RedPen Editing
Can of worms!

Home > RedPen Editing Can of worms!

Do you know your left from your right?3d Little man balances Left and Right

Being precise is an essential skill for a writer: using the right word in the right place makes all the difference.

One set of words which are often used inappropriately are these five auxiliary verbs, each of which add an extra dimension to a verb:

  • Can implies the ability to do something.
  • May implies permission to do something.
  • Could implies the ability plus permission.
  • Might implies ability and permission – plus some decision making on the part of the do-er.
  • Should implies the action is advisable.

Another trap is to follow one of these auxiliary verbs with ‘of’ instead of ‘have’. In speech, have is often contracted to ‘ve which sounds just like of.

  • You should’ve seen Jane dance.
  • Harry might’ve know better.

Of course, if you are writing dialogue, your character can make the ‘of’ mistake – and it will show the reader that the character is not too hot on grammar. Outside of dialogue, this is one mistake that shouldn’t happen …

Acknowledgment: © 3dalia | – 3d Little Man Balances Left And Right Photo