Today's lesson: American English v. British English
While confusion between American and British English isn’t terribly prevalent, I do see a mistake here and there, especially among Indie books. The similarities between the two sets of rules make them easy to confuse, so I thought it might be helpful to share a few of the most common types of mistakes.
Because English borrows from so many different languages, resulting in different words following different spelling rules, it can be easy to make a mistake when writing certain words.
Here is a list of what I’ve found to be the most common spelling mistakes:
Chicago v. Logical Punctuation
Chicago style punctuation, which Americans use, and “logical” style, used by those writing in British English, have only a couple of notable differences. Still, not knowing the rules can contribute to serious mistakes.
In both Chicago and logical styles, a fully quoted sentence will end with the punctuation mark on the inside of the closing comma. Here’s where the two differ: In Chicago style, partial quotes will include the punctuation if it is a comma or a period, but not if it is a question mark, colon, or semicolon; logical style requires that all punctuation marks at the end of partial quotes fall outside the closing quote. For example:
Both styles: “I had no idea Jane was so picky,” she said.
What did she mean when she said the guy was not her “type”?
Chicago style: Just think of me as “another one of the guys.”
Logical style: Just think of me as “another one of the guys”.
The Oxford Comma
One would think the use of a comma named after an English university would be the accepted convention in England, but it is not. It is, however, commonly used in American writing. For more about the Oxford comma, see this article.
While you might have readers who also do not know the rules, there is always a chance that editors, agents, or reviewers reading your work do. If you take the time to know and understand these rules, your writing will be sharper and you will be able to present it to the world with confidence and skill.
Until next time, my pretties! (Insert evil cackle.)
Editing to add (because I realized not too soon after posting this that I'd only covered only a portion of what I should have)....
What other words might I have missed? Please be sure to share your additions!