Let’s Play Copy Editor

sherlockI know! I’m a weirdo who thinks grammar is not only important, it’s fun.

Underneath my slightly (?) crazed compulsion for correctness in writing is the desire for clear content. It’s the non-repro blue ink that runs through my copy editor’s veins.

Hey, I’m not perfect; however, I do understand the value of a second set of qualified eyes.

Here are some examples of errors that probably would have been caught by your friendly, neighborhood copy editor. Can you spot them?

  1. Scientists and researchers around the world are working on tinyrobots that use organic cells in their construction. The latest such robot device to use organic sells is the soft robotic stingray… — “Stingray Robot Is Part Rat Heart and Part Breast Implant Sprinkled with Gold” by Shane McClaun, SlashGear, July 11, 2016
  2. Every year on July 11 7-Eleven gifts their customers a free frosty beverage and 2016 is no exception! –“7-Eleven Free Slurpee Day 2016: All of the 7-11 Freebies Available the Week of July 11” by Rebecka Schumann, International Business Times, July 11, 2016
  3. Signing Michael Grabner, Nathan Gerbe and Adam Clendening were smart cost-effective signings, however after another disappointing playoff exit, it leaves many New York Rangers fans wondering what is the next step? — “New York Rangers: Home Improvement” by Jonathan Marrero, Blue Line Station, July 10, 2016
  4. Their play along the boards is a contributing factor to all their turnovers which segways perfectly into the next bullet point, their turnovers in the offensive zone. –“Calderone: The 54 Year Curse Must Not Return” by Jimmy Calderone, Jr., NY Sports Day, July 9, 2016
  5. Two men who reportedly left a poorly extinguished fire at campsite have been arrested in connection with a Colorado wildfire that has burned more than 500 acres in Boulder County and forced residents to evacuate. –“2 Arrested in Connection With Colorado Wildfire; Residents Evacuating” by Eric Chaney and Andrew MacFarlane, The Weather Channel, July 11, 2016


Answers: 1. “Sells” in the second line is incorrect; 2. At least one comma is needed after the first independent clause (beverage, and), usually the singular pronoun its is used for a company, and there’s a case for using a comma to separate the numbers of the date and the company name (July 11, 7-Eleven) for clarity; 3. A comma is needed after smart since the adjective is modifying signings, there needs to be a semi-colon (signings; however,) to prevent a comma splice, and the sentence is an indirect question and shouldn’t end with a question mark (although it should be rewritten for better flow); 4. Segways are two-wheeled, electric vehicles while segues are smooth transitions from one idea to another; 5. This is a tricky one. The phrase, “who reportedly left a poorly extinguished fire at a campsite,” to me is non-restrictive since the sentence still makes sense without it. Since it is non-restrictive, it should have a comma before it and at its end.