Literary Life Hacks

Many people use “compose” and “comprise” interchangeably.

The pizza comprises 8 slices – CORRECT
The pizza is composed of 8 slices – CORRECT
The pizza is comprised of 8 slices – INCORRECT

“Make up” is an acceptable alternative and can be used in the active or passive voice. The pizza is made up of 8 slices. Eight slices make up the pizza.

We are not making up this rule.

Contrary to popular belief, the word “myriad” is not a noun. It’s an adjective.

Incorrect: ADG staff facilitated a myriad of events this fall.

Correct: ADG staff facilitated myriad events this fall.

If you really need a noun, “plethora” is acceptable (“a plethora of events”). It means a lot.

I feel frustrated when people use the word “feel” incorrectly.
I feel they don’t know how to write well.

The first sentence uses the word “feel” correctly. The second does not.

Simple rule of thumb: If what you’re “feeling” is more than a single adjective’s worth, it’s not a feeling. Use “think,” “believe,” “surmise,” “expect” or some other verb that describes brain activity, not emotion. Check out for some ideas.

If it just, well, feels right to use “feel” instead, plug in that single adjective after it:

We feel the conference will be a success.
We expect the conference will be a success.
We feel confident the conference will be a success.

To hyphenate or not to hyphenate — that is the question. A general rule is that if the words in question go with (usually before) a noun, hyphenate. If they go with (usually after) a verb, do not.

They had a face-to-face meeting. They met face to face.
He has a full-time job. He works full time.

Adjective-noun combinations that modify other nouns should also be hyphenated to avoid confusion: Small-business owner, criminal-court judge. We don’t want to call the business owner’s stature or the judge’s morals into question!

Dates should not have a suffix on the number (10th, 23rd, etc.) if the month is present. (July 4, 1776, not July 4th, 1776). Only use the -th, -st, -nd, -rd suffixes if there is no month (“See you on the 23rd!”).

In everyday usage it is not necessary to append this year to a date (May 1 is sufficient; you don’t need to say May 1, 2019). You may not even need next year if it’s clear from the context what year it is (“Join us for our 2020 Conference on February 1 and 2”). Exception: legal language (contracts, disclaimers, official rules).