12 Responses

  1. Armen
    Armen Published |

    Hey Justin! I really enjoy reading practical tips on writing. I’ve come to recognise how valuable it is to be able to communicate well. I have lots to learn, but when I read over some of my old posts, I’m able to see how far I’ve come in the past year.

    In regards to your post, I must confess, I get really annoyed when I read, “I wrote a blog yesterday about…” It’s a pet annoyance, I guess.

    On the word ‘believe’, are you right when you say, “It’s also one of those times when the “i comes before e,” which is a rarity in the English language.”
    Isn’t ‘i’ before ‘e’ more common than vise versa?

    Reply
  2. Justin
    Justin Published |

    Armen
    You should see my archives of the last few years. It’s a little embarrassing.

    Using “blog” incorrectly is the most annoying thing I can think of that bloggers do.

    The “I before E” would seem like it is more common, but I’m not so sure. There are actually too many exceptions to this rule for it to be considered a rule. I just ran a quick search to find some kind of resource on this and found The I Before E Deceit Unveiled. There’s a neat story on the page with many examples of “exceptions” to the rule.

    Other articles:

    I before E
    Language Log: Mrs. Olsen gets a D
    Wikipedia article

    The British version (see Wikipedia article) of “I before E” works much better than the versions I’ve heard growing up.

    When I used the word “rarity,” I was making a bit of a joke because there are too many exceptions.

    Reply
  3. Iva
    Iva Published |

    Justin, thank you so much! I like to see that people care about this, since some rather “famous” bloggers make all these mistakes and e.g. repeatedly spell let’s as “lets”.

    As a non-native speaker, I appreciate this even more:)

    Reply
  4. Justin
    Justin Published |

    Iva
    I hate to see “lets” in place of “let’s.” That’s bad grammar.

    Also, look at the excerpt from Bartelby.com I posted. They didn’t capitalize “Web.” This is another little-known bit of information.

    I don’t want to come off as a “grammar Nazi” in these tutorials, but I want to try to teach bloggers to write more effectively. Strong, concise language attracts readers, even the ones that don’t follow any grammatical rules themselves.

    Blogging can be detrimental to our language skills because most of us try to write in a casual style that attracts readers. Sometimes, we need to sharpen our skills a little.

    Reply
  5. Armen
    Armen Published |

    Justin, that first article you linked to is excellent, (and quite funny too).

    So the ‘i’ before ‘e’ rule, is actually a counterfeit. It’s weird how society can develop ancient rules to language, which are deficient of any weighty proof! ;)

    Reply
  6. Nick
    Nick Published |

    you should do a post on comma slices in C, they are my major weakness as a writer. I probably just made one there. I have become so self-conscious about this that I always question myself when placing a comma, which in turn leads to me going against my instincts, thus forcing me into more mistakes. The good thing is that most people don’t know the rules so I seldomly get caught on my site. Wait, I never get caught on my site. Still, I want to be grammatically correct.

    Reply
  7. Emperor
    Emperor Published |

    Hi Justin

    Here’s the thing.

    I was always taught that you can’t have a comer before “,and” or “,but”. I saw you did just that and was wondering id that is correct.

    Reply
  8. Mike
    Mike Published |

    Emperor:

    A ‘comma’–not ‘comer’–is required when “and” or “but” separate clauses which could exist as independent sentences.

    Reply
  9. Justin
    Justin Published |

    Mike
    Thanks for posting. Emperor, Mike is correct. You must add the comma if it separates two independent clauses.

    If the two clauses can stand alone as separate sentences, you need the comma. There are other uses for the comma in slightly different ways that I’m sure I’ll write about.

    Reply
  10. eliZZZa
    eliZZZa Published |

    I believe Britney Spears is the dumbest person ever. (Less effective)
    Britney Spears is the dumbest person ever. (Effective)

    While I really should not burn my fingers with philosophing about English language, I see a big difference between those two examples.
    While the first sentence is your personal opinion, which you are free to postulate, the latter is a personal insult, which you could be sued for (at least so according to Austrian law).
    True?

    Reply
  11. Justin
    Justin Published |

    eliZZZa
    Austrian law sounds rough. :) There is a big difference between the two though — one is a stronger statement. However, both are an insult and an opinion. You can’t be sued for this in the States.

    I probably shouldn’t say “can’t” because some people sue others for a lot worse. Also, public officials and public figures don’t have the same “rights” when it comes to what’s printed or said about them in America.

    The example wasn’t about being able to say what you want about others though. It was about how to make your language stronger. Removing “I believe” or “I think” doesn’t change your statement so much in terms of meaning but in terms of effectiveness.

    Reply
  12. Heather
    Heather Published |

    I believe you should check out my blog when you have a sec because you’ve been tagged! (Sorry.)

    Reply

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