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Top Ten Grammar Myths

March 4 is National Grammar Day. So I've created a special grammar-related top 10 show to celebrate the occasion.

By
Mignon Fogarty,,
March 4, 2010
Episode #211

Page 1 of 2

 

March 4 is National Grammar Day, so I have a special top-10 show to celebrate the occasion, and before you argue with me, read the whole explanation about why each of these is a myth.

Grammar Girl's Top 10 Language Myths:

10. A run-on sentence is a really long sentence. Wrong! They can actually be quite short. In a run-on sentence, independent clauses are squished together without the help of punctuation or a conjunction. If you write “I am short he is tall,” as one sentence without a semicolon, colon, or dash between the two independent clauses, it's a run-on sentence even though it only has six words. (See episode 49 for more details.)

9. You shouldn't start a sentence with the word “however.” Wrong! It's fine to start a sentence with “however” so long as you use a comma after it when it means "nevertheless." (See episode 58 for more details.)

8. “Irregardless” is not a word. Wrong! “Irregardless” is a bad word and a word you shouldn't use, but it is a word. “Floogetyflop” isn't a word—I just made it up and you have no idea what it means.  “Irregardless,” on the other hand, is in almost every dictionary labeled as nonstandard. You shouldn't use it if you want to be taken seriously, but it has gained wide enough use to qualify as a word. (See episode 94 for more details.)

7. There is only one way to write the possessive form of a word that ends in “s.” Wrong! It's a style choice. For example, in the phrase “Kansas's statute,” you can put just an apostrophe at the end of “Kansas” or you can put an apostrophe “s” at the end of “Kansas.” Both ways are acceptable. (See episode 35 for more details.)

6. Passive voice is always wrong. Wrong! Passive voice is when you don't name the person who's responsible for the action. An example is the sentence "Mistakes were made," because it doesn't say who made the mistakes. If you don't know who is responsible for an action, passive voice can be the best choice. (See episode 46 for more details.)

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