A monthly e-newsletter about writing and grammar
I offer the following courses for individuals and organisations:
- Grammar, Punctuation and Usage
- Grammar Basics (for non-native English speakers)
- Write to Govern: how to write effective board papers
- Business Writing
Write a novel in November
November is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).
Do you plan to write a novel next month? I have no intention of writing a novel in a month, but have resurrected a manuscript I started last year and am trying to write for at least an hour most days. I wrote a blog to motivate myself!
A couple of signs have caught my attention lately and I wondered how I would have written them. What would you have said?
In a bathroom in a gym: We politely ask that you leave this bathroom in the state you would expect to find it. Helping us provide a clean and hygienic space.
In a park: Plant material theft will result in a $500 penalty.
By chance, I then found some amusing signs online. Apologies if you’re seen them before – they are corny!
- Analytical Grammar posted on Facebook: WERE OPEN
- In an apartment store: Toilet out of order. Please use floor below.
- In a Laundromat: Washing machines: please remove all your clothes when the light goes out.
- In an office: After tea break, staff should empty the teapot and stand upside down on the draining board.
- In a safari park: Elephants, please stay in your car.
- Farmer’s field: The farmer allows walkers to cross the field for free, but the bull charges.
- At a conference: For anyone who has children and doesn’t know it, there is a day care on the 1st floor.
A reader commented in the Facebook group, All about Words, that The Sydney Morning Herald had an incorrect headline:
One in five honeys are…
It should have said: One in five honeys is...
- McMurphy fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a paper bag filled with vegetable soup.
- Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.
- He was as tall as a six-foot-three-inch tree.
- John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.
- Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long it had rusted shut.
Writing about food
I often avoid reading the commentary in art galleries because the writing is so pretentious, but some of the writing in the latest edition of The Sydney Morning Herald Food Guide is even worse. These extracts were sent by a reader.
‘A hand-dived scallop is charred and spattered in XO sauce, resting on a bed of sea blight. It’s a single bite of sweetness, purity and musk, and a statement of intention for the menu as a whole.’
‘Zonfrillo’s play on an old-school pineapple fritter sees tart, crunchy Davidson plum covered in golden crumbs, draped in lardo and swaddled in a linen napkin. Just like a still life by Rembrandt, if he’d ever visited an Aussie chip shop.’
‘…the marron tail, served with a sauce of ants and Geraldton wax – the bouncy, juicy shellfish offset by deep, vegetal savour and the odd acidic fizz and pop of a whole ant.’
NB The reader pointed out:
- Sea blight is usually spelt sea blite or seablite. (It’s a coastal plant.)
- Geraldton wax is a flowering plant.
Interesting articles about writing
The bookish life: how to read and why
An interesting article, but Joseph Epstein might want to add a few female writers to his list. Do you tend to read more books by men or women?
Five tips for writing a persuasive ‘About us’ page for your website
I don’t agree with everything Thomas Griffin says, but it’s worth a read if you have a personal ‘About us’ page.
Growing up in the library
I enjoyed this article by Susan Orlean (author of The Orchid Thief). It brought back memories of going to the library every Friday and then having fish and chips with family friends. We were only allowed to borrow two books at a time, so had to choose carefully.
Good bye, farewell, be on your merry way: how to sign off your emails
This article states that emails that end with some variation of ‘thank you’ receive more responses than any other sign-off. How do you sign off your emails?
How to use ‘myself’ and other reflexive pronouns
The misuse of reflexive pronouns is one of my pet hates. Read this Grammar Girl post.
My online Grammar, Punctuation and Usage course covers reflexive and other pronouns.
If you’re on LinkedIn, please connect with me.
Quote of the month
‘Do not dress up words by adding ly to them, as though putting a hat on a horse.’
Strunk & White, The Elements of Style