JS Tip 96: From the Writing Workshops: Three Quick Questions, Three Quick Answers

Which is correct: “Waiting in line” or “Waiting on line”? (Cassie Hanson)

Most people wait in line, unless the line is painted on the concrete and they stand on it. (Or they’re waiting for an internet page to open up.)  

Language varies by location. You’ll hear “in line” throughout the United States; “on line” in the northeastern states. Either is acceptable—depending on your location and your audience.

Comedian George Carlin argued he didn’t want to get on the plane; he wanted to get in the plane.

One space or two at the end of a sentence? (Jackie Mattila)


Yup. One.

The rules have changed since you were in high school. In high school, in typing class, you practiced on a mechanical typewriter with a monospaced font (usually “Courier”: the “i” got as much space as the “m”). And you typed two spaces after a period to visually convey the end of the sentence.

Now you’re working on a computer with word-processing software. You have proportional fonts. The computer does the spacing. And you only need one space.

If you’re curious about this, go to the internet. Find a text you respect. Cut and paste that text into your word-processing program. Search for double spaces. You won’t find any.

How might we decide between using “somebody” or “someone”? “Anybody” or “anyone”? (Bonnie Byman)

Every resource we’ve consulted indicates they’re completely—and absolutely—interchangeable. Now. How might you decide which one to use? Whichever one you feel most comfortable with. Whichever one you feel sounds better. Listen to the poetry in your mind.

If you have questions, let us know. We love this stuff.

Next week: More short questions. This is fun.