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Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Big Editing Headaches

The big editing headaches are rarely the ones we run across all the time. We've been warned about to-too-two since kindergarten and if we make a 2-mistake, it's not because we don't know the rule. It's because we need an editor to see our own errors.

The real headaches are words like adverse/averse. That's because we're rarely warned about them, because we may hear them wrong in our minds or our minds hear what they think they hear. It's also because we are rarely put on the alert about them.

So, adverse/averse: We are not "adverse" to an idea, we are "averse" to it. We are opposed to it.

Even though the two words come from the same root and are similar in meaning, "Adverse" means that something is harmful or has a negative connotation. So we may be "averse" to doing something because it presents "adverse" conditions. "Adverse" describes the condition of something, "averse" is more about how we feel about it.

Trust me, I've seen the very best of editors miss this one. Now you won't!

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, where writers will find lists and other helps on the Resources for Writers page. She blogs on all things publishing (not just editing!) at her Sharing with Writers blog.


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Beth Blair said...

Good point. There so many tricky words out there - thanks for the explanation on adverse/averse.


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