WRITING: ONE WORD, OR TWO? OR … September 19, 2017

WRITING:  ONE WORD, OR TWO? OR …                   September 19, 2017

Clarity is everything in writing and in speaking. In person you have a chance to clear things up if what you said or asked didn’t quite make sense.  But, in writing you don’t have that luxury; you have to be clear up front.  Correct and sufficient punctuation can do much to help across the board, including to indicate whether two words should be together as one or should stay separated.

Examples:  Decision maker            life long vs. lifelong    eyedrops vs. eye drops

Tom is the decision maker.  Becoming an author has been her lifelong goal.  I need to use more eyedrops.  As she turns around, an eye drops into the bucket.

A list of words that people often aren’t sure about–one word, or two—can be found at https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/901458.One_Word_Two_Words_Hyphenated and http://iws.collin.edu/dparker/tw_class_3211/proposals/Word-List.pdf


What’s a third option?  Hyphenation.  Two words that are working together as a compound adjective to describe a noun need a hyphen between them, without spaces.

Unclear:  That face licking dog is cute.

Is a face licking a dog? What’s happening here?

Clear:  That face-licking dog is cute.

Which dog is cute?  The dog that is licking a face is cute.

Here’s another sentence that is confusing without punctuation inside it.  “We are rewarding our prizes and special access based on attendee ordering sequence.”

What’s going on?  Are attendees ordering a sequence?  If so, a sequence of what?

Clear correction:  We are rewarding our prizes and special access based on attendee-ordering sequence.

The other way around confusion is to rethink and rewrite the sentence:

We are rewarding our prizes and special access to attendees who order first.

We are rewarding our prizes and special access based on the sequence in which attendees order.

We are rewarding our prizes and special access on a first-come, first-served basis.

We are rewarding our prizes and special access: Order first to get them first.


See how clear sentences can be with sufficient punctuation?  (Sigh) I love clarity!

Many lessons and bits of advice in this writing/grammar series have been taken from Writestyle’s online campus.







Vickie L. Weaver

Vickie L. Weaver

Owner at Writestyle
Writing has been an important talent and part of my life since I was a child.Professionally, after decades of employment for others, I founded Writestyle in 1996 to provide writing, editing, proofreading, training, and more to clients worldwide (www.writestyle.com).Clients often call my work “magic.”I have written and/or edited for “Coexistence Magazine” (national), for “Ohio Magazine,” and for various newspapers.In addition, I have edited or contributed to the writing of numerous books.Personally, I have written in various genres.I have always composed poetry; as such, I have won awards and publication for some of my poems, and I am compiling a book of my poetry.One of my children’s books is set for publication.With my second husband, family and friends in Ohio, I enjoy music and dance, aid charitable causes, and strive for beauty and harmony in life.
Vickie L. Weaver

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