Tricky, tricky spelling quiz: can you crack it?

I can’t afford to offer a trip for two to Las Vegas as a prize, but this quiz could keep you busy during quiet moments in the next few days. Answers at the bottom. (No cheating – look later!)

spelling mistakes

What do you feel are the most common wrongly spelled words in English?

And what really is infuriating is the way that simple spelling mistakes tend to creep in only because our own ‘word blindness’ – especially when we are writing extensively for business or other occupations – is largely to blame for our errors.

(That, and the fact that the English language has fewer rules to help us than a dog has when choosing which tree to pee on.)

Never mind: let’s have a laugh with the following:

Find the spelling mistake (or two, or none!) in the following:

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Grammar: do you write ESTs when they should be ERs?

It’s not exactly the end of the world, but did you know if you only have two children you don’t have an ‘oldest’ or ‘eldest?’

writing tips
(Or a ‘youngest,’ for that matter.) Everyone today seems to forget that the suffix ‘est’ should only be used when writing/talking about more than two items, people, etc. If it’s just two, the suffix is ‘er.’ And by the way…

‘Elder-eldest’ or ‘older-oldest?’
According to Merriam Webster, ‘elder’ and ‘eldest’ are only
used to refer to persons, whereas ‘older’ and ‘oldest’ are
used to refer to both persons and things.
More on the
detail of that here if you’re interested! [Read more…]

54 grammar fumblerules to make you grin

Although we’ve looked at funny grammar rules before, here is an even more comprehensive list to give you some smiles!. Enjoy (and learn, of course…)

grammar article

I wonder how much grammar rules have changed since 1558– ?

Fumblerule? Whassat, Wikipedia?

To quote the Wikipedia oracle:

fumblerule is a rule of language or linguistic style, humorously written in such a way that it breaks this rule.[1] Fumblerules are a form of self-reference.
The science editor George L. Trigg published a list of such rules in 1979.[2] The term fumblerules was coined in a list of such rules compiled by William Safire on Sunday, 4 November 1979,[3][4] in his column “On Language” in the New York Times. Safire later authored a book titled Fumblerules: A Lighthearted Guide to Grammar and Good Usage, which was reprinted in 2005 as How Not to Write: The Essential Misrules of Grammar.

I love them already–

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Why you need to know the difference between writing errors & writing mistakes

Most old-fashioned editors (hereafter known as OFEs**) and all my happy clients know that when it comes to “sticking to the rules” of writing I am an anarchist.

mistakes in writing

The fact that information crosses approximately 3,400 miles of Atlantic Ocean in less time than it takes you to sneeze does rather make a mockery of trying to preserve the good olde days of British English. British, American, Australian? They’re all OK.

Please note, however, that I’m not particularly anarchic in any other ways. I never burned my bra for Women’s Lib (although I was too young to need one then) and I didn’t even go to the anti-Trump protests in London in 2018 but only because there was no-one available to let my dogs out for wee-wees.

Grammar, spelling, punctuation: do you control them or do they control you?

This question has been bothering me for a long time over issues like the Oxford comma and whether you use a capital letter after a colon or not. Short answer? Issues like that do not matter worth a pinch of coonsh*t, as my dear old Canadian dad used to say. [Read more…]

Punctuation: praise it or punch it on the nose?

Are you a slave to proper punctuation? Or is punctuation a slave to you?

Being a pro writer and author and all that, I have given dozens (literally) of traditional editors self-induced alopaecia after reading my book manuscripts. Why? Because I don’t stick to punctuation rules.

Article on punctuation

Punctuation rules: should they be relaxed? Now there’s a puzzle

Being a North American, too, I use punctuation that spans the Atlantic giving the grammar police on both shores the desire to stab me with a red pencil.

And you know what? I don’t care.

Don’t forget that I am a former copywriter, and copywriters are notorious for flipping the bird at conventional grammar, punctuation and even syntax sometimes in order to create an effect.

Ridiculously bad punctuation: not what we’re talking about

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Stamping out essay writing cheats for students: some hope at last

Some of you may have noticed that I have been ranting for some time about essay (plus thesis, dissertation etc.) writing offered online so students can pay someone else to write their work – cheating.

Hellping university students to cheat

Essay mills to help students cheat: approx 250 million on Google alone

Finally here in the UK someone has taken notice of this easy rip-off for cheating students and is hoping to do something about it. To quote the BBC news website’s headline:

PayPal urged to block essay firm cheats

Will shaking a stick at PayPal deliver any real results? Not in isolation, no. But with luck, it’s a start. [Read more…]

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