For example/e.g.

Don’t use the contraction for ‘for example’—‘e.g.’—when it appears parenthetically, by itself;

Correct: ‘Writing slang, for example, may offend some teachers.’
Incorrect: ‘Writing slang, e.g., may offend some teachers.’

But ‘e.g.’ can be used to commence a sentence, or after a semi-colon.

Example: ‘I’d like to get some new publishing software; e.g. Microsoft Office 2010 and Adobe Creative Suite CS5.’
‘E.g. when I lived in Australia, it didn’t take long for me to start speaking slang.’

Even if/because

Using ‘Even if...’ or ‘Because...’ to start a new sentence when it’s actually only a clause should be discouraged. It may be used occasionally for dramatic effect, but should not be overdone.

‘The reason is because’

Write either ‘The reason is that…’ or ‘It is because... that’ or ‘The reason for it is…’.

It is tautologous (needlessly repetitive) to write ‘The reason is because…’

Longman, p. 595

It is redundant to write ‘the reason for this is because…’ instead of either ‘this is because…’ or ‘the reason for this is that…’

The Complete Plain Words, p. 258

Various studies of the construction ‘the reason is because’ leave no doubt about its frequency, especially in contexts where several words or a clause separate the two elements… but, for the present at any rate, its absence from the works of our most talented writers and scholars is more significant than its presence in more informal printed work.

Fowler, p. 655

Phrases containing ‘of’ and/or the possessive ‘s’

When ‘of’expresses the idea of possession by people, and a noun is involved, there is a choice between, for instance, a friend of the king and a friend of the king’s though I prefer a friend of the king.

The second form would not be used for inanimate things: the crew of an aircraft carrier (not aircraft carrier’s).

Sometimes there is a difference of meaning. A picture of Amanda / A picture of Amanda’s.

Longman, p. 492, ‘of’ (3)

When a personal pronoun is used, his/hers is always used, rather than him/her.

E.g.   ‘Did you read that book of his?’

The use of upper/lower case for proper (but not official scientific) animal/plant names

All lower case (for example: blue whale, red kangaroo, red cedar), except where a particular word, in a different context, would dictate that it be spelt with upper case, such as ‘English gun dog’. With specific breeds of animals such as a dog, the name is capitalised when used in full, like this: Labrador Retriever. However, when referring to the breed’s colour, the colour is in lower case, e.g. yellow Labrador Retriever. Also, if just referring to the overall designation of the breed, it’s in lower case, e.g. ‘We have a spaniel.’ However, if using the specific breed name, it’s capitalised, e.g. ‘We have an English Cocker Spaniel.’

The subjunctive mood

With a future hypothetical construction, there are differing streams of thought as to whether one should say:

‘If I were to go to the writing conference tomorrow…’
‘If I went to the writing conference tomorrow…’
‘If I should go to the writing conference tomorrow…’

Any of the above are acceptable, but try to be consistent.

Use of ‘off’ vs ‘off of’

The combination ‘off of’ does not belong in good writing, even where ‘off’ itself would be correct, as in ‘step off (not off of) the platform.’ It is used in educated American speech, but is much less acceptable in Britain.

‘Off of’ is still strongly present in the language of the less well educated but is indisputably non-standard in Britain. In American English, ‘off of’ is widespread in speech, including that of the educated, but is rare in edited writing.’ (Random House, Webster’s College Dict. 1991).

In view of the above, I will edit ‘off of’ to become ‘off’.

The possessive used with verbal nouns

The question of whether we should use the possessive case in connection with verbal nouns is not something that can be answered with a simple yes or no. It depends very much on the composition of the sentence, and specifically on whether the verbal noun in question can stand alone (i.e. without the possessive noun/pronoun) to represent the subject/object of the sentence/clause. For example:

  • ‘Is there any chance of you/Stephen doing that job today?’
  • ‘Can we talk without him/Stephen hearing?’

In both of the above cases, the personal pronoun (you/him) is obviously the intended object of the sentence, and as such does not need to take the possessive form. The apparent verbal nouns (doing/hearing) in fact are true present participles in such a construction.

  • ‘Could his/Simon’s working with power tools have affected his ears?’

In the above case, the verbal noun itself (working) is the obvious intended subject of the sentence. 
The personal pronoun therefore requires the possessive form.

When the noun is non-personal, is part of a phrase, or is in the plural, the possessive is normally not used. For example:

  • ‘We had a conversation about the website being proofread.’
  • ‘Many question the wisdom of the publisher adopting the new style guide.’

With indefinite pronouns, usage is divided subject to personal preference, but the non-possessive form is now dominant. For example:

  • ‘I have nothing against anyone (or anyone’s) being involved.’
  • ‘There is good reason for everyone (or everyone’s) wanting to join the club.’

In good writing, the possessive is always used when the personal pronoun stands in the initial position. For example:

  • His/Jack’s being capable made the editing work very quick.’
  • My being here must embarrass you.’
  • Their/the children’s talking made it difficult to hear.’

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