Cracking Grammar: How to Properly Use ‘You and I’ and ‘You and me’

Cracking Grammar is for those of us who properly suck at grammar at times. And it isn’t so much that we’re bad at it, but the way grammar was explained to us wasn’t at all very child friendly. I actually don’t recall having much of an impression while learning English grammar and usage. It was all very monotonus; these are the rules and that’s that. For those of us who need tips and tricks to remembering all these Dos and Dont’s this ones for you.

‘You and I’ or ‘You and me’

Many of us are oblivious to the correct usage of ‘ You and I’ and ‘You and me’. I had actually come across this common problem on Facebook. A friend of mine was retelling a conversation she was having with her 4 year old. She had asked her what she had done that day and she responded ‘You and I went to the grocery store’. She had corrected her and said ‘No hunny, its ‘You and me went  to the grocery store” and felt proud enough to post the experience to the internet. There were people that ‘awwed’ and congratulated her on the moment but I was having a migraine, something felt off. I ran to google to confirm, lo and behold the child was right!

I’m not going to give you the basic English teacher lecture on Grammar. I attempt always to find a way to crack the code and make the seemingly exhausting, simpler.

Look at the two sentences below:

You and I should see the Kiss concert next week.

You and me should see the Kiss concert next week.

Now, how do we tell which one is correct? The trick is to simply exclude the other participant or the ‘You’. The sentences would then read:

I should see the Kiss concert next week.

Me should see the Kiss concert next week.

Clearly ‘I’ in this case is the correct word.

Now these:

Joan mentioned you and I at her party.

Joan mentioned you and me at her party.

Break it down:

Joan mentioned I at her party.

Joan mentioned me at her party.

‘Me’ is correct.

Always simply exclude the other person and see if the sentence makes sense without them.

I hope with my help you’ve cracked the code. Good luck and Happy Writing!

How to Get Paid (for freelancers outside of the US, UK and Canada)

I have mentioned this topic briefly in past posts but I still get the same question over and over. So I thought it appropriate to dedicate a post to this very legitimate problem.

For Jamaicans, and for foreigners (outside of the US, Canada and UK) in general, it is very difficult to acquire money and payments lodged to Paypal. We get paid and it sits there. This is as a result of several:

  • Paypal does not offer a wide variety of withdrawal options for foreigners
  • Paypal’s Debit Card is not accessible to us
  • Most companies will ONLY pay you through Paypal

I have encountered all of these issues. So I will expound briefly on them and attempt to offer you a solution.

Paypal

Paypal provides Jamaicans and other foreigners only two withrawal options:

  • Cheque (Check): which takes 4-6 business days. (This service costs US$5. Not to mention the entire month it will sit in your account until it is cleared IF it arrives.)
  • Bank Withdrawal: only available if you have a US Bank account. (mmhhhhhhmmm)

My biggest issue has always been getting my money out of Paypal and into my hands. And applying for a cheque never seemed at all practical. It is also very odd to me that in order to activate your account you must load a credit/debit card. You are able to add funds to your Paypal account using your credit/debit card but you cannot withdraw funds to it.

Paypal does offers a Paypal Debit/Credit card… but sadly, not to foreigners.

Unless you have a US Bank Account or wish to wait for a cheque in the mail, then you are plum out of luck. And so was I till I thought about this:

My Solution

Please note, this solution is not instant. At most it will take 4-5 days given no one procrastinates. But, it does work and with the options I was presented it seemed worth it. Here is a run down of my simple plan:

  1. Find a trustworthy relative or friend residing in the U.S with a Paypal account. Please note: trustworthy.
  2. Send your money to them via Paypal.
  3. Have them withdraw it from Paypal to their US Bank account. (takes maybe a day or two to clear for them)
  4. They then visit Western Union or any other applicable money transfer center and send your money to you. (They can either swipe their bank card there or withdraw your cash beforehand. You may want to have couple bucks reserved for fees.)

Ok, I know what you are thinking. Sounds exhausting, especially for the person on the other end.  The truth is, it really isn’t. For one, transferring your cash to them via Paypal is done online, and so is transfering that to their US Bank Account. The only travelling I can imagine is visiting Western Union and going through that process.

