Hello all,

It’s a while since I’ve been here but I hope this is the right place for the party! As the representative of all those lonely lovely little old ladies next door, my post is directed at those of us who have survived sixty years or more.

I know the vast majority of you here are young. Or youngish. So please share this post with your older friends and loved ones.
10 Tips for Pee Planning your day trip

Your feedback welcome.

As I am “Down Under” I’m not sure what time it is everywhere else. I hope I’m not too late to the party!

Good luck to all with your blogs.


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Hi everyone

I hope you all had a good Christmas.

I have already made my New Year’s resolution.

For 2016 I will be redesigning my website for seniors. I want my website to be a source of information for the elderly from all countries around the world.

I would be grateful to receive any information or good informative links that you could recommend me about retirement and aging in Asian or African countries. Please send to m.butcher@iinet.net.au or use my Contact Me page.

I will be calling for guest posters once a month. If you have parents or grandparents who would like to write a guest post about retirement or aging, or any other interesting life story that they have, please let them know that they (or you on their behalf!) can email me at m.butcher@iinet.net.au. They do not have to have a blog or even be online. If they write in a different language I will use Google translate to edit their writing before publication.

Happy New Year to you all. I wish you all much success and heaps of traffic to your blogs in 2016!

Maddy #feedback #help

Apostrophes and apostrophe misuse

Are you apostrophobic?

The apostrophe is your friend. I know some of  you find him confusing because I’ve seen some of you hesitate, adding an apostrophe here or there when you really don’t need one. Sometimes you’re not sure if you’ve put him in the right spot. Other times you forget about your friend the apostrophe and leave him out altogether. I hope I can provide you with some ways to remember where and when you need your friend, and what he can do for your writing.

Running it all together

One of the most common uses of the apostrophe is to show that a letter or letters have been omitted.

Why do we omit letters? Consider the following sentences.

I am going to give her a doll for Christmas.

I’m going to give her a doll for Christmas.

Why do we say I’m instead of I am? Just try saying the first sentence aloud quickly several times. Did you find that I am became I’m? Sometimes when we speak, two words merge into one. It sounds rather awkward to say I am all the time, and it could single you out as a non-native speaker. Unless of course you are emphasising the word am.

You’re not a doctor are you?

Yes, I am a doctor. Continue reading


Passive or Active? Slippery or secure?

Are you passive or active?

Passive – Accepting or allowing what happens or what others do, without active response or resistance.

The Passive voice is all about having the subject having something done to it by the object.

Active – engaged in action, or doing. Energetic.

The Active voice is about the subject doing things to the object.

People who are passive by nature can become victims. Those who are active are more likely to become successful.

“He was completely overshadowed by her. He was overshadowed because he was passive.”

“She completely overshadowed him. She overshadowed him because she was active or more energetic, perhaps louder, than him.”

In the first sentence above, the subject is acted upon. The emphasis is on “He” and the fact that he was overshadowed.

In the second sentence, the subject “she” is more prominent. She completely overshadowed him because she was active.

When you want to shift focus from the subject to the object, use the passive voice. Let’s have a look at some more examples of active vs passive voice.

“The book was written by Ivor Penn.” – passive

“Ivor Penn wrote the book.” –  active

“The turkey is being cooked by Jane.” – passive

“Jane is cooking the turkey.” – active

When should you use the passive voice, and when the active?  It is a question of meaning and emphasis, and largely depends on the context.

If you are in doubt, it is better to use the active voice because it is more commonly used, it is clearer, and it is easier to follow.

Passive voice is often used to omit the active and responsible subject.

e.g. “Shots were fired” or “Heads will roll”.

The CEO made the employees redundant. – Active

The employees were made redundant. – Passive

The Slippery Slope of Spell Check

file2341253459198Many English words have more than one meaning. Compounding that difficulty, they may have more than one spelling as well. Because of that, spell check will not always work well for you. It’s a tricky business, especially because those words that have more than one meaning are often very basic ones. So there you have some very slippery slimy errors that can slither through your spell check and let everyone know that your English is not the best. The only way to avoid these errors is to learn the correct spelling and usage of basic words well. Then you can feel safe from errors that might slip through. Continue reading

#grammar, #weekly

Reflecting on the reflexive and who’s who.

Me myself and I

Imagine yourself, if you will, back in Edwardian times, when it was the fashion for ladies and gentlemen alike to own a dressing table set that included a brush, a comb and areflection hand held mirror.  Many of those sets had additional matching items such as containers for hair pins etc.  When our Edwardian lady looked into her mirror, she saw herself. She did not see anyone else, because her husband had a mirror of his own, and it was not the done thing to have anyone else in one’s boudoir unless you were royalty and had a chamber maid. In their case, “One sees oneself” would have been acceptable. Most royals have their grammar sorted, but for those of us not so well placed, we can just imagine that we own one of those lovely antique mirrors. Personally I imagine a very nice ornately decorated silver one. What do I see when I look into that mirror?  I see my reflection. This is when I need to use a reflexive pronoun and say “I see myself“.

Now if my hubby were to happen by and I caught a glimpse of him in my mirror, I might exclaim, “I can see you!” or I might say to myself, “I can see him!” What I would never say is “I see himself.” Only he can see himself–as we said before he has his own mirror.

Consider Narcissus as he saw his reflection in a pool and found that he was so very beautiful that he focused entirely on himself.  It is the same with reflexive pronouns:

I see myself. I can only see myself. Continue reading

#grammar, #weekly

@pamkirst2014 @thinkerv0 Hello Anand I…

@pamkirst2014 @thinkerv0

Hello Anand
I have posted the weekly grammar post but I couldn’t see how to make it sticky. Could you please do it for me?

