Posts Tagged ‘tip’

Writing Tip ~ Pour/Pore/Poor and Plain/Plane

More simple words that are often confused when writing our family histories – pour/pore/poor and plain/plane.

Writing confusing words

The cowPour/pore/poor

To pour something, is to empty liquid from one container to another – as in, “Grandpa’s farm girl once tried to pour milk from the bucket into Grandpa’s mug, but she was short-sighted and missed the mug. The left-over milk in Grandpa’s boots didn’t smell good after a while.”

Pore used as a noun, is an opening in the skin or in plant leaves – as in, “Mother said the day was so hot that the pores on Grandpa’s nose grew large and shiny.” Pore as a verb means to examine something – as in “I pored over the tiny writing on the old certificates, trying to read Great-grandmother’s last name.”

When a person is poor, they don’t have enough money – as in, “Great-grandfather Potts had twelve children, and they were so poor that he couldn’t afford shoes for them all.”


The word plain can either mean ordinary, or it can mean a flat stretch of land – as in, “Great-grandfather Potts’ second child, Elspeth, was a kind, plain-looking girl who married a farmer from the Canadian Plains.”

A plane is a tool used to smooth wood – as in, “Great-grandfather Potts’ third boy, Mahonri, was a gifted carpenter. When he worked with wood, it looked like the plane was gliding over butter.”


Writing Tip ~ Altogether/All Together and Apart/A Part

Some simple words to explain this week – simple, yet often confused when writing our family histories – altogether/all together, and apart/a part.

Writing confusing words

Altogether/all togetherToo large hat

Altogether means entirely – as in, “Aunt Jemima’s hat was altogether too large for her little, baby face.”

A group that is all together is gathered in one place – as in, “Aunt Jemima and the girls were all together when the photograph was taken. The hat proved an instant identifier for generations to come.”

Apart/a part

The word apart is used when something is separated – as in, “Aunt Jemima’s hat fell apart one stormy day and she never could rebuild it quite the same.”

When something is a part of something else, it is joined with it – as in, “The new riding school was a part of the old farm, but visitors never knew this because the farmhouse was far from the road, way across the field.”

Writing Tip ~ Supposed to/Suppose & Incite/Insight

This week, I’ll explain four more confusing words we might see when writing our family histories — supposed to/suppose, and incite/insight.

Writing confusing words

marriageSupposed to/suppose

Supposed to is correct, suppose to is incorrect. Supposed to means”to be obligated to” or “presumed to” – as in, “Great-Aunt Freda was supposed to marry Jim Shivers in May 1892, but saw him beat a kitten two days before the wedding, so changed her mind, and married Theodore Cuddles in July 1893. 

The word suppose means to guess, surmise, or assume – as in, “I suppose Great-Aunt Freda had one child since I only ever heard about her son Billy. I should research further for accuracy.”


Incite means to encourage, stir, or prompt to action – as in, “Billy’s cousin, Paul, once tried to incite his class at school to riot, but the other children ignored Paul and saved him from disaster.”

To have insight means to see into inner character, or see an underlying truth – being able to discern the true nature of a thing – as in, “Great-Aunt Freda’s insight into the true character of Jim Shivers saved her from a life of suffering. Jim ended up in prison for manslaughter in 1898.”

Writing Tip ~ Through/Threw and Thorough/Though

Here are a few more interesting words often used when writing family histories – through/threw and thorough/though.

Writing confusing words

Through/threwVictorian House

Through means something is finished. It can also mean going into and coming out of a situation or place – as in, “Nana Barclay went  up creaky stairs and through a narrow door to reach her attic bedroom in the family’s Victorian house in London.”

Threw is the past tense of the word “throw” – as in, “After Grandpa’s tragic death at an early age, Grandma Elsie threw away his garden spade before it could cause another accident.”

Thorough is a word that means complete or careful – as in, “Great-grandpa Billings knew the meaning of a thorough clean all right. If the family buggy didn’t look as good as new, he wasn’t allowed to borrow it to take Great-grandma to the dance.”

Though means however, or nevertheless – as in, “Great-uncle Tom’s bedroom in the old London home was also in the attic, though not on the same side as Nana Barclay’s room.”

Writing Tip – Em-Dash


I’m happy to once again welcome author Tristi Pinkston who is contributing to our writing tips today. She shares information about the em-dash – something we all need to know – whether writing about family history or writing a novel.

NB: There’s a little “Like” button top left of Tristi’s picture. Please click if you agree with her information. Thanks so much!

Tristi Pinkston

Tristi is a talented writer and editor. The title of her latest mystery/comedy is Dearly Departed.

What is an em-dash?

An em-dash is the dash we see most often in fiction writing. It’s the length of two hyphens.  An en-dash is the length of one hyphen, and is used to separate numbers. But an em-dash is what we use for parenthetical comments. For instance, “She hoped he’d ask her to the dance – as a teenager, she’d never been invited to go to the prom – and maybe this was her chance to have those experiences.”

To properly make an em-dash, do the following: type your first word. In my example above, I would type “dance” and then I would hit the hyphen twice, without spacing. Then type your second word (“as,” in my example) and then hit the space. Word will take those two hyphens and create an em-dash. [See step-by-step guide below]

Or, you can push down “control” and “alt” and then hit the minus on the number pad on your keyboard.

The en-dash is something you don’t see a lot in fiction.  If you were writing nonfiction, you might say, “See pages 74-76 for more information.” You wouldn’t use a regular hyphen there – you would want the en-dash.

So, how do you make the em-dash? You hit “control” and then the minus on the number pad. Note: It won’t work if you use the minus over the letter P – it needs to be the minus on the number pad.

Setting up the automatic em-dash in Microsoft Word

Click on the Office Button and then click on “Word Option” bottom right.

Click on “Proofing” and choose “AutoCorrect Options.”

Choose the “AutoFormat” tab and make sure “Hyphens” is checked.

Click on “AutoFormat As You Type” tab and make sure “Hyphens” is again checked. Then click on OK. This creates an em-dash in your manuscript.

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