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December 3, 2005

More Wisdom from Rene Cappon (Chapter 12)

In Chapter 12, “Usage: Handling Those Hectoring Hangups,” Rene Cappon continues to impart his news-writing wisdom. “To be or not to be?” When it comes to splitting “to be” verbs, cautions the Associated Press editor, only do so when any other arrangement would sound awkward. Likewise with gender, unless it absolutely sounds better, stay gender neutral without using “he or she.” Instead, rely on the pronouns “there” and “they” or nouns like “reporter, “firefighter,” and “worker.” And avoid “spokesperson” which, the editor asserts, is too contrived. Furthermore, the conjunctions “and/or” belong in legal documents, not news stories.

He also dispels grammar myths such as a preposition can not end a sentence or “and” and “but” can not start one. He then shows that dashes are dashing except when misused. Correctly used, they signal a change in thought.

Finally, he untangles the “to lay” and “to lie” confusion. While the transitive verb “to lay” takes an object, its intransitive counterpart “to lie” does not.

Posted by NancyGregg at December 3, 2005 4:51 PM