I think I might be guilty of colon misuse! In my title, I am totally undecided whether I should have a colon, a semicolon, or merely another comma. What say you??



Commas, Periods (full stops), and semicolons: ellipses, dots and dashes.

The Comma

I’m sure you all know that a comma denotes a pause in a sentence and most of you have read the anonymous talker’s post on comma splice, so I will not go over that ground again.

Serial commas appear between items in a list, for example.

“I leave my entire estate to my daughters, Karen, Katie, and Kathleen.”

If you read the above sentence aloud, you will know where to put the commas from the pauses required. Karen, Katie, and Kathleen, having been given equal importance, will share the estate equally. Some people have been taught that “and” should not be used after a comma. This is not incorrect: it is a matter of style and usage. It is more common today to place a comma after “and” in a list, especially in legal documents because it makes the meaning clearer.

“I leave my entire estate to my daughters, Karen, Katie and Kathleen.”

Without the comma after Katie, the above sentence could be wrongly understood to mean that Karen is to get half and Katie and Kathleen will share the rest whereas the intent was that each daughter would receive an equal amount.

Commas are also used to show a pause before an independent clause, for example:

“Because she was late and feeling grumpy, Kathleen decided to stay at home.”

The first clause “Because she was late and feeling grumpy”  would not stand alone as a sentence, so the comma is needed, even though the second clause “Katherine decided to stay at home” is an independent clause, and would stand alone.


“Karen left at 9:00 a.m., but Katie didn’t leave until 11.00, and Kathleen decided to stay at home.”

Both the second clause “but Katie didn’t leave until 11.00” and the third “and Kathleen decided to stay at home” are dependent on the first. Neither would stand alone as a sentence, so again the commas are needed before the “but” and the “and”.

The Semicolon

In the next sentence, there are three independent clauses.

“Karen left at 9.00am; Katie didn’t leave until 11.00; Kathleen decided to stay home.

Three independent but related clauses have been formed into one sentence using semicolons.

The semicolon can also help us with our lists. Commas are fine for a simple list.

“Karen has been to New York, Paris, and Rome.

But sometimes lists are more complicated than that.

“Karen has been to New York, USA; Paris, France; and Rome, Italy.

Because our list items contain commas themselves, we have promoted the previously used commas to semicolons.

You may see semicolons used at the end of dot points in legal documents. This format is old-fashioned and no longer used.

The Colon

Phew . . .  Well after that, the colon is going to be a breeze. It can be used between two main clauses of a sentence, where the second clause relates to the first:

“He had two options: show up, or ring in sick.”

The colon (but never a semicolon) is also used to start a list, a numbered list or a series of dot points. The clause preceding a colon should be able to stand on its own as a sentence. 

A good tip for checking whether a colon is needed is to consider whether it could be replaced with the word “namely”.

“There are three different routes that you could take, namely the mountain route, the coastal route, and the motorway”

“There are three different routes that you could take: the mountain route, the coastal route, and the motorway.”

“The three routes you could take are, namely the mountain route, the coastal route, and the motorway.”

The sentence above doesn’t make sense, so the colon cannot be used.

See more from Pam on the misuse of colons HERE.

The Dot Point

If dot points following a colon are not full sentences, they should not begin with a capital letter and only the last dot point should end with a full stop.

There are many kinds of fruit:

  • apples
  • oranges
  • bananas
  • peaches.

Make sure that you:

  • lock all the doors
  • close the gate
  • put the rubbish out.

But if you are using full sentences for your dot points, start them with a capital letter and end them with a full stop—and keep them to a maximum of three lines each.  

Before leaving for the airport:

  • Check that your flight has not been delayed.
  • Check that you have your photo ID.
  • Make sure that your luggage is locked and labelled.
  • Make sure you have your reservation reference.
  • Check in online to save time when you get to the departure terminal.

The Full Stop or Period

Continue reading


Hello all,

Life interferes!

Do any of you find the same thing?

I have been trying to do too many things at once. It is enlightening to observe myself doing this even though my time is my own and I don’t have to go to work any more. It must be me!

I have just found the Alumni creative writing tips which I will read and apply to a story I am writing. I am a complete novice at it, but I have progressed from my Writing 101 efforts to another online course and have found that I just don’t want to let go of my story . . .

I am posting it here for #feedback because I will be editing it as I go along. I am wondering for example, whether Daisy should be the sole narrator or whether I should switch to other family members, such as the parents, brothers etc? What do you think?

My plan is for Daisy to move up into the attic and isolate herself from her family, but she will eventually leave home and others will refurbish & use the attic for various purposes at different times.

Hello Grammalumni!

I have written up a post on Commas, Periods, colons, semicolons, dot points, ellipses and N and M-dashes.
I would like someone to look it over before I post it up.
Should I save it as a draft in the Alumni part of my reader?
I would also like to know what day at what time, you would like me to publish it.

Many thanks to Deb for persuading me to do this. I really did need to brush up on my punctuation and I appreciate better the value of paying attention to detail – something I have never been too keen on!
I am now using Grammarly which is driving me insane because I often don’t agree with it. However, it is very good at making me take a second look, to make sure that I really do want to over-ride it.


Anand @thinkerv0
Kristina @kristinavanhoos
Rashmi @sashay909
Catherine @wynstep
Pam @pamkirst2014
Deb @dalees107

Hello all

For serious writers here which I know many of you are, I just signed up to this #freeonlinecourse ‘Start Writing Fiction’ by Future Learn at the Open University http://buff.ly/1LGJShr
Starts today but you can still sign up after it has started….Why don’t you join me?