Denise M Taylor

Writing Consultant I Editor I Proofreader I Teacher

Are you gagging for another English­­­­ grammar quiz? If so, sharpen your red pencil and put on your proofreading thinking-cap! There is more than one error relating to grammar and punctuation in each of the following ten sentences. Can you spot them?  Each grammar ‘issue’ has been covered in the last few articles written for ‘The Art of Writing & […]

Throughout the last few months I’ve been keeping a record of some commonly confused, or simply confusing, words that I’ve come across in my job as an editor and proofreader. Do you ‘orient’ or ‘orientate’ yourself? Do you ‘inquire’ or ‘enquire’? Is an event ‘eminent’ or ‘imminent’? Some of these words are spelt so similarly, or sound so similar, that […]

Would you write: ‘the earth is round’ or ‘the Earth is round’? The rules governing capitalisation of words in sentences may seem straightforward, but, as writers, editors and proofreaders know, distinguishing between ‘proper’ and ‘common’ usage is often difficult, and style guides vary in their rules. As the featured image illustrates, medieval manuscript writers enlarged and decorated the first letter […]

Socrates (469-399 B.C.), the classical Greek Athenian philosopher, believed there are two ruling and directing principles in all of us: one being an innate desire of pleasure; the other, an acquired judgement, which aspires after excellence. In his book ‘Simply English: An A to Z of Avoidable Errors’ (2014), Simon Heffer certainly aspires after excellence in grammar, and finds it […]

Does anyone care that ‘lay’ and ‘lie’ are frequently used incorrectly in sentences? Should we care? Apparently, the Oxford English Dictionary—Samuel Johnson’s dictionary—decided on these forms, and I’m thinking that maybe it’s time to lay them to rest, and not worry about their misuse anymore. I don’t hear my clients applauding me when I put a red line through ‘lay’ in […]

It takes courage for writers to ‘go out on a limb’ in order to develop, and commit to, an individual writing style that satisfies readers. On 9 March 1895, H. G. Wells, English writer and commentator, wrote a review in the ‘Saturday Review’ of Grant Allen’s controversial novel, ‘The Woman Who Did’: “The whole book … is strenuous without strength, […]

These days, the use of the pronoun ‘whom’ in our speech and writing is becoming less common —quite frankly, it’s on its last legs. Grammar purists will be shaking their heads and wringing their ink-stained hands as they ponder the demise of ‘whom’ and the rise in popularity of the less pretentious pronoun, ‘who’. However, if you’re writing or speaking […]

January 1st 2014: time to jab a pin into my list of destinations yet to be explored. Apart from the consideration of important aspects such as available cash and security, travel to distant countries is a lot easier than a century or so ago. Today’s travel writers not only narrate their journeys through the written word but also through images […]

Categories: Musings on Art

Are you sometimes unsure whether you should use ‘that’ or ‘which’ in a sentence? If so, join the throng; or maybe you’ve never really thought about it. Fair enough. In many cases, both words are equally correct. However, you can keep this in mind: ‘that’ introduces essential (restrictive or defining relative) clauses, and ‘which’ introduces non-essential (non-restrictive or non-defining relative) […]

What are those rabbits doing in the border of that medieval prayer book? Is that a snail jousting with a dog? Why is a naked man riding a many-legged ‘dragon’ in the lower margin? No, your eyes are not deceiving you. This profusion of humans, animals, fantastical plants and grotesques painted in the margins of thirteenth and early fourteenth-century Europe […]