Not every Friday afternoon in the dining room office can involve a trip to see Hot Tub Time Machine. Occasionally, I do have to do actual work on the book, leading to some weighty questions.
For instance, I just spent 10 minutes debating whether I should write “How this mall was able to hang on to these franchises but let, say, the Orange Julius slip through its grasp is fascinating to me” or “How this mall was able to hang onto these franchises but let, say, the Orange Julius slip through its grasp is fascinating to me.”
Bryson’s Dictionary for Writers and Editors gave me a helpful way to figure it out. If “on” and “to” are functioning as a compound preposition, then it’s one word; if “on” is instead an adverb modifying the verb, then it’s “on to.”
Of course, this assumes I remember the definition of a preposition well enough to decipher whether I’m actually using the words in that way. Let’s look it up in the old Webster’s dictionary.
Premolar. Preoperative. Preposterous. Whoops, too far. Ah, preposition:
“a function word that typically combines with a noun phrase to form a phrase which usu. expresses a modification or predication.”
I’ll tell you one thing: I’m earning this book deal.