Which or that – does it matter?

I have a confession to make, I’m about to get found out.

The painting that is hanging in my dining room, was not, in fact, painted by me. The one which is hanging crookedly in the lounge is the one I painted.

It’s out!  I’m owning up to something which I have kept secret all these years.

Who wants to know all about ME?

WAIT!  Before you switch to another site let me answer that : NOBODY! 

So what’s the point of this page? I’d love to know what might make you turn to Google and type the word “proofreader”.  What’s happened to make you suddenly stop and think “I need help!”

older lady

It’s all very well me telling you what led me to this career choice, and the things that make me want to get a red marker out every day and correct typos, but more to the point, how can I help YOU? What are the things that hold you back in your writing on a regular basis?  Would you like to see a regular newsletter with easy to remember tips about that wretched apostrophe, or why brackets are not called brackets at all?  Or why we sometimes say “brought” and sometimes say “bought” and why it’s important to know the difference?

Just respond in the comment box at the foot of the page and perhaps we can have a conversation!



Non-native Engrish smelling mistakes

Copy-editing for the non-native English speaker.

If English is not your mother tongue, you may be at a severe disadvantage when it comes to writing a proposal or a report, a CV or a blog, or publishing content for a website.

You have naturally had less experience with written English and so can benefit from proofreading and copy-editing services, especially from someone with translation experience.jigsaw

Since the internet has taken over the world, it is liberally peppered with huge examples of incorrect English. It is difficult enough for people with English as their first language to get everything right, so think how much more a non-native English speaker may need a proofreader to go over their translation with them!


Some examples of likely difficulties encountered by a non-native English writer:  

  • Some languages put the verb at the end of the sentence

While in English we would say: “I want to travel to London with my wife tomorrow”, a German speaker might translate it directly as:  “Tomorrow to London with my wife want I to travel”.

  • Mistakes with idiomatic expressions

“I’ll go with you as you’ve twisted my arm” doesn’t mean that you have been violently forced into doing something – it is more likely to mean gentle persuasion. But you wouldn’t attempt to re-organise it into something like “… you have twisted my wrist”.

“Starting from square one” has an unuttered but implied reference to the game of Snakes and Ladders. It would be nonsensical to try to re-shape the phrase with something such as “Moving on to square 2…” it doesn’t have the impact, and it’s just not something that is commonly said in English.

  • Language is evolving all the time, and what you learned a few years ago may have changed today

An example is in the use of the hyphen.

  • You may be unsure when it’s appropriate to “elide” words or letters

While it might be preferable in a report to say “it is”, in contrast on the web, which tries to speak the same language as its readers, you may find that “it’s” is perfectly acceptable.

But often, these are things that only a native English speaker, (and perhaps just as importantly, one with an “ear” for style and flow), will be able to determine.

A sensitive proofreader will be able to support your writing without undermining your creative and imaginative talents.  They recognise that you are writing about your passion, about what you know best, so just let the words flow onto your draft page. The gist is there, I will know what you are trying to say, and without tampering too much with the content and the important information you want to share, I can perfect your message so that it reaches your reader clearly in natural-sounding English – not a hint of a translation remaining.

I have the advantage of being able to speak a number of foreign languages, so will recognise when common language-hiccups have led you into a certain turn of phrase, and know how to undo it for you, and polish it to perfection!


Going it alone with technology when you are freelance

For two years I made careful plans to take the leap into becoming a freelance editor

But four months after that elated leap into the void, I realise I wasn’t prepared for something quite considerable.

freelanceAlthough they said “beware of the isolation factor”, I took that to mean missing out on talking and socialising with people in the office. Not me, I thought, I have plenty of friends and family nearby, I won’t get lonely.

The penny has now dropped.

You know that moment when

punctuation, article

Punctuation: one great secret

When you’ve drafted an article, leave it for a couple of hours, or overnight before you continue or decide to publish it.

When you open up that draft article again, you will have “slept on it”;  the images in your mind will have developed, like photographs, the words you wrote about them will have dried on the paper, the file you created will have been safely saved.

Copy-editing & proofreading – is it worth it?

Not every writer chooses to hire a professional proofreader for copy-editing.  But I’m not just talking to novelists or journalists:  I’m talking to website owners as well! 

The content of your website has every reason to be as accurate as a published book or hard copy magazine – it’s the window to your world and it really matters.  Reasons cited for not bothering to have work proofread are valid and varied:

“I can’t afford an editor.”

“True, I make a few mistakes, but not enough to need one.”

“That’s just my style, it’s the way I write.”

“I’m going for a casual, more talky style.”

“Nobody will notice – most people aren’t as picky as you.”


Probably the most common reason for hoping to do without an editor to copy-edit is

When grammar & smelling mistakes help not hinder

Why is there a deliberate typo in my heading?

Because most people read web pages in an F pattern – the first line needs something to GRAB your attention!

That’s why I think it works for me anyway – as a member of the punctuation and grammar police, typos jump out at me and ruin my reading pleasure!


But CLEVER typos can actually work for you!

The first time I saw this

The only baby in the whole world

Yesterday my daughter gave birth to the only baby in the whole world.

(A very large detour from the usual today, since punctuation is really not top of my concerns right now!)

We have just said hello to a healthy little girl weighing just under 9 pounds, blonde and perfect. Mother is doing fine, if exhausted after 3 days of very little sleep.

new baby

So what do I mean, “the only baby in the whole world”?

A quick search tells me that there have been 116,549,444

speed read

5 pointers to proofreading your own article

If you have just a short article to submit, you may not need a proofreader: why not do it yourself?

Even if you’re not altogether confident with your spelling and punctuation skills, there are some tricks you can utilise that will help avoid the embarrassment of seeing a typo in print, free of charge. These for example:

Shamed by you English? Hire a proofreader!

Right from the start, let me state that I am no snob regarding my love of English, it’s just what I know best due to the chance location of my birthplace.

It’s a dreadfully complex language, made up of so many historical influences and invasions, therefore anyone who learns English as a foreign language has my admiration!

non-native English

But if English writers

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