A Plea To Online Grammar Butchers

    October 26, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

This is a plea for the Language, pruned for the Internet, whittled down to bite-sized chunks, as naked as a tree in winter without the punctuation, spelling, or grammar required for, when the season’s full, expressing its own majesty. Instant messaging. andemail. done skrood it all up

I am not the first, nor will I be the last, to sing my lamentations to this so-called “blogosphere,” mourning the apathy with which this new, democratic, hope-filled and cathartic, electrified deluge of newborn writers go about the craft of writing.

Why Webmasters and professional bloggers should keep reading:

If your blog or website is one of several possible windows into your company, and the copy doesn’t exhibit some grasp of the three pillars – good punctuation, correct spelling, and proper grammar – what does that say about you to a potential, and unfamiliar, client?

It doesn’t say you’re E. E. Cummings (or e e cummings as is often mistaken).

in Just-
spring when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame baloonman

whistles far and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it’s

when the world is puddle-wonderful

(formatting issues above. click here for it’s supposed to look)

Cummings is cool when he does it. When you do it, it just looks unprofessional – kind of like when you do the John Travolta “Saturday Night Fever” dance. But nobody’s perfect.

Without too much further preaching, let’s cover some basics so your online first impression is a good one.


Punctuation is very. important it tellsyouwhere to stop and where to go and keeps yourprose from looking like a jumbled runon (that should be hyphenated) mess of words that you say is just like William Faulkner with his, 142 word (so should that) sentences but its (that should have an apostrophe) not just like him; afterall.

We shot the serif fonts online to make reading faster; taking away punctuation destroys the flow. See nostrich.net for more impassioned defense of punctuation.


Grammar is like math. It’s made of memorization and logic. It is okay, on occasion, to break the more nit-picky grammar rules if usage is tremendously common, or if the correct version is too awkward. Ending a sentence with a preposition is okay. It makes the reader/listener feel you’re a good person to talk to.

But one mistake that drives most grammarians up wall (aside from beginning a new paragraph with a conjunction) is overcorrecting. Watch a newscaster, or scripted character, and note how many times they use a phrase like “between you and I.” They’re trying to be proper and screw it up because they don’t know the rule.

The rule is: prepositions always have an object. If it’s an object of the sentence and preposition then it can’t be a subject. “I” is a subject. “Me” is the object. It should read “just between you and me.”

“Lay” and “lie” are tricky. Things that move lay themselves down by lying down. They often lay down their bags before they lie down.


It’s “could have,” would have,” and “should have.” Never is it “could of.”

“Then” is what happened next. “Than” goes with “less” and “more.”

Latin is hard, especially when abbreviated. “e.g.” is an example. “i.e.” puts it in other words. “Et cetera” is shortened to “etc.”

Periods and commas go inside the quotes.

There are fewer glasses of water, but there is less water. Never is there fewer water or less glasses of water.

The word “farther” denotes distance. “Further” is a matter of degree. The house is farther down the road. Let’s discuss this further.

Other grammar sources.

Spelling, Homophone Edition

Homophones (words that sound alike, but are spelled differently) give writers fits, especially when trying to write quickly. There are the obvious ones (their, they’re, there), the grammatical ones (its and it’s), and then there are the trickier ones.

Accept, except – one is to receive, the other is to exclude

Ad, add – one is an advertisement, the other is plus one

Affect, effect – one is a verb, the other is the result

Axle, axil – one is on a car, the other is on a plant

Capitol, capital – one is to seat the government, the other is to buy it with

Chile, chili, chilly – a country, a soup, a chill

Close, clothes – one shuts, the other covers

Compliment, complement – one is nice to say, the other looks good on you

Holey, holy, wholly – one has holes, one is pure, the other is entire

Hostel, hostile – one is a place to stay, the other says “get out”

Lead, lede – one is go ahead, the other is the first line of an article

Loose, lose – one is not attached, the other is lost

Pole, poll – one is a bar or Polish person, the other is a survey

Pore, pour, poor – a hole, a spill, and an empty pocket

Wales, whales – an area of Great Britain, and big fish-like mammals

Here are a couple more lists of homophones and commonly misspelled words.


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