Writing Topics: Grammar

Just because …

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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 […]

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Why bother with grammar?

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“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 […]

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Are your assets a resource or are your resources an asset?

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Diamonds are in the news at the moment, so we thought we’d draw attention to the Company profile of Gem Diamonds. From their website: “Gem Diamonds is a global diamond company that has been pursuing a long term growth strategy through targeted acquisitions and the development of existing assets. Under current market conditions, the Group […]

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Don’t shun the dictionary!

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You might think this one is obvious, but you’d be surprised how reluctant some people are to use a dictionary. Don’t expect your spellchecker to tell you the difference between “effect” and “affect” and where and when you should use one or the other. You should never assume you know what an unfamiliar word means, […]

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Tautology

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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, […]

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Why I hate the comma splice

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[This entry originally appeared on Clare Lynch’s blog, goodcopybadcopy] There’s a nasty little punctuation habit that instantly gives your age away. It’s called the comma splice, and I’ve noticed it’s mostly used by writers under the age of 35.

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Grammar brush-up: Rules for indicating possession with an apostrophe

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[This entry originally appeared on Clare Lynch’s blog, goodcopybadcopy] Having worked with more than my share of tiresome subs who clearly quite enjoy getting their knickers in a twist about other people’s apostrophe crimes, I don’t want to get too snarky about the rights and wrongs of this important little punctuation mark. After all, you […]

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What’s with this word “into”?

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[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 […]

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Possibly the most embarrassing apostrophe crime ever

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[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.

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

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[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”:

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