I had a friend do this for me on more than one occasion and the only time she left home was at step 4.  So if your Aunty starts bawling about how she has no gas to drive up and down for you… tell her this. *wink*

Payoneer

Payoneer is a payment solution for freelancers. It is a payment solution service and offers foreigners a Debit Mastercard that can be loaded and used anywhere in the world. You receive a physical Mastercard which can be used at ATMs or in-stores, gas stations etc. I have had a Payoneer card for some time and it does work! My employer pays me through Payoneer and I get the money in a few hours. I can then use my card anywhere in Jamaica. (my review)

Solution

Most employers (Freelancer, Elance,  London Brokers ) are now offering payments through Payoneer. Once you sign up for this service through these websites the card is issued to you. It arrives in about 2 weeks and all you do is activate it online and it is ready to go. Family members can load your card using any card of theirs as well.

So there you have it. I hope this post has been very helpful to you all. Good luck and Happy Writing.

Please feel free to comment and subscribe.

-FWJ

How to Not Stop

After quite a long dry spell I am back. With a words of wisdom and a confession.

Freelance writing was once something I did daily. And when I first began I was doing work for chum change. I pay my own bills and I do this full-time so at some points I would be doing maybe 20 articles a day in order to make a substantial amount of money to live. This, as you can imagine, became more of a chore than ‘something I love to do’. And sooner rather than later I became annoyed with freelance writing and tried my hands at other things. Nevertheless, as a full-time freelance writer, as many of you can attest to, sometimes you slow down until you rather do nothing than write a 500 word article on massage therapy… or even worse, ingrown hair.

Once you stop it is hard to start again. Let me reiterate: once you stop working you don’t want to start again. And this is what happened to me. There were days when I would stare at the job board on content mills and pretend I didn’t see the plethora of articles waiting to be taken. Why? I was tired. Not physically, but mentally tired of writing. And worse, tired of writing where it seems I do not get a substantial amount of money in return.

Once you stop it is hard to start again.

I am now one of those persons who hates content mills. So I took the next step. I faced something I was always fearful of. I applied to a news publication. And as of now I am shortlisted to become a permanent provider for them (more info coming if I get the job).  I cannot really tell you why I was afraid of writing for publications? Maybe it is because I have no actual formal training when it comes to writing. Writing for me in inate and I have always done it and enjoyed it and, if I might add, I am very good at it.

Try applying for a job at a publication.

What happens when you tire of writing for content mills, where you sign over your work and you can’t put it on your resume as something you have done? Try applying for a job at a publication (you can also say ‘ try applying directly to the client’). There are many. In fact just simply googling ‘Write for Us’ will bring up a plethora of options. And they pay handsomely as well. Some articles, if approved, can earn you up to US$100. If you are good at graphic design or health writing, find a website or publication that caters to that and send them a fresh article to show your skill. This is the next best thing and will surely help you pay those bills without having you fall asleep on your couch after staring at the text on your screen all day (yes, this happens to me a lot).

Since I have said that I will be trying to provide you all with Write for Us information from varying sites and I will create a new category just for these posts. I know it may be difficult to pull yourself from the writing you are doing now to search for more jobs. Trust me, I know. So I will help.

I hope you found this post helpful and feel free to comment.

-FWJ

How to Create A Freelance Writing Resume

I have come across many job opportunities which asked for a resume. Some of which I passed on because I did not have a resume at the time. Creating a freelance writing resume is, well, quite easy. Following a few steps one shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes to create.

Remember that as a freelance writer you should be able to exhibit a number of key skills. Ensure to touch on these skills throughout your resume:

  • Knowledge of a variety of topics
  • The ability to research on any given topic
  • The skill to organize your research into a well-written article
  • Ability to work efficiently and professionally

THE USUAL

Every resume, regardless of job or position has several must-haves.

