I see a lot of complaints these days from editors, executives reviewing resumes, followers of blogs and websites, and readers about the blight of improper usage in writers’ prose.

Be it a novel, nonfiction book, product description, query, resume, Facebook post, Tweet, blog, or website, improper usage is running rampant.

These are very simple, very basic words and punctuation. The kinds of words and punctuation you’re supposed to nail down in elementary school.

Lately, the problem plagued the posts of a popular writers’ group I belong to. When I finally spoke up and explained the proper usage of common words misused in a prior post, some of the group members got offended.

“Gee whiz, punctuation cop, this is just a post.”

Well, yes. But when a reader—me, for instance—sees improper usage, she often just moves on. Why? Because when she—that would be me—reads an improper usage, even something that may seem trivial, the reader thinks, “Oh, this writer didn’t even care enough to copyedit her post—book—product description. Why should I care?”

The writer could be expressing a graceful turn of phrase, a witticism, or an astute insight, but this reader thinks, “Eh. Next.”

So I present you with this Open Challenge. Properly use each line of words listed below in one sentence.

Ready, steady, Go!

Your, you’re
There, their, they’re
Its, it’s
Two, too, to
Then, than
May, might
Affect, effect
Farther, further
Black-and-gold, black and gold (the hyphens are the issue)

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