Archive for the ‘Grammar tips’ Category

How to avoid leaving your readers dangling

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Can you spot what’s wrong with this sentence?

Despite announcing record sales, Apple’s share price fell 10% yesterday.

It was the original opening line of a blog post I published the other week. The moment I pressed “publish” I realised, with horror, that the sentence would have Lynn Truss types fizzing with disgust. (more…)

The punctuation mistake you never knew you were making

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Here’s a grammar rule that’ll come as a big surprise to many of you: 95% of the time you shouldn’t put a comma before the word however.

Yep, you’ve been punctuating it wrong all these years. We know because we see this mistake all the time. In fact, it’s probably the most common error we see. (more…)

Punctuation: why do we need it anyway?

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

Today, I’m delighted to feature a guest post by fellow copywriter Sarah Turner. As you’ll see, she’s a definitely a woman after my own heart . . . (more…)

Why I hate the comma splice

Friday, June 12th, 2009

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. (more…)

Apostrophe rule: 100s or 100’s?

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

This addendum to my previous blog entry on apostrophes is dedicated to the graphic designer friend of mine who recently posted a cry for help on Facebook, asking which was correct: 100’s or 100s.

Naturally, her writer friends told her to ditch the apostrophe, which she did. Sorry to distress any literate people out there, but I have to inform you that she has since revealed that she was told to put them all back in. (more…)

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

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

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 can’t blame people for not knowing how to punctuate if they’ve never been taught how to do it. (I tend to agree with the journalism teacher who once told me she could tell a student’s age from their punctuation. Few people under forty have a clue, because they had the misfortune to go to school after it was decided that grammar was too elitist to teach).

But if you care about your business you need to know that you will be judged if you get it wrong. (more…)

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

Monday, May 11th, 2009

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”. (more…)

What’s with this word “into”?

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

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 ignorance.

So why is it that when it comes to the English language many business folk seem to think that getting it wrong makes them sound impressive? (more…)

St Thomas’ Hospital or St Thomas’s Hospital?

Monday, February 9th, 2009

In the comments to a previous post, reader katypea asks the following:

“St. Thomas’ Hospital” (as per the directional signage around Waterloo) or “St. Thomas’s Hospital” (as per my sheer editorial common sense). Please tell me i won the arguement with The Boyfriend last night…?

It’s an apostrophe question many people struggle with, so I thought my answer warranted a post of its own. (more…)

A good reason not to pay your Council Tax

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Thanks to reader Blake Evans for alerting me to this story about Birmingham City Council banning the apostrophe in its road signs.

A tad worrying that the head of the city’s transport scrutiny committee, Councillor Martin Mullaney, seems to think that a basic grasp of the apostrophe is an advanced level skill.

Don’t know what the schools are like in Birmingham, Martin, but I had mastered it before the age of ten.