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  1. Angus wrote on

    Good list!

    One additional comment though relevant to copywriters who work internationally) – treating collective nouns as plural in some contexts is much more common and widely accepted in British/Australian English than American (see http://is.gd/hCHZ )

    Also – “Purists don’t like sentences to finish with prepositions. I’m not quite sure why.” It’s a completely bogus rule invented by John Dryden in 1672 – see http://is.gd/hCKQ (Language Log is a great cure for prescriptivism!)

  2. Glenn (Owner) wrote on

    Cool! Thanks Angus. As usual, you’ve come through with the goods!

    A “metonymic shift”, hey?! I like it! Never heard of it before. And that Wikipedia definition you found is a nice one (http://is.gd/hCHZ). That’s going in Delicious!

    And whatdyaknow? You’ve delivered a double-bunger! I didn’t know that bit of trivia about Dryden (clearly). Another one for Delicious!

    Thanks again mate!

  3. Christy McCarthy wrote on

    I am so utterly bookmarking this page for future reference. I think my grammar’s fine most of the time, but sometimes I flip out and can’t spell the simplest things. (Writing this comment is even making me nervous!)

  4. Glenn Murray wrote on

    C’mon Christy! Where’s your Gravatar? Makes life a helluva lot easier. And we all get to see your beaming smile!

    Thanks for your nice comment. You on Delicious? Or what bookmarking tool are you using?

  5. Angie Haggstrom wrote on

    You’ve managed to make most of us chuckle, and hard-core English buffs cringe all in one post!

    If you were writing material for a group of English professors, you would have likely been burned at the stake by the end of the title.

    When I first started blogging, this subject tormented me for some time. My post felt clunky and out of place when I played by the rules. At the same time, I worried about how it might look to others since I write for a living.

    In the end, I decided if I wanted to feel approachable and real, I would leave them in. I’m happy, the reader is happy, and everyone wins. I’ve yet to regret the mistake.

    In my opinion, the rules you choose to break in combination with how you choose to do so makes up an important part of your blogging style. As a reader, I feel comfortable, at ease, and interested in reading what you have to say.

    If your post read like a history textbook, chances are I wouldn’t enjoy it half as much. Besides, you have to admit that breaking the rules ain’t no fun unless you know what they are to start with. (Not that I would know ;) )

    I believe a good writer is one who can adapt to the situation rather than one who has memorized the rules grammar. They should be able to connect with the reader in an informal way, but they should also be able to write formally in situations that require it. Master this, and the value of your work increases.

    Blogs are written for the reader, and not the grammar police! If that makes me a rebel, I’m happy to defend that title at any time.

    Bookmarked and Stumbled!

    Angie Haggstrom

  6. Glenn Murray wrote on

    Go Angie! I think you just wrote a guest-post!

    Agree with everything you said. And very eloquently put!

  7. Carl Crawley wrote on

    A very interesting blog post and one which made me wince at nearly every example :-)

    This is one of the very reasons why I am a reluctant blogger, whilst I consider my spelling to be pretty spot on, my grammar leaves a lot to be desired (I recall my secondary school English teacher telling me I was comma happy).

    Even now, I (like Christy) am nervous about posting this comment but, as Angie very eloquently put it – blogging is for the reader, not the grammar police!

    My only saving grace is that the kind of mistakes I would make are to the right of your diagram, so not as obvious.

    I am now more at ease about writing blog posts – the next problem is the subject matter!

  8. AmandaBC wrote on

    Just lately I’ve been noticing “bored of” appearing in newspapers and other formerly authoritative environments, and I’m surprised at the strength of my antipathy toward the phrase! Indeed, I’m quite bored *with* it.

    Re split infinitives, I was once told that you can’t split an infinitive in Latin (not sure whether it’s because it’s a single word or because separating the two bits changes the meaning), so hide-bound grammarians who came up through the British public-school system say you shouldn’t split an infinitive in English.

    That story might be apocryphal, though! ;)

  9. Ben McKay wrote on

    I’m definitely with Christy’s comment: “Writing this comment is even making me nervous!”

