Word, word, word, and word’

    2 or 3 commas?

    Also, the phrase ‘as well as’…before and after commas? always?

    Looking forward to your response!

    Thank you!

    • persnicketyproofreader says:

      Great questions!

      The answer to your first question is largely stylistic (and contrary to my wording choice, has nothing whatever to do with that ’70s R&B band); it lies in whether you welcome or despise the “oxford comma.” Personally, I despise it. An “oxford comma” is the comma that immediately precedes the word “and” in a list. For example: “I went to the store and bought peaches, apricots, and pears.” That could just as easily have been written, “I went to the store and bought peaches, apricots and pears.” (notice the lack of a comma before the “and”) It’s really up to you; but whatever you do, be consistent.

      As for your “as well as” question: Let me give you an example. “Fred and I went to the bookseller and the butcher shop, as well as the bakery.” If you had more errands to run, you would say, “Fred and I went to the bookseller, the cobbler, the butcher shop and the bakery, as well as the haberdashery.” You’ll notice I’ve used no oxford comma before the “and”; and a comma only before the “as well as.”

      Hope that helps.

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