Tag: Tips

Know the Lingo

I’ve had a bit of time for pleasure reading recently and, being as I’m a huge football fan and it’s that time of year, I’ve read a few romances featuring football players. Great reading for the bus since I pick them up and put them down easily.

But my experiences with two of these books made me grind my teeth because of errors. In one case, I don’t think the author knows much about football, so the lingo was just wrong. In the other, I believe there was an uncaught autocorrect issue that snuck through and it was so obvious, I was more annoyed than usual.

If you are writing or editing anything where there is the expectation of a lingo or specialized language being used then you really NEED to get it correct. True, in some cases only a small subset of your readers would know the difference if the focus is on a small or esoteric area. However, as with these football-based stories, there are areas where many many audience members may have a good knowledge of what should be in use.

Errors drive the audience nuts and you immediately lose a lot of credibility.
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Grammar Tip: On to vs. Onto

How do you know whether to use “onto,” or “on to” in your sentence? I find authors often confuse these two in work I edit, so here’s the tip I use to decide which one would be correct in any particular sentence.

Onto is a preposition that indicates either movement to a position on or in a state of awareness about.

On to is a combination of an adverb (“on”) and a preposition (“to”). The adverb “on” indicates position and the preposition “to” indicates movement.

You can see why these two may be frequently confused. Yet the following two sentences have very different end results:

  • I drove up Broadway and on to the bank to deposit my check.
  • I drove up Broadway and onto the bank to deposit my check.

In the first sentence, I’m just running an everyday errand, taking Broadway to get to my bank. In the second sentence, I’ve still driven up Broadway but I parked my car on top of the bank to deposit a check.

I actually picked up a trick from The Chicago Manual of Style on how to determine which of these two options to choose. If you can insert the word “up” before “on” and the sentence still makes sense, “onto” would be the correct choice to make.