    …I think I have just learnt (the UK English version not Amercanised / Americanized ‘learned’!!) more from reading this than in all of my English lessons put together (sad, I know!)…a truly excellent resource and one certainly worth bookmarking!

    Thanks for the tips and tricks Mr Murray.

  10. Jim Malmberg wrote on

    You left “then” vs. “than” off your list. This one really bugs me and I know a lot of people who make this mistake.

  11. Glenn Murray wrote on

    Hi Amanda, Ben, Jim! Thanks for your comments.

    Ben: No need to be nervous! (Although Amanda’s now made me nervous with her “apocryphal” !!! ;-) ) Glad the post was helpful.

    Amanda: Hmmm. I’m just tryin’ to figure out what I use. Very tricky. Firstly ‘coz I have two young kids, and never enough time to be bored. And secondly ‘coz I think I usually use the construction, “XYZ is boring”. (How’s that for externalizing?!!!) I’ll have to keep a close eye on this one.

    Jim: Very good point. Definitely one that should have been on the list. It probably would have been better then then a couple of the above. Than again, maybe it wouldn’t. (Hahaha. Copywriter humour! I’m so funny! ;-) )

    Cheers.

  12. Brandee wrote on

    I am glad to see posts like this. I spend countless hours trying to convince “old school” clients that you can bend the rules sometimes, ESPECIALLY in “marketing prose”. When writing a paper for your Masters in English literature, perhaps not, when writing a website I don’t see any issue. As far as I am concerned, if people can make up words like “crumbelievable” and “cosmetology” I can start a sentance with “And” or “Because”

    I also spend countless hours rolling my eyes at the misuse of conjuncitons and words like “preventative” or “de-thawed” (isn’t that technically refreezing?). I am also starting a big movement on the proper use of the word “literally”. “I literally DIED when I saw that” is wrong on many levels. If you’re literally dead, how are you talking to me?

    Then there is always the “Too” vs. “To” issue. My dad taught me how to tell the difference when I was about 5, and I can’t figure out what that one is so difficult for people to grasp. Maybe they are TOO lazy.

    Thanks for a good post!!!!

  13. Glenn Murray wrote on

    Starting sentences with a conjunction. There’s a post in that alone. And I’m gonna write it!

  14. Paul wrote on

    I’m sure I make at least one of these mistakes daily.

  15. Sally wrote on

    Hi,

    This is great – grammar in a nutshell. In my school days grammar was taught implicitly rather than explicitly therefore it is someting that I have acquired rather than learned.

    As a copywriter too, I also write conversationally so completely agree that there is a lot you can get away with. After all, the English language is constantly evolving and it is a communication tool – something to be played with.

    BTW – ‘Sentences that end with a preposition – A preposition is a word that shows the relationship between to things (nouns). – shouldn’t that be ‘…that shows the relationship between two things’ :-)

    Great post.

  16. Glenn Murray wrote on

    Chuckle. Of course! In my defence, I’m putting that one down to a typo! :P

  17. Glenn (Owner) wrote on

    @sallyormond, it now says “two”. Thanks for picking that up. Just proves I need an editor! Much appreciated.

  18. Sally wrote on

    S’ok – I’m glad to see I’m not the only one that makes typos :-) Please be kind if you ever see any of mine!

  19. T Edwards wrote on

    This is a post every blogger should read. I’ve read some blogs that were so poorly written that I was embarrassed just reading them. A very good book that I have is “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk, Jr. It’s very short and breaks writing down to its basic, classic elements.

    T

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  21. Clare wrote on

    This post brought back memories of my final year English paper – the one with “This is not a sentence” written on it in big, bold red pen.

    Thanks Glenn, I always knew it was OK!!!

    Great reference post – bookmarked.

  22. Sue wrote on

    Excellent post!

    The “its” versus “it’s” has always been a source of confusion and frustration for me so I’m thrilled to have that finally resolved.

