Some Punctuation Marks Walked into a Bar and …

• An Oxford comma walks into a bar, where it spends the evening watching the television, getting drunk, and smoking cigars.

• A dangling participle walks into a bar. Enjoying a cocktail and chatting with the bartender, the evening passes pleasantly.

• A bar was walked into by the passive voice.

• An oxymoron walked into a bar, and the silence was deafening.

• Two quotation marks walk into a “bar.”

• A malapropism walks into a bar, looking for all intensive purposes like a wolf in cheap clothing, muttering epitaphs and casting dispersions on his magnificent other, who takes him for granite.

• Hyperbole totally rips into this insane bar and absolutely destroys everything.

• A question mark walks into a bar?

• A non sequitur walks into a bar. In a strong wind, even turkeys can fly.

• Papyrus and Comic Sans walk into a bar. The bartender says, “Get out — we don’t serve your type.”

• A mixed metaphor walks into a bar, seeing the handwriting on the wall but hoping to nip it in the bud.

• A comma splice walks into a bar, it has a drink and then leaves.

• Three intransitive verbs walk into a bar. They sit. They converse. They depart.

• A synonym strolls into a tavern.

• At the end of the day, a cliché walks into a bar — fresh as a daisy, cute as a button, and sharp as a tack.

• A run-on sentence walks into a bar it starts flirting. With a cute little sentence fragment.

• Falling slowly, softly falling, the chiasmus collapses to the bar floor.

• A figure of speech literally walks into a bar and ends up getting figuratively hammered.

• An allusion walks into a bar, despite the fact that alcohol is its Achilles heel.

• The subjunctive would have walked into a bar, had it only known.

• A misplaced modifier walks into a bar owned by a man with a glass eye named Ralph.

• The past, present, and future walked into a bar. It was tense.

• A dyslexic walks into a bra.

• A verb walks into a bar, sees a beautiful noun, and suggests they conjugate. The noun declines.

• A simile walks into a bar, as parched as a desert.

• A gerund and an infinitive walk into a bar, drinking to forget.

• A hyphenated word and a non-hyphenated word walk into a bar and the bartender nearly chokes on the irony

A Walk in the Woods to the Lake

Yesterday I went for a walk with my friend (she lives alone and is as paranoid as I am about avoiding the virus, so we reckoned it was okay to walk a couple of feet apart in the wide open spaces). We went the back way to the lake adjoining our local manor house (which you can see in the distance on the photo with the sheep). It was a very hot day and we encountered only a handful of people, all of whom kept their distance. My friend is more athletic than me (she runs an hour or so every day or walks for more than that), and after walking in the heat for about 4 hours, I was about ready to be medevac’d out of there! But it was lovely, such beautiful countryside, and I’m so happy to be able to do this. Afterwards, a takeaway pizza and a bottle of wine, looking out over the sea.



A Walk on 25th March 2020

When I turn left out of my front door, I go to the beach, the sea, the cliff path. When I turn right, I go to the end of the road and find myself in greenery. Here’s what I saw on my walk today.


Here is a WWII pill box, which was a guard post from which weapons could be fired. We have these all along the coast, and they were put there in case of German invasion. Now it’s all overgrown, of course.


Another nice day – here is a huge crow. There are loads of them around Cromer, indeed the local flag has 3 crows on it.





Hello, Horse! He lives on the land belonging to Cromer Hall, as you can see, which is the seat of the local landed gentry.


Here is Cromer Hall. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stayed here, and heard the local legend of the huge, ghostly black dog that is said to roam the local coastline. It was the inspiration for his Hound of the Baskervilles. Oscar Wilde also stayed in Cromer and it was where he wrote ‘A Woman of No Importance’.



A Walk on 23rd March 2020

Today I went for what my sister and I call ‘the Virginia Woolf walk’, i.e. to the lighthouse! It was a lovely day, and people are keeping away from others, as you can see. I was very glad to get outside. To slightly misquote the hymn, ‘where every prospect pleases, and only man is vile’.

And now back to ‘a room of one’s own’!


How to find a good proofreader (and avoid the bad ones!)

I am often followed on Twitter by editors, proofreaders, and companies that offer these services. Sometimes I follow them back, sometimes I don’t, depending on the individual profile.

Today I was followed by a company whose bio claims they offer the ‘best online editing and proofreading services’. Their tweets seemed to be answering many interesting questions, and they quoted what looked like erudite articles. I clicked on their website, which also looked smart and well-produced. Next, I went to their ‘Services’ tab and read a small section selected at random―and guess what? I found at least 7 errors. Yes, that’s right, 7. I didn’t read any further.

Printer's error

Would you like to see what I found?

My remarks are in bold in brackets:

‘Proofreading aims to correct all errors in grammar, punctuation, syntax, and spelling in a manuscript. If you wish to see whether the final version of your document contains any minor errors, you need a proofreading service, no (they mean ‘not’) an editing service.

Editing necessitate (an ‘s’ is needed here) more of an extra effort from an editor than does a proofreading service.

Editing will mostly make some fundamental changes to improve the standard of the academic writing of the document. As a consequence of this fact, editors will sometimes re-write (‘rewrite’ needs no hyphen) some parts of your document. This is especially important, since an editing service aims to guarantee that the purposes of the document are met.

glam proofreader

Editing services will also check whether the document has any grammatical, spelling, or punctuation mistakes to make sure the document is error-free. Thus, an editor will correct all errors in in (repetition of the word ‘in’) grammar, typography, punctuation, syntax, and spelling in a manuscript. 

In this sense, and (they mean ‘an’) editing service covers the proofreading service as well. However, strictly speaking, proofreading of your document is the last stage before it is delivered to you. Therefore, even if the editor has corrected many of the errors that a proofreader would correct, the document must still pass through this last stage—proofreading. Whether your document is a dissertation or a masters (should be ‘master’s’) thesis or a term document or business document, to make it shine, we mostly advice (should be ‘advise’) our clients to opt for the editing service instead of the mere proofreading.’

Leaving aside the occasional superfluous or missing definite and indefinite articles, and tautology, this is hardly a good advertisement for their services!

angry reader

So – how do you find a proofreader, when there are so many to choose from on social media, and you really want to feel comfortable about paying money to someone you don’t know?

  • Ask for recommendations from writers with whom you’ve interacted, and who seem to be people of sound judgement
  • Contact the proofreaders and ask if they will correct a short sample free of charge, so that you can see how they work, and if you like it. Any proofreader worth their salt will do this
  • Ask for references – these should be from people whom you can actually contact, not just random quotes (such as ‘Very pleased’ – A. Smith, Birmingham)!
  • If you’re considering whether or not to employ a particular proofreader, you could always look at the ‘Look Inside’ pages of a book they’ve worked on, on Amazon. It’ll give you an idea of what they do

One last point – I recently worked with a client who had self-published her book, after running it through Grammarly. She then received quite a few reviews saying that there were many punctuation and grammar errors. So she ran it through Grammarly again, checking for (her words) ‘run-on sentences, punctuation, spelling errors’. Result – more negative reviews. She decided to give the book to me for proofreading. I made over 1,000 corrections. I would not recommend that anyone rely on Grammarly!

Happy writing!

happy author 4