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All about Words: capitals, prefixes and more

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Online writing trainingBy Mary Morel | July 2017

Online writing classes and courses

I often take online classes and courses out of interest and to keep up with what’s happening in the online space. I am currently doing a class with writers.com, the first writing school on the internet. I’m enjoying it.

In the best online classes, you receive feedback from the tutor and other participants. A course that does that really well is The Writers’ Studio. I did their course a few years ago on unlocking creativity and it was fun. (Their next course starts in August – you can still get the early bird price.)

Writing a non-fiction book
I am thinking of launching an online class in a few months on writing a non-fiction book or e-book. (My credentials in this area are three non-fiction books – two published by a mainstream publisher (Allen & Unwin) and one self-published.)

Email me if this course would interest you.

Editing class or course
A friend yesterday mentioned that she would be interested in an online class or course on editing. Would that interest you?


Read my latest blog about what happens when pronouns cause confusion.

The three common types of vague pronoun referencing are:

  • Ambiguous reference
  • Remote reference
  • Vague reference

Read more.

Learn more about grammar with my online course, Grammar Essentials. ($39)

Readers’ questions


Question: I understand that when referring to a region one would use upper case and write something like, ‘Metro works on the West Coast of the U.S.A.’

A variant could be, ‘Metro works on the West Coast and the East Coast of the U.S.A.’

But how about the following?

‘Metro works on the West and East Coasts of the U.S.A.’

Or would it be this?: ‘Metro works on the West and East coasts of the U.S.A.’

Response: I think you could use lower case when using the words generically.

‘Metro works on the west and east coasts of the U.S.A.’

PS in Australia, we use fewer initial capitals in abbreviations. You wrote ‘U.S.A’ where I would have written ‘US’ or ‘USA’. What would other readers write?

Learn more about punctuation with my online course, An A to Z of Punctuation. ($39)

Prefixes: ‘un’ and ‘ir’

This question was posed in the Facebook group (why not join?).

Question: Currently in an argument over the correct use of a word: unresistible (irresistible). Why is the correct word ‘ir’ not ‘un’?

Answer:  One Facebook member replied that ‘irresistible comes from a Medieval Latin word, irresistibilis, that has continued to be used and adapted over time’.

Michael Quinion explains the difference between ‘un’ and ‘ir’ well. In brief, he says: ‘In general, words take un- when they are of English (Germanic) origin and in- if they come from Latin. (The forms im-, il-, and ir- are variations on in-.) Apart from that, there’s really no good guide to which one you should choose. You’re just going to have to stick to learning them by rote.’

Interesting stuff about writing

Thousands agree to clean toilets for Wi-Fi because they didn’t read the terms
A public Wi-Fi company has demonstrated how complicated agreements are and how few people read them. Users agreed to some absurd terms. Read more.

A CEO writes thousands of birthday cards a year
How often do you send anyone a card? Read more.

The smartphone is eventually going to die, and then things are going to get really crazy
What place will writing have in this brave new world? The future looks scary. Read more.

Complicate and obfuscate, the key to writing corporate BS
Lucy Kellaway rummages through her collection of business bullshit and comes up with some great examples and tips on how write like the pros. Worth a read. Read more.

Why you need emoji
This article posits that emoji are the body language of the digital age. Read more.

Google’s CEO doesn’t use bullet points and neither should you
Do you like bullet points in PowerPoint presentations? Read more.

Quote of the month

‘Revision is one of the true pleasures of writing. I love the flowers of afterthought.’
US author Bernard Malamud