Archive for the 'Commonly Misused Words' Category

May 02 2010

A brief note on anyone vs. any one

I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.

The difference between “anyone” and “any one” is simple but frequently missed. “Anyone” is a synonym to “anybody,” so use “anyone” in a situation where “anybody” would also work. If anybody does not fit, use “any one.”

  • Any one of Jim’s girlfriends would murder him if she found out.
  • Anyone could have told Jim that having four girlfriends was probably an unwise move in terms of not getting murdered.

Also, please keep in mind that both are singular. “Jim’s girlfriends would murder him if they found out” vs. “Any one of Jim’s girlfriends would murder him if she found out.”

No responses yet

Mar 18 2009

Beat a Professional Proofreader!

Hello.  I have an exciting new game for the grammatically inclined.  Compete with B. Mac in a proofreading contest.  Those that can score 80% as many points as BM will be eligible for a volunteer moderator position.  Those that score more points than B. Mac will also receive a free Superhero Nation t-shirt.  (I’m judging the contest, but I’ll be fair).  If you’d like to compete, please download the following document and email your completed version to superheronation-at-gmail-dot-com.  The contest ends on March 27!

60 responses so far

Oct 28 2008

Don’t Overuse Exotic Substitutes for “Said”

Beginning authors tend to overuse “said bookisms,” which are words used to replace the word “said.”  For example, in the sentence “I’m ready!” he declared, declared is a said-bookism.


Using more than a few said-bookisms per page will probably make the dialogue feel melodramatic and stilted (“I’m hungry,” he uttered). Some common said-bookisms are potentially distracting because they aren’t actually a way to speak.  For example, “I knew you’d come back,” she smiled lazily conflates two actions: the speaking and the smiling.   No, she didn’t smile those words.  It would be clearer and probably more publisher-friendly to change the phrase to “she said with a smile” or give the two actions their own sentences.


Additionally, animal-sounds are unusually annoying.  It doesn’t take much of him clucking and her purring to sound absolutely ridiculous.

Continue Reading »

29 responses so far

Aug 13 2008

Insure Vs. Ensure (OR: Fox News has betrayed me!)

You should only use the word “insure” if you’re talking about buying or selling insurance policies. The word “ensure” should be used when you want to guarantee an outcome. For example, “please ensure that you don’t make that mistake.” Unfortunately, Fox News hasn’t gotten the memo…

Fox News: “We expect Russia to insure that all lines of communication and transport, including seaports, airports, roads and airspace, remain open for the delivery of humanitarian assistance and for civilian transit,” Bush said.

No, Fox, no! You will rot in the deepest, hottest bowels of grammatical hell. Devils will stab you with semi-colons until you beg for death’s sweet embrace.

9 responses so far