Saturday 10 September 2011

Rosemary and time

"What will it be?" they ask. "There's rosemary, that's for remembrance. Perhaps he's about to witter on about healing all wounds, or wounding all heels." If I give you a farther clue and ask you to bare with me you'll probably get it - common English errors - a catalogue of them I've recently put together.

Before we go any further I will say that the Queen's English isn't mine, not on a blog anyway. Blog English is more relaxed, sentence construction is a little looser, you can get away with dangling participles and boobs of that ilk. You might want to avoid words like boobs though, unless you think your audience will take it the way it's meant. I once, on a teacher training course, asked a class of thirteen year old girls if anyone had a rubber. Not a mistake I'll ever make again!

Along with that looseness though is a need not to make silly mistakes. Confusing your its with it's and your theres and theirs really does make you look sloppy. Everybody has access to spellcheckers and grammar checkers (why is the latter two words and the former one?) - the immediacy of blog publishing should be tempered with basic checking.

Correctness becomes even more important with the degree of need or desire to be taken seriously, to be treated as an authority on your subject. This blog aims mainly to persuade you that my opinion of others' writing is correct. What chance of success would I have if I made basic error after basic error? None - you'd be off and reading a different blog after half a post. Similarly, if yours is a business blog you have even less room for manoeuver (yes, I checked that last word carefully). I've seen sites representing web designers that are littered with wrong words and grammatical errors - would you want your site to be put together by that sort of company?

So then, from observation and a lifetime cringing at what some people do to the English language, I've compiled a handy reference guide, including notes on English versus US usage:

Common English Errors ››

Due to popular demand (really) I've added sections on such exciting topics as use of the comma. I may even talk about dangling participles one day - nah, probably not. Nip on over and leave a comment - especially if you think there's something I should have covered. Facebook Like it, Tweet it, print it on t-shirts: the world needs a few less common mistakes.


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