    And where do people say “different to”? I’m from the east coast and have never heard that expression before. (sorry – never before heard that expression :)

    I could totally join or start a crusade to get bloggers and internet marketers to extend the courtesy to us, their readers, of proofreading their work. Since entering into the internet marketing arena I have actually put feelers out about starting a proofreading service. As “they” say, having multiple streams of income is a good thing!

    Thanks so much for your insight. I’ll be back for more.

  23. Glenn (Owner) wrote on

    Heya Sue. Sorry to take so long replying to your comment. In answer to your “different to” question, it’s certainly very common here in Australia. I’ve noticed that Americans tend to favor “different than”.

  24. Joyce Jacobsen wrote on

    Loved the way you pointed out the many errors bloggers, copywriters, etc. make on their posts. To me they stand out like a sore thumb. One mistake a lot of writers make is using “a” instead of “an” before a word starting with a vowel.

    I also see many writers using “that” in their sentences several times when that could have been omitted.

    Great post and content – thanks for sharing.

    Cheers.

  25. Beariaovarp wrote on

    Excellent site http://www.divinewrite.com and I am really pleased to see you have what I am actually looking for here: this .. as it’s taken me literally 1 hours and 38 minutes of searching the web to find you (just kidding!) so I shall be pleased to become a regular visitor :)

  26. Glenn (Owner) wrote on

    Hi Beariaovarp. How’s it going? Thanks for your kind words. Look forward to seeing you here more often! Cheers.

  27. Simonn wrote on

    Keep working ,great job!

  28. rebecca wrote on

    I’m not a copy writer but a mother wanting to make sure my young childrens grammar is correct. Can you please confirm when you use i versus me: eg, who went to the shops today? daddy, sarah and I or daddy, sarah and me. Also do you ever put me first or is it always last if with others.
    thanks

  29. Glenn Murray wrote on

    Hi Rebecca. Thanks for your question. The first part is easier than you think. Just remove the other people from the sentence, and ask whether you’d say “I” or “me” without them there. e.g. “Daddy, Sarah and I/me went to the shops” – Remove Daddy & Sarah, and you’re left with either “I went to the shops” or “me went to the shops”. It’s clear which one’s right, then.

    As to whether you put the “I/me” last in the group: that’s what I’ve always been taught. But I think it’s more a matter of courtesy than grammar.

    Hope this helps.

    Cheers.

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  31. Copywriter wrote on

    Hi all,

    This is really a nice and true post. People often make these silly mistakes that make them little embarrass sometimes. This post will really help to lots of people.

    Thank you

  32. Schedule wrote on

    Maybe you could make changes to the blog name title Can I get away with it? 12 common grammatical errors YOUR probably making! to something more generic for your subject you create. I loved the blog post however.

  33. Copywriter wrote on

    It can be seen with many copywriters. They are the good copywriters and experts in their field and generate good content, but there are some grammatical mistakes in their content. They use some plural, gender and verb, adjectives error in their sentences. which give a bad impression to your content.

    I have read some blogs and articles that are written in poor language and feel embarrassed reading them. Good post given on this topic.

    Thanks for sharing it.

  34. Marlana Ciraco wrote on

    When i visit a blog, chances are that I see that the construction is poor and the writting bad. Regarding your blog,I have to say that you have done a good job here.

  35. Thomas Hack wrote on

    You have a wonderful blog here! would you like to make some invite posts on my blog?

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  38. Emily Read wrote on

    Great list!
    One thing I would add is beginning sentences with conjunctions – ‘and’ & ‘but’. I do it all the time.
    And I couldn’t believe it when I was told to cease this practice… in a year 12 Creative Writing class, of all places. I refrained from ever using ‘and’ or ‘but’ at the beginning of a sentence in all my essays at school and uni, but who places a restriction like that in a creative writing class?

    1. Glenn Murray wrote on

      Ah yes. I 100% agree. But I never actually thought of it as a mistake. It was just over-zealous English teachers who thought that. My understanding is it was never an actual rule of grammar, just a stuck-up preference…

      Nonetheless, it probably fits here. If only because most everyone else will think it’s a rule!

      Thanks for the suggestion, Emily. :-)

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