Wilcox Editing Services

The Particular: Editing Weblog

Passive Voice

If you have ever taken a composition course, your instructors have probably admonished you not to use passive voice. But what exactly is passive voice, and why shouldn’t one use it?

I have noticed some confusion in the writing world between the idea of a passive construction (a more general concept) and the specific grammatical phenomenon called passive voice. »

Word of the Day

I’d like to start a new tradition in 2010 of keeping a log of interesting words I find throughout my travels. Definitions are from Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate 11.

Today’s word: hecatomb

  1. an ancient Greek and Roman sacrifice of 100 oxen or cattle 2. the sacrifice or slaughter of many victims.

Found in Jorge Luis Borges, Collected Fictions, trans. Andrew Hurley, in “In Memoriam, J.F.K.”:

In the mid-seventeenth century, vengeance had employed [this bullet] for the assassination of Sweden’s Gustavus Adolphus, in the midst of the public hecatomb of a battle.”

Comma Between Adjectives? Part III: Approaching the Grey

If you’ve read parts I and II of my Comma Between Adjectives? series, you already have a lot to think about when making your decision about comma usage: are the adjectives coordinate or cumulative? Are they in fact adjectives, or are they modifying nouns? This post will give you one more way to think about the problem. It will also show that, even armed with all the analytical tools from parts I through III, you may encounter cases that defy a tidy understanding. »

Uproar over Amazon Retracting Select Kindle Editions

Uproar Over Amazon Retracting Select Kindle Editions : A storm is brewing in the Kindle Community forum about Amazon’s decision to remove e-book editions of George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm from customers’ devices.

Comma Between Adjectives? Part II: If It Walks Like a Duck But Has No Feathers . . .

Now that you know the difference between cumulative and coordinate adjectives, you might wonder, which kind of adjective is the word baseball in baseball cap? The word baseball describes the main noun cap, so would you ever place a comma between another modifer and baseball? »


Erin Wilcox is not only an extraordinary writer, but a gifted copyeditor and proofreader. She brings to her work meticulous attention to language and craft as well as a wealth of knowledge on grammar and mechanics.”

Leslie Hsu Oh,
Dragons in the Deep