Is ‘millenarian’ correctly spelled, and what is the difference between a possum and an opossum? Can there ever be an ‘alternate solution’, and how many commas should there be in the sentence ‘I wrapped it up wrote a label and popped it in the mail box’?
Should I set The Four Seasons in italics or in inverted commas (or are they called quotation marks, and should I use single or double?) What was St Petersburg known as in 1972? What was the Great Patriotic War, should ‘gipsy’ (or is it ‘gypsy’?) have an initial capital letter, and on what date do Americans celebrate Thanksgiving?
Does the USA ever have typhoons? Did Yugoslavia still exist in 1998, and if not what was it called? Should I address Park Ji-Sung as Mr Park, or as Mr Ji, or as Mr Sung? Who was Elizabeth Taylor’s first husband, and what was John Wayne’s real name? Do I write ‘a hotel’ or ‘an hotel’? Is the hyphen correct in the phrase ‘a curly-leafed lettuce’? Are Peking and Beijing the same place, and if so why the two names? Does Freddie Mac have anything to do with Fannie May?
The (Essential) Companion for Writers and Editors is a ready reference to information commonly required, errors commonly committed, conventions commonly accepted, and problems and language idiosyncrasies commonly encountered by writers and editors as well as by teachers and general users of English.
Owen Hendry was born in Glasgow in 1945. He majored at Wits University in English and Latin, and spent 30 years in English-language education. He has written...