  • Your full name (goes without saying)
  • Your website name and address if available (this site should be about writing and showcase your skills)
  • Your contact information (this should include your telephone number, email address etc. Some writers may have a professional skype or other IM account. Including this information is optional)

Example:

Abigail Smith

http://www.freelancewritingjournal.wordpress.com

Tel: 555.555.1234

Address: No. 9 Abbey Road, Yonder Hills, Jamaica

Skype: professionalaccount

THE OBJECTIVE

The objective can either be job specific or generic.

Example:

A job specific objective may read, “To obtain employment as a columnist at the Example Resume Company.”

A generic objective may read, “To provide web content, articles and product reviews to small business websites that will help to improve their visibility within their niche.”

QUALIFICATIONS/AREAS OF EXPERTISE

A freelance writing resume will include qualifications or areas of expertise versus the traditional job history we are all accustomed to. While some writers may add their job history some do not. My take on this issue is that writing resumes will normally have links to writing samples. Whether you wrote an article for a publication or your article was uploaded to a clients site. If you plan on adding writing samples I personally don’t find it necessary to add a job history section as well. The writing samples will give the client the best idea of your skill and competency moreso than a list of places you have worked.

Your qualifications can be in list form or a short paragraph. However, a list form is easier on the eyes.

Example:

Summary of Qualifications

  • Years of writing experience in a wide variety of topics
  • Great skill with meeting deadlines,keeping content concise and to the point and working on multiple topics at once
  • Perfect hand at MS tools such as WORD, EXCEL and tremendous search traits at the web platform
  • Very high speed typing and reading capabilities

AND/OR

Areas of Expertise

  • SEO Articles
  • Blogging
  • How-To Articles
  • Product Reviews
  • Technology Guides, etc.

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

This is like listing your job experience but as a freelance writer many of us have had quite a lot of clients and writing jobs. Listing them in their entirety, which includes position, responsibilities, achievement etc, will maybe take up a few pages. Instead, keep this area compact. If possible, include links of your published work. A great way to make this section concise and informative is to create sections:

Example:

(the numbers below should be links and when clicked should lead to a sample of your work. You may include links in any format/way that you see fit)

Professional Experience

Freelance Writer

  • Acme Newspaper, Columnist, 2006-2008 [1][2][3]
  • Bedroom Publishing Company, Editor, 2007-2010 [1][2]

Freelance Website Content Writer

EDUCATION AND TRAINING/ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENTS

This speaks for itself. List any and all academic/schooling you have had that pertains to your writing. This includes, courses, degrees, diplomas, certificates etc.

Example:

  • University of Mississippi, Jackson, MS: Bachelor of Arts and English Literature 2007
  • Carolina University, MS: post graduate of the Arts and Modern English Literature 2004

REMEMBER

  1. Ensure you are allowed to provide potential clients with links to published work. As a website content writers oftentimes you will sign over all rights of the article to the client.
  2. The best way to link to articles that you have written is to register at EzineArticles, Ehow, and Hubpages where you can upload fresh articles under your name.
  3. You may need to produce more than one type of resume. One for becoming a columnist and another for becoming a content writer, for example. Having multiple types of resumes will save you time in the long run.
  4. If you are mailing your resumes (not emailing) obviously links will not work. Send along a few short articles attached to your resume along with a web address to where it is published online.
  5. Update your resume with each job you acquire. This saves much time and confusion lest you forget the names of clients or publications in the future.

Where You Write/Work Matters

Since my office is now floor to ceiling storage I’ve been without my writing room/home office for months and consequently, my writing has suffered. This helped me realize that where you write matters immensely. Here are a few tips for creating a comfortable home office or writing nook.

THE HOME OFFICE

Whether you are a part-time or full-time write a novelist, or work at home mom you will need a professional and comfortable room to work in.

  • Choose a room with a computer or writing desk and a proper chair to support your back. Sitting in a couch will promote a slouch and this does take a toll on your back and attitude. You will be more prone to falling asleep when you are reclined.
  • A couch and foot stool is okay for taking breaks or getting inspired. However, never use it as your primary writing area.
  • Keep away from distracting things. Televisions are the root to procrastination. Instead, a small radio should be your substitute. Play tunes at a low and background noise level.
  • Have everything you need close by. Items like pen and paper, a dictionary etc. Instead of interrupting your work by looking for the items you may need they should be at arms length.
  • Adequate lighting and cooling. It makes absolutely no sense to have yourself locked in a dark room that is hot and uncomfortable. You will not enjoy being in your writing room for long periods of time.

