40 grammar rules and how to break them

This is not exactly new, but it is worth adding here. The sentence that explains the rule manages to break the same rule. Clever?

business english success

  1. Verbs HAS to agree with their subjects.
  1. Prepositions are not to be used for ending sentences with.
  1. And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction.
  1. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
  1. Avoid clichés like the plague. (They’re old hat.)
  1. Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.
  1. Be more or less specific.
  1. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary.
  1. Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies endlessly over and over again
  1. No sentence fragments.
  1. Contractions aren’t always necessary and shouldn’t be used to excess so don’t.
  1. Foreign words and phrases are not always apropos.
  1. Do not be redundant; do not use more words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous and can be excessive
  1. All generalizations are bad.
  1. Comparisons are as bad as clichés.
  1. Don’t use no double negatives.
  1. Avoid excessive use of ampersands & abbrevs., etc.
  1. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
  1. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake (Unless they are as good as gold).
  1. The passive voice is to be ignored.
  1. Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary. Parenthetical words, however, should be enclosed in commas.
  1. Never use a big word when substituting a diminutive one would suffice.
  1. Don’t overuse exclamation points!!!
  1. Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
  1. Understatement is always the absolute best way to put forth earth-shaking ideas
  1. Use the apostrophe in it’s proper place and omit it when its not needed and use it correctly with words’ that show possession.
  1. Don’t use too many quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “I hate quotations.. Tell me what you know.”
  1. If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a billion times: Resist hyperbole; not one writer in a million can use it correctly. Besides, hyperbole is always overdone, anyway.
  1. Puns are for children, not groan readers.
  1. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
  1. Even IF a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
  1. Who needs rhetorical questions? However, what if there were no rhetorical questions?
  1. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
  1. Avoid “buzz-words”; such integrated transitional scenarios complicate simplistic matters
  1. People don’t spell “a lot” correctly alot of the time.
  1. Each person should use their possessive pronouns correctly
  1. All grammar and spelling rules have exceptions (with a few exceptions)….Morgan’s Law.
  1. Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.
  1. The dash – a sometimes useful punctuation mark – can often be overused – even though it’s a helpful tool some of the time.
  1. Proofread carefully to make sure you don’t repeat repeat any words.

4 Comments

  1. This was too cute!

    I do wonder if you would share your opinion on two rules that have sparked up some controversy in recent conversations between a few of my friends after a recent peer review of papers for my dental hygiene schooling. Having an English professional’s opinion may help clear the air, haha.

    The first rule: Number two is the rule I was taught in grade school and all the way up until high school. Never end a sentence with a preposition. However, a lot of sources say that the rule is more associated with Latin grammar, and it is not suited for modern English usage. Then there’s always the famous Winston Churchill quote; “That is the sort of thing up with which I will not put!” I usually do my best to follow the rule, but if it ends up making a sentence confusing, I’ll just keep the preposition at the end and move on. 😉 What are your thoughts?

    The second rule: Number three is a rule that I’ve been told many times is actually more of a preference, rather than rule. I’ve been going by the preference version of the rule, mainly because starting sentences with conjunctions can help create a dramatic or forceful effect. But they should definitely be used sparingly. 😉 What do you think?

    Thanks for lending your opinion!

    • Hi Liz,
      Thanks for your comment – I’ll do my best to answer your questions.
      1. I think that as a rule, it is still valid. However, language is a constantly evolving thing. For example, if everyone were to say “I didn’t done it”, would it still be wrong? My personal opinion is that language is there to facilitate communication and if your communication sounds more like Yoda, maybe it’s time to tone down the grammatic pedantry. I do think it’s perfectly valid in a question (“who do you want to go with?”, as opposed to “with whom do you want to go?”) – the latter sounds just too formal and stiff. Btw, there is considerable doubt that the quote really is from Churchill.
      2. I often start a sentence with ‘but’, if only to avoid a long run-on sentence. Readability is the word of the moment, especially online. I think that logically, words like ‘and’ are meant to join two parts, so starting with it doesn’t make sense, as you’re missing the first part.
      Thanks again for your great input.

  2. “And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction.” That’s a good one! :-). It reminded me a nice line from the Big Bang Theory TV series:

    Kim: “You have tendency to end sentence with prepositions.”
    Leonard: “What are you talking about?”

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