In a week of processing copy, I spotted this in a Daily Mail story:
‘Then there were other non-essential tasks such as watering plants and
sorting out the sock draw which suddenly became urgent priorities
ahead of the essential task they really should be concentrating on.’
Thing is, you reorganise your sock drawER, not your sock draw.
Looked at in context, it’s possible that the mistake was contained in
the original statement from the source of the story, and somehow
slipped past the usually excellent Mail subbing system.
Moral of the story: just because it’s in an email from someone else,
doesn’t mean it’s right.
* First published on Grubstreet
When I was school (a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away) our
small, fierce and lovely matric English teacher (complete with
Scottish accent) drilled this into us: you never write “try and” – you
write “try to”. Continue reading
Time for the apostrophe
Recently, on Cape Talk radio (www.capetalk.co.za), afternoon host John Maytham read out a communication from a listener about a sign seen at the Mining Indaba where the apostrophe reared its small and annoying head. The sign said something like “Worlds’ Mines. How many worlds do the people at the Mining Indaba think there are?
Now this is one of the great dividers between the general population and Sticklers for English Usage (such as myself). In spoken English the apostrophe is irrelevant; in signs in shops that say Stickers and Tattoo’s (the Cape Science Centre, Feb 9) it doesn’t essentially matter: communication has been achieved and the shoppers know where to find the tattoos. Continue reading
Commas. Such a tiny piece of punctuation, so wrongly used so much of the time. Continue reading
But: such a little word, such a lot of confusion.
You can go mad looking at grammar rules to find out when the use of But is appropriate – although it seems that a lot of people are not aware they need to think about it at all. Continue reading