Tip: Custom made shelving and desks can be very helpful in order to utilize as much space as possible. Make your home office comfortable. There is no need for it to be too posh and serious.

THE WRITING NOOK

Not everyone will have a home office or room to convert into an office. I find the idea of a writing nook very fascinating. You do not require much space. Just enough to include a desk and chair and possibly integrate shelving for books.

  • Transform a nook or empty space of your home into a writing nook.
  • You will need a desk and chair and possibly shelving or drawers to store your supplies.
  • Keep your writing nook away from distractions like televisions and children. For work at home moms find an area of your home with the least kid traffic. If you have young children install a baby gate to prevent them from running amok near your work space.
  • Accessorise your work nook with flowers, sculptures, a wall calendar, clock etc

Tip: a writing nook can be a closet (see picture above), an empty space near a window, a patio or balcony or even unused space on your kitchen counter.

Learned VS Learnt

Working on my novel the other night brought this question to mind. My upbringing in terms of spelling and grammar was slightly confusing. In prep school they used and taught from the A Beka curriculum which included spelling and grammar. The issue which I later learnt when entering High School is that Jamaica uses the British spelling and grammar rules while A Beka was a U.S publication. Needless to say the rest of my life has been riddled with “misspellings” and even now my readers may note that I use both in my writing. Unintentionally of course.

I typed learnt into a document and it came up mispelt. My word processor is set to the U.S Language since I write for many clients who follow the U.S spelling and grammar rules. I know that this alteration in spelling and grammar by these two countries has confused quite a few of us.  Well here is FWJ to save the day.

LEARNED vs LEARNT

First off, this issue is purely a difference in how two regions spell this word. Therefore, both words are correct. But this purely depends on your assignment or where you are from.

THE VERB

Both words are the past tense of the verb LEARN which means:

1. Gain or acquire knowledge of or skill in (something) by study, experience, or being taught.

2. Commit to memory.

LEARNED when ended with ‘ED’ is American English.

LEARNT when ended with a ‘T’ is British English

THE ADJECTIVE

Both learned and learnt are alternative spellings of the past tense and past participle of the verb learn.

Learnt is more common in British English, and learned in American English.

English (as in Queen’s English):
learned“: a present participle that performs the role of an adjective by qualifying a following noun.
learnt“: a past participle that performs the role of a adjective by qualifying a noun.

These words will be participles only if used along with a helping verb, also called an auxiliary verb like “to be” or “to have”. If used without an auxiliary verb, there is a possibility that the word “learnt” is actually a verb and not a participle. This depends entirely upon the sentence structure.

Both these words are derived from the infinitive of the verb “to learn”. While “learned” refers to a current state of acquired knowledge of the accusative noun, in this case the the noun following the word “learned”; the word “learnt” refers to a past incident that caused the accusative noun to become aware of something or gain some knowledge.

Examples:
Stephen Hawkins is a learned man.” [present participle: “learned”; auxiliary verb: “is” (to be)]
I have learnt a lot of thing by attending this class.” [past participle: “learnt”; auxiliary verb: “have” (to have)]
I learnt about it last night.” [verb: “learnt”; auxiliary verb: none, not required, because “learnt” is a verb in it’s own right]

If the sentence “I learnt about it last night.” sounds confusing as to why “learnt” is a verb, try rephrasing it as “I did learn about it last night.“. Although there is a subtle difference between the two sentences, they convey the same meaning. (source)

OTHER WORDS

There are a few other words which follow this rule when used in the past tense. If you know of any more feel free to add them in the comment box.

burned, burnt
dreamed, dreamt
kneeled, knelt
leaned, leant
leaped, leapt
spelled, spelt
spilled, spilt
spoiled, spoilt

 

-FWJ