How good is your English? Check these

Rules for writer’s

and find the mistakes.

You will find between one and four errors in each ‘rule’!


1. Always check your speling carefully.

2. Your a careful writer! Check to see if you any words out of a sentence.

3. Always punctuate, appropriately taking special care in the use of commas

4. Avoid tautology, that is, repetitive unnecessary and redundant words surplus to requirements.

5. Make sure that you had noun/verb agreement so that all tenses is correct.

6. When your writing, its vital to use apostrophes’ correctly.

7. There is a distinct risk that if you let your sentences ramble on through many sub-clauses and parentheses (necessary, as these may be to qualify what you want to say) you may make your readers forget — in their effort to grasp the drift of the sentence — what it was you began your sentence by saying.

8. Never abbrev.

9. Basically, you should look to express yourself clearly, hopefully avoiding clichés and jargon, as far as meaningful discourse.

10. Avoid mixed metaphors, so that your readers do not go off the rails and lose sight of the goal posts while taking a leap in the dark into a Pandora’s box of red herrings.

11. If your brain comes up with an ambiguous sentence, get rid of it and replace it with a better one.

12. Having eventually discovered how to put words together, the sentence should not have hanging phrases.



A friend gave me these ‘rules’ several years ago. I did not invent them but I have expanded them. BB 9/2002

OK, you want some explanations. Here they are.

Please do not scroll down to them until you have tried to identify the errors and discussed them with someone.




























The title should be Rules for Writers, because Writers is plural, not possessive. You use an apostrophe to indicate possession, in phrases like The writer’s pen.

1. Always check your speling carefully.

Should be spelling

2. Your a careful writer! Check to see if you any words out of a sentence.

Should be You’re a careful writer! Check to see if you left any words out of a sentence.

Your means belonging to you, as in "your pen". If you shorten you are, you must write it as you’re.

3. Always punctuate, appropriately taking special care in the use of commas

The comma should be after appropriately, not after punctuate. There should be a full stop at the end.

4. Avoid tautology, that is, repetitive unnecessary and redundant words surplus to requirements.

The sentence says the same thing four or five times and therefore suffers from tautology. It should be simply Avoid tautology.

5. Make sure that you had noun/verb agreement so that all tenses is correct.

This sentence disobeys its own rule, and should be Make sure that you have noun/verb agreement so that all tenses are correct.

6. When your writing, its vital to use apostrophes’ correctly.

Oh dear, here it is again! The second word is short of “you are” and should obviously be you’re. The fourth word is short for “it is” and should be it’s. There should be no apostrophe after the word apostrophes.

7. There is a distinct risk that if you let your sentences ramble on through many sub-clauses and parentheses (necessary, as these may be to qualify what you want to say) you may make your readers forget — in their effort to grasp the drift of the sentence — what it was you began your sentence by saying.

This horrible sentence falls into its own trap!

8. Never abbrev.

You saw that one immediately — it should be Never abbreviate.

9. Basically, you should look to express yourself clearly, hopefully avoiding clichés and jargon, as far as meaningful discourse.

This is full of jargon and clichés! Unfortunately, many people write and speak like this. First of all, the word basically is used far too often. Avoid it where you can. The phrase look to is an almost meaningless cliché. Use a more suitable verb. Towards the end of last century, hopefully became the most widely used and misused of all words. Please do two things: 1. Look it up in three dictionaries, Australian, British and American, and discover its real meaning in the country where you live. 2. Avoid using it. The final phrase is incomplete. If you start with as far as... you must complete the phrase with something like ...goes or ...is concerned. Finally, meaningful discourse is a verbose term. In this sentence, it would be better to write something clearer, such as "writing" or "discussion".

10. Avoid mixed metaphors, so that your readers do not go off the rails and lose sight of the goal posts while taking a leap in the dark into a Pandora’s box of red herrings.

I don’t need to explain this one, do I? It is a dreadful example of mixed metaphors. There are five metaphors in one sentence. Yes, you can have a good laugh, but remember that it is very easy to mix two metaphors without realising it.

11. If your brain comes up with an ambiguous sentence, get rid of it and replace it with a better one.

Do you get rid of your brain or the sentence? The subject is lost because the word it is not explained. The whole sentence needs restructuring. Be careful how you use the word "it".

12. Having eventually discovered how to put words together, the sentence should not have hanging phrases.

This is an example of a hanging phrase. What the sentence says, in this form, is that the sentence discovered how to put words together. What is missing? The subject of the first part, which is the writer or the person involved. The whole sentence needs restructuring. This is a very common error.

Additional note

During 2004, someone found The Brain Rummager and saw my deliberate error in using an apostrophe in Rules for Writer's. In their blog, they criticised me for having it in the Menu on the front page. That person obviously missed the point — it is meant to alert you to mistakes! I want people to see in on the Front Page, come to this section, and find out why the mistake is there.
 

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