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Thursday, December 4, 2008

"A Way" vs. "Away": Enough to Make an Editor Dizzy

Recently a friend of mine (who was once my teacher!) corrected my grammar/typo/boo-boo on one of my blogs.

When someone in authority does that, one (meaning me!) may lose confidence in one's own expertise/talent/brilliance. (-: So I double-checked with my grammar guru, June Casagrande, author of Mortal Syntax and Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies ( You know. Because I was sure I was right but when a teacher tells you something...well...

And situations like this were the inspirations for June's books--that so much opinion that goes around is downright wrong, or at least not a full-out, never-to-be broken rule!

The "error" in question was "a way." I had used it as a noun with its article. My former teacher wanted me to push the words together into "away" which would have made it into an adverb. Just in case a similar thing happens to you, here's the straight dope:

a way: noun
away: adverb

Both are correct, but only if you slot them into the right place in your sentence. But you knew that. Maybe she did, too. She was only trying to help, after all.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits, consults and speaks on issues of publishing. Find her The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success at Learn more about her other authors' aids at She blogs on all things publishing (not just editing!) at

1 comment:

Penny Ehrenkranz said...

Carolyn - oops, but you may want to edit your Enought to Enough. Great blog, but I'm sure you already knew that. Thanks for all the information.

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