I love Fark. If you haven’t read their “news” stories, you really should. You are in for a treat. Diverging from their normal “news of the weird” types of posts, Fark links to this Lit Reactor post by John Gingerich entitled 20 Common Grammar Mistakes that (Almost) Everyone Makes. To encourage you to hit the link and read the gems, I am not going to copy here the usage rules, but I will point you in the right direction with the instances of grammar danger, a few of which hit my pet peeve list:
Who and Whom
Which and That
Lay and Lie
Continual and Continuous
Envy and Jealousy
May and Might
Whether and If
Fewer and Less
Farther and Further
Since and Because
Disinterested and Uninterested
Different Than and Different From
Bring and Take
Impactful (*hint: it isn’t a word and neither is irregardless)
Affect and Effect
Irony and Coincidence
Perhaps my favorite part of the article is Gingerich’s acknowledgement that grammar is an “ultra-micro component in the larger picture.” However, it is worth paying attention to the rules when your audience may demand such attention or when failure to fix may distract attention in unintended ways. How’s that for a mouthful?
This list has been floating around for years. Nonetheless, I thought I would share it since it popped up again in my reader this morning and it always gives me a chuckle. Sometimes, the best way to make a point is to “show, don’t tell” (was that a cliche?) so here goes nothing:
Twenty-six “Golden” Rules for Writing Well
- Don’t abbrev.
- Check to see if you any words out.
- Be carefully to use adjectives and adverbs correct.
- About sentence fragments.
- When dangling, don’t use participles.
- Don’t use no double negatives.
- Each pronoun agrees with their antecedent.
- Just between you and I, case is important.
- Join clauses good, like a conjunction should.
- Don’t use commas, that aren’t necessary.
- Its important to use apostrophe’s right.
- It’s better not to unnecessarily split an infinitive.
- Never leave a transitive verb just lay there without an object.
- Only Proper Nouns should be capitalized. also a sentence should begin with a capital letter and end with a full stop
- Use hyphens in compound-words, not just in any two-word phrase.
- In letters compositions reports and things like that we use commas to keep a string of items apart.
- Watch out for irregular verbs that have creeped into our language.
- Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
- Avoid unnecessary redundancy.
- A writer mustn’t shift your point of view.
- Don’t write a run-on sentence you’ve got to punctuate it.
- A preposition isn’t a good thing to end a sentence with.
- Avoid cliches like the plague.
- 1 final thing is to never start a sentence with a number.
- Always check your work for accuracy and completeness.
Hat tip to far too many people to list here.
If you practice in the Minnesota Bankruptcy Courts, you may want to pay some heed to Judge Robert Kressel’s rules of the road for proper Order writing. His PDF guide to writing Orders can be found here. Sure, there is a bit of common sense at play. Obviously Judge Kressel doesn’t believe in the concept “it goes without saying”, most likely due to his personal experience. Some practices to watch out for: proper use of articles; excessive capitalization; alternatives like “and/or” or (s) after singular nouns; banning the use of “undersigned”; making sure your nouns and verbs agree; proper use of “it’s” and “its”; and, making sure you actually ask for what you want. Seems simple enough in theory, but then there is that pesky practice …
Hat tip to Legal Writing Prof Blog.