A Rose By Any Other Name Wednesday, Sep 24 2014 

If your name is misspelled in print, is it still your name? The Chicago Tribune recently ran a story on the many times and ways Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s name has been misspelled, including in the Tribune. Even the White House website had it wrong when he was Chief of Staff. You think they’d check the spelling before listing his name.

I have to admit, I’ve misspelled names as well. In my first book, I omitted the “e” from Carole’s name. I also spelled Terri’s name with a “y” in a newspaper article.

In one of the articles I wrote for the Chicago Tribune, they incorrectly corrected Cooky the Clown’s name to Cookie.

And my own name has been misspelled many times. Doyle has been changed to Boyle and my married name of Brodien’s been spelled a variety of ways. Years ago I received a bill from a hospital after delivering a baby where my name was noted as Mark instead of Mary K (for Kathleen). No wonder the insurance company initially denied the claim.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

Writing Clinic: All Together/Altogether, All Ready/Already, All Right/Alright Thursday, Mar 21 2013 

In the English language, we love to combine our words but then become confused as to how to use them, especially if the meaning changes slightly. We often find this with words that involve all, such as all together and altogether; all ready and already; and all right and alright.

Here are a few tips to help keep them straight:

A good way to remember when to use all together or altogether is that all together is used when the items that are grouped remain separate whereas altogether indicates the blending of the items, such as seen in the words themselves.

All together means “in unison,” “gathered in one place.” Use this pair of words when several things or people are brought into close proximity.


  • The workers met all together in the cafeteria.
  • The choir sang all together.

Altogether means “entirely,” “completely.” If you can substitute either of these words, use altogether.


  • Mix the ingredients altogether. (Mix the ingredients completely.)
  • This book is altogether different from the first one in the series. (This book is entirely different from the first one in the series.)

* * *

All ready means something is “completely prepared.” If you can use only the word “ready,” then “all ready” is correct.


  • Dinner is all ready. (Dinner is completely prepared. Dinner is ready.)
  • My speech is all ready for the convention. (My speech is ready.)

Already has to do with time. This word means “by now,” “before now,” or “prior to a specified time.”


  • I arrived at the theater by eight but the play already started.
  • She wanted another cookie but already brushed her teeth.

You can see the difference when used in the same sentence: Jack was all ready for work but his train already came.


All right and alright are interchangeable with some restrictions. Alright is generally accepted, but some sources continue to state that the word is a misspelling of all right. You may want to use the full form in academic or more conservative writings.

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

Why the Nuns Should Oversee the Internet Monday, Mar 11 2013 

We were warned. Bad behavior would become part of our PERMANENT RECORD. Our shenanigans would be evident to the world and follow us forever.

When I was a kid, the Sisters, more commonly referred to as “The Nuns,” used the ominous threat of our actions being etched in stone to control the large classrooms of more than 50 students. I don’t know if that made any difference to the bad kids, but the Miss Goody Two Shoes, which includes you-know-who, took this message very seriously. I didn’t want anything to get into the way of maintaining an unblemished PERMANENT RECORD.

We laugh at that disciplinary threat today but we also have to admit, the nuns were right. Many of our actions follow us to the grave. Nowhere is that more certain than on the Internet, which is why I think the nuns should oversee it.

We’ve been told a hundred times that nothing is forgotten or forgiven online. Social media owns our rants, ridicules, and inappropriate postings and photos in perpetuity – forever.

If the nuns were running the show, we’d be stopped in our tracks before posting. We quickly would be reminded and reprimanded saving us from another regrettable entry on our PERMANENT RECORD.

Here are a few other ways the nuns would improve our online experience:

  • Respect. The number one rule would be to respect one another and ourselves. Every post, email, or website would respect the rights of every viewer.
  • Posture. The nuns required us to stand tall, so too, online, we would present ourselves strong and true.
  • Homework. No shooting from the hip or blabbing on about topics that we know nothing about. Postings would be researched and substantiated with credible resources.
  • Quiet Time. If we don’t have something of substance to say, no entry would be allowed. This is when we’d be watching, listening, reading, and learning.
  • Service. Much of our online presence would make a difference, it would be an avenue to improve the lives of those less fortunate.
  • Better Dating Services. No touching, no foul or inappropriate language, and no revealing photos allowed. The nuns know who belongs with whom. Everyone would end up partnered, married, and live happily ever after.
  • Editing. At the very least, our spelling and grammar would be impeccable.

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

You’re Your Own Person Thursday, Sep 27 2012 

Texting is resulting in a society that no longer can write appropriately. Because of the constant flow of quick messaging, we’re often hurried and sloppy in our spelling and grammar usage. The misuse of contractions is particularly common.

Contractions are the shortened versions of words or groups of two or more words. Unlike compound words that use the words in their complete form, as illustrated in the word “bookkeeper,“ contractions replace a letter or two with an apostrophe. For example, “they” and “are” becomes “they’re;” “do” and “not” becomes “don’t;” and “I” and “am” becomes “I’m.”

When unsure of using words with the same sounds such as “your” and “you’re,” ask yourself if the word can be replaced with the full form such as “you are.” If so, use the contraction (or the full form).  It’s very simple and only takes just one more moment. The more often you spell the words correctly the easier it becomes.

©2012, Mary K. Doyle

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