Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Contrary to popular opinion, there are good reasons for being picky about grammar, punctuation and the tiresome business of editing one’s writing. We who do this kind of work are often referred to – not always in fun – as nit-pickers or worse, grammar nazis. On the other hand, we who do this work – which most of us enjoy otherwise we wouldn’t do it – can rescue those of you who don’t or can’t do it yourselves from becoming laughing stocks.

On the third hand, those of you who not only don’t do it yourselves but can’t see any reason for it to be done at all should read the following examples, taken from actual published sources, although a few have been slightly changed or tidied up. In some cases it might be necessary to think about them, or re-read them, because that’s what editors do – they read carefully and look out for howlers amongst other sins and omissions. Here we go:

Her eyes lit up, fluttered, met his, dropped to the floor, went back to the jewels. He picked them up, held them for a moment, then handed them back to her with a tender smile.

My husband took an accident policy with your company and in less than a month he was accidentally drowned. I consider it a good investment.

The government were strongly urged to take steps to put a stop to the growing evil of methylated spirits drinking by the Liverpool Justices at their quarterly meeting.

The font so generously presented by Mrs Smith will be set in position at the east end of the church.  Babies may now be baptised at both ends.

He had been aware from the first that she was unusually attractive. Now, in her dark green dress with the low-cut, rounded neckline, he saw that she had lovely legs.

"Good" muttered Pierre to himself, hiding a smile beneath the false black beard which he always carried in his suitcase in case of emergency.

Across a broad stubborn nose he carried a pair of gold-rimmed spectacles, a neat grey lounge suit and a blue shirt with collar to match.

Like Susan, he had dark brown hair with enormous black eyebrows, a moustache and a short beard.


  1. I laughed so hard my furnace turned on.

  2. That's what we need - more laughter. Check out Part II (next week I think) for another dose of howlers. Thanks for commenting.