Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Speling and gramer

There aren't that many spelling mistakes in these postings. Oh, sometimes one will slip through. Though the spell checker is religiously run, every now and then i just skip going to church altogether. That happens, for example, when proof reading. This is done at the keyboard, and any corrections are made right away. Sometimes i think that, Oh, its only one sentence - it is unlikely that there are any mistakes, and so church is skipped.

Mistakes are still made. The contraction for it is is irregular. Does it have an apostrophe or not? Then, the spelling checker knows that both form and from are words. So, this very common typo slips through the automatic, but very stupid, checker. A grammar checker might catch it, but i've not seen one yet that is worth my time. They complain about all sorts of things that are exactly what i intended.

Then, there's style. Perhaps you've noticed the lower case first person singular pronoun. I try to consistently use upper case if it starts a sentence, whereas i use lower case if it isn't at that position.

Though i proof read my stuff, it usually happens just after i've written it. That means that while i'm reading it, i still remember it well enough to succumb to the temptation of reading what i expect to read, rather than what is really there. My next day proof reading is significantly better. Really, i should have someone else proof read my stuff, while i proof read theirs. That would also teach us both the rules of grammar and spelling that the other knows. Any takers? It could be done by email. There is a little, tiny email link at the very bottom of this page. Go ahead.

So why do i do it? Why bother? This isn't a paid assignment. This is just me rambling into the ether. There may not even be an audience. No one may be reading this at all. In the event that someone is reading it, i don't want to sound completely stupid. I want the reader to work harder to determine that i'm a complete idiot. Its pretty much that simple. Its style - like the goofy thing with the first person singular pronoun.

Some things to check: Remember to never split an infinitive. The passive voice should never be used. Do not put statements in the negative form. Verbs have to agree with their subjects. Proofread carefully to see if you words out. If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing. A writer must not shift your point of view. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction. (Remember, too, a preposition is a terrible word to end a sentence with.) Don't overuse exclamation marks!! Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents. Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is. Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky. Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing. Always pick on the correct idiom. The adverb always follows the verb. Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague; seek viable alternatives. Thanks to William Safire.

1 comment:

FreeThinker said...

And don't put the emPHASIS on the wrong syllABLE.