"To Riffle" or "To Rifle"?

Writing Tip 373: “To Riffle” or “To Rifle”?

This isn’t a gun debate. It’s a verb debate. And neither of them has anything to do with firearms. There is a difference between “riffling” and “rifling” through the pages of your favorite writing reference book. Both are possible. But I’m guessing there’s only one that you mean. And seriously, if you’re confused, please get […]

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Writing Tip 372: “Chomping at the Bit” or “Champing at the Bit”?

Writing Tip 372: “Chomping at the Bit” or “Champing at the Bit”?

You can see it, can’t you? There’s the racehorse in the starting gate. He’s hoofing the ground. He’s whinnying. He’s chomping on his bit impatiently waiting for the starting gun to fire… But the problem is, “chomping at the bit” isn’t the correct expression. The second problem is that “champing” and “chomping” are so incredibly […]

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To Whet or Wet Your Appetite

Writing Tip 371: To “Wet” or “Whet” Your Appetite?

When people talk about enticing you, they aren’t talking about making you drool. The question about how do you spell “whetting” your appetite comes up often, and I think it often comes back to confusion about that saliva. You see something delicious and you salivate. Sure, I get it, but that has nothing to do […]

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beyond the pale - beyond the pail

Writing Tip 370: “Beyond the Pale” vs. “Beyond the Pail”

If we’re mixing idioms, there might be something about kicking a bucket then going beyond the pail, but whatever the origin story your mind is making up for that one, don’t give it a second more of contemplation. “Beyond the Pail” isn’t an expression. It could be where you walk past if you’re retrieving water […]

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Writing Tip 369: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen (yes, the comma goes there)

Writing Tip 369: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen (yes, the comma goes there)

We’re not talking about any “merry gentlemen” here, folks. Did you ever notice the correct comma placement within  this opening line of the classic Christmas carol? From Rudolph to the Grinch to Deck the Halls, yes, my holiday song breakdown continues… Plus, you now have some nostalgic new slang to drop with your friends. What’s […]

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Writing Tip 368: Should you “Toll” or “Troll” the Yuletide Carol? (video)

Writing Tip 368: Should you “Toll” or “Troll” the Yuletide Carol? (video)

Think fast: how do you sing this classic holiday song? Join 750+ subscribers and sign-up for my writing and editing email newsletter for more tips like this.

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Writing Tip 367: “Season’s Greetings” or “Seasons Greetings”

Writing Tip 367: “Season’s Greetings” or “Seasons Greetings”

Yes, this is the moment every year where I have to share my reminder about how to make your last name plural on your Christmas cards (hint: no apostrophe—please, no apostrophe!), but that’s not the end of our holiday punctuation conversation. Forget the question of whether to say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.” Is it […]

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