Just because You’ve Always Written Something That Way Doesn’t Mean Your Writing’s Right Uncategorized / Writing & Grammar

Hello everyone:

I had a student recently who insisted that she had always written her APA formatted essays with the period after the quote and left nothing at the end of the sentence. “Well, bully for Terry Elizabeth,” as my mother always said.

Folks, that is soooo 5th edition. That would be fine, if we still graded from the 5th edition of the APA Style Manual. But we don’t. I don’t. I tell everyone at the start of the term that I will be grading from the 6th edition and will count them down if they persist in ignoring that fact.

What if you “always” misspelled the words “our” and “are” and “then” and “than?” That wouldn’t make it any more correct than if you use the wrong style manual. It would just be wrong. You would lose points. Why be stubborn about this? You won’t win.

To finish our brief time together today, let me explain about the very old-fashioned expression I used earlier in this blog, “Well, bully for Terry Elizabeth.” “Bully” used to mean the equivalent of “knock yourself out” or “big deal, who cares.” Terry Elizabeth was a young gal whose pre-school birthday was being honored at a lavish party. Her mother went on and on about all of her little girl’s accomplishments, ad nauseam.

My grandmother, who was there with my mother, was about fed up with the bragging that the woman was doing on behalf of this little girl whose major accomplishments to date had been minuscule. A woman next to my grandmother turned to her and said, “Well, bully for Terry Elizabeth.” It stuck. Whenever my family wants to acknowledge something that is completely unremarkable, we say, “Well, bully for Terry Elizabeth.”


Dr. Sheri


Sheri Dean Parmelee has a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from Regent University. She writes books on practical tips for people who become unexpectedly unmarried and is working on her second novel in a series of contemporary romance/suspense novels. She teaches at three colleges, working with students from freshmen to graduate students. Her hobbies include running 8 miles a day and reading biographies and fiction.

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