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I understand how to use square brackets in quotes when adding full words, but if I am quoting something that was misspelled initially and want to correct the spelling, is it proper to do this? For example, I am quoting someone who said ”Additional, _____”, would it be appropriate for me to type ”Additional[ly], _____”?

  • Yes, it's fine. Additional[ly]. That's how a person quoting another one makes it grammatical, when it originally wasn't. – Lambie Feb 11 '18 at 21:42
  • Thank you so much for your reply!! I was fairly certain that this was correct, but I didn’t want to send the email and be incorrect, as I would feel foolish correcting someone who wasn’t in the wrong, or wrongly correcting them. ;) I used to be very good with grammar, but after suffering from a TBI, I don’t even feel like myself anymore. I was a 3.9+ GPA student, but the TBI had a major negative impact on my brain. Thanks again!! – Kai Mar 26 '18 at 15:42
  • Right, so I shouldn't tease you. But I cannot resist telling you that I know a German lad and his name is Kai, too. When I first heard the name, I thought it only applied to girls (ladies, women, whatever it PC.) My best wishes to you. – Lambie Mar 26 '18 at 20:23
  • That’s cool. I actually know a guy named Kai as well. My name is actually Kaila, but I go by Kai as a nickname. ;) – Kai Mar 28 '18 at 1:31
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It seems you have two options, if that part of the quote can't be omitted:

  • Do what you suggested -- Additional[ly]

  • Add [sic] after the word -- Additional [sic]

The first is probably the clearest way to communicate that you're quoting verbatim, yet also know there was an error to correct. As for the latter, be aware that many people associate a certain snarkiness with [sic], which is less pronounced by just correcting the error in brackets.

  • @Lambie I think you're right. Bracketing the whole word is misleading. Edited my answer. – clfm Feb 11 '18 at 22:06
  • It's fine now... – Lambie Feb 11 '18 at 22:07
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One way of showing that you, the person quoting text with errors in it, has noticed that they are errors is to use the Latin word "sic" meaning "thus", or in this context "don't blame me, that is what the ignoramus who I am quoting wrote".

So, in your example you would write:"Additional [sic],..."

This case seems clear, but, as a warning, if you are going to sic something, do check that it really is an error. I have certainly seen sic applied to things that were quite correct. Who's the ignoramus then?

  • Thank you all for your comments! I thought this was correct, but I wanted to be certain. :) – Kai Feb 12 '18 at 5:04

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