Writing Tips: Grammar

susannah ross writing consultant

Wogan’s words

Share  

Tributes to the much-loved broadcaster, Terry Wogan, speak of his ability to communicate with millions as if they were his friends. Many also mention his skilful use of the English language. When the BBC was taken to task some years ago for failing to police its presenters’ and reporters’ use of English, the campaigners made […]

Continue reading »

Google’s new Terms of Service

Share  

Google have had a lot of flak from privacy campaigners and even the EU for their new Terms of Service, which came into effect on 1 March. More interesting for Clarity is that they’ve made a big effort to use simple language and avoid legalese. They’ve also included links to explain technical terms in plain […]

Continue reading »

Just because …

Share  

I recently received an email asking if it was ever OK to begin a sentence with the word “because”. It’s definitely one of those words, like “and”, that people are reluctant to use at the start of sentences following years of tellings-off from dogmatic grammar teachers. The emailer also asked if, having decided that you […]

Continue reading »

Why bother with grammar?

Share  

“Why can’t we let people write the way they want to?” someone challenged me in a training session last week. Like many others, he had never been taught grammar at school and didn’t see why he should start now. And he cited his heroes – Jack Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson, William Burroughs – as examples […]

Continue reading »

Tautology

Share  

Tautology is the habit of saying the same thing more than once in slightly different ways. “Free gift” is a good example as a gift is something you don’t pay for. Breedon on the Hill in Leicestershire is more extreme as it literally means “Hill-hill on the Hill”. We all know that repetition creates emphasis, but repeated repetition, […]

Continue reading »

“Around”: the preposition that can make your writing sound slippery and bureaucratic

Share  

[This entry originally appeared on Clare Lynch’s blog, goodcopybadcopy] Last week I reflected on the tendency for business types to favour the invasive-sounding “into” over the correct “to”. Today, I turn my attention to another preposition you should be careful with: “around”.

Continue reading »

What’s with this word “into”?

Share  

[This entry originally appeared on Clare Lynch’s blog, goodcopybadcopy] If I were to go round claiming that the square root of 100 is 15 or that the Battle of Hastings took place in 1783, I’d quite rightly be thought a fool. What’s more, I’m fairly sure most people wouldn’t hesitate to inform me of my […]

Continue reading »

The rules you follow that make smart people think less of you

Share  

[This entry originally appeared on Clare Lynch’s blog, goodcopybadcopy] A new post over at the Daily Writing Tips blog discusses the contentious issue of paragraph length (gosh, we writers really are a sad bunch). You know, that old rule drilled into us at school about never, ever, writing a paragraph that’s less than three sentences […]

Continue reading »

Possibly the most embarrassing apostrophe crime ever

Share  

[This entry originally appeared on Clare Lynch’s blog, goodcopybadcopy] Note to the The National Literacy Trust: when you’re bewailing the poor grammar and punctuation skills of the UK population, do try and get it right.

Continue reading »

What happens when you don’t bother to get a writer in

Share  

[This entry originally appeared on Clare Lynch’s blog, goodcopybadcopy] This, from a full-page ad for Hill & Knowlton, who describe themselves as “a leading international communications consultancy”. I spotted it in the “Thought Leader Series” supplement, which came with a recent issue of “PR Week”:

Continue reading »