Muphry’s Law: In the course of correcting someone else’s English, you will make a mistake yourself.
A fitting first post for a blog about writing and grammar…
Some of you may have noticed that the sentence above is not a sentence. It is a fragment. You may have had Microsoft Word underline these and shout at you before. [You know, when it’s not insisting that ‘staff’ must be singular (e.g. Our staff is not happy.); I suspect the developers must have been mad fantasy fans, all wizards and ‘You shall not pass’… Staff? Plural? Like the uncountable noun that describes people that work in an organisation? Nonsense! The singular usage referring to an oversized walking stick is much more common.]
Hang on, what did I just do with that punctuation above? There were brackets within brackets and a semi colon for Muphry’s sake. Was that an editorial interpolation or does this guy have some kind of prank keystroke generator plugged in to the back of his computer?
Given enough time, these tangents will converge, I assure you…
Stand back, I’m about to boldly split an infinitive. Wait, I just did.
Some content in this blog is likely to contradict some ideas you hold about English grammar; things you hold to be true; things your high-school English teacher beat (figuratively, I hope…) into you.
Language, words and grammar, and how we process it in our brain intrigues me. I’m going to try and share some of that wonder with you. There’s a reasonable chance that some infelicities will slip in. This is Muphry’s Law.
This site is not about prescriptivists shouting at you that you’ve ended a sentence with a preposition, or started a sentence with ‘because’.
Because, that’s complete crap.
Language is about communication. Punctuation, and grammar generally, is about removing ambiguity.