Peoples Geography — Reclaiming space

Creating people's geographies

Rules of grammar

Calling all writers, readers and grammarians. Curt at CSTF features a great A Few Good Resources for Writers post, commenting on his favorite styles of writing and drawing upon Strunk and Orwell’s classic expositions on the topic—check it out. In poking around on my desktop to post some humorous Rules of Grammar to Curt, I discovered to my surprise that I hadn’t already posted them here previously as I thought I had, so here they are:


1. Verbs HAS to agree with their subjects.

2. Never use a preposition to end a sentence with. Winston Churchill, corrected on this error once, responded to the young man who corrected him by saying “Young man, that is the kind of impudence up with which I will not put!

3. And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction.

4. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.

5. Avoid cliches like the plague. (They’re old hat.)

6. Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.

7. Be more or less specific.

8. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary.

9. Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies endlessly over and over again

10. No sentence fragments.

11. Contractions aren’t always necessary and shouldn’t be used to excess so don’t.

12. Foreign words and phrases are not always apropos.

13. Do not be redundant; do not use more words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous and can be excessive

14. All generalizations are bad.

15. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.

16. Don’t use no double negatives.

17. Avoid excessive use of ampersands & abbrevs., etc.

18. One-word sentences? Eliminate.

19. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake (Unless they are as good as gold).

20. The passive voice is to be ignored.

21. Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary. Parenthetical words, however, should be enclosed in commas.

22. Never use a big word when substituting a diminutive one would suffice.

23. Don’t overuse exclamation points!!!

24. Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.

25. Understatement is always the absolute best way to put forth earth-shaking ideas

26. Use the apostrophe in it’s proper place and omit it when its not needed and use it correctly with words’ that show possession.

27. Don’t use too many quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “I hate quotations.. Tell me what you know.”

28. If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a billion times: Resist hyperbole; not one writer in a million can use it correctly. Besides, hyperbole is always overdone, anyway.

29. Puns are for children, not groan readers.

30. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.

31. Even IF a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.

32. Who needs rhetorical questions? However, what if there were no rhetorical questions?

33. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.

34. Avoid “buzz-words”; such integrated transitional scenarios complicate simplistic matters

35. People don’t spell “a lot” correctly alot of the time.

36. Each person should use their possessive pronouns correctly

37. All grammar and spelling rules have exceptions (with a few exceptions)….Morgan’s Law.

38. Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.

39. The dash – a sometimes useful punctuation mark – can often be overused – even though it’s a helpful tool some of the time.

40. Proofread carefully to make sure you don’t repeat repeat any words.

41. In writing, it’s important to remember that dangling sentences.

Some of the above rules were originally part of or based on work by William Safire in his book Fumble-Rules.

7 comments on “Rules of grammar

  1. opit
    23 March, 2007

    All your serious work and I quip when you’ve posted something trivial. There ain’t no justice !

  2. Servant
    23 March, 2007


  3. peoplesgeography
    23 March, 2007

    Good to see you, opit. I can understand being more inclined to comment on the light-hearted stuff. I know the heavier stuff is being read, that its just often harder to readily proffer comments on.

    I endeavour, and will continue to endeavour, to intersperse some lighter stuff to make the heavy, serious pieces more digestible. Refreshing our reading palates and varying our reading consumption is indeed important.

  4. Servant
    23 March, 2007

    I thought I already said that. What does :D mean in your country?

    My fellow Merkans may not appreciate the role of the digestif or the aparitif or courses in history. Pardon my French. Belch.

    May I yammer a bit for the sake of the younguns? Someday they may rise above posterity and they’ll need something to spread on their lunch meat. Before McDonalds made the world cheap and efficient and tasteless, your better restaurants used to serve meticulously prepared courses designed to facilitate the enjoyment of life vis-a-vis conversation – an antiquated form of communication which existed before the advent of the Internet and the bump and grind. Restauranteurs would listen carefully and discretely for natural breaks in the conversations of their valued customers and, then, when an opportunity presented itself in the natural flow of conversation, they would back the dump truck up to the table and unload huge quantities of hamburgers and french fries just like here in America. And in exchange for this attention to detail which facilitated the all too brief respite from “civilization” the guests would leave a huge pile of cash which was known as the “gratuity” – which means thank you in one of them thar furrin languages. Belch. Here in America we call it the “tip.” We prefer the monosyllabic chop to the more euphonius appelations because we’re always in a hurry and syllables take time and time is money. Why use up all them words when a grunt will express your feeling for your fellow humans just as well?

    Thank you for the rich and varied fare, my dear friend Ann. And thank you, too, for waking up the curmudgeon in me. As you say, there aren’t a lot of opportunities to pick up the conversation from the rubble after one of your bombing runs. Sometimes I get a hankerin to say “you missed a spot” or run the white glove over your un-American spelluns, but I know better.

  5. peoplesgeography
    23 March, 2007

    Too funny. You are such an intelligent humourist, I mean humorist in ‘Merkin spelling. Well, sometimes I do consciously spell in ‘Merkin and insert the zed (you call it a ‘zee’) instead of the s, and delete the ‘u’ in words like favourite in affectionate deference, and sometimes I just prefer the way I was raised to spell. So I synthesise (synthesize) the two spellings.

    X O

  6. Servant
    24 March, 2007

    I was quite an ice breaker at the parties in my day. But hardly anyone hires clowns these days. Boom tish!

  7. peoplesgeography
    24 March, 2007

    Philosopher-clowns are my kind of people. There’ll always be a place for Mr S.S at any party I have. He’ll be writing ‘Kilroy was here’ under my dinner table, no doubt ;)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on 23 March, 2007 by in Blogosphere, Gender, Grammar, Humor, Humour, Language.

Timely Reminders

"Those who crusade, not for God in themselves, but against the devil in others, never succeed in making the world better, but leave it either as it was, or sometimes perceptibly worse than what it was, before the crusade began. By thinking primarily of evil we tend, however excellent our intentions, to create occasions for evil to manifest itself."
-- Aldous Huxley

"The only war that matters is the war against the imagination. All others are subsumed by it."
-- Diane DiPrima, "Rant", from Pieces of a Song.

"It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there"
-- William Carlos Williams, "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower"