Did you know that March 4th is National Grammar Day?
That means it's time for a rousing discussion on grammar, right? :) Well maybe not, but I'm thinking we can at least share a few grammar tips that have helped us along the way.
One of my favorite gems comes from William Strunk and E. B. White. In their book The Elements of Style they said,
“Do not overstate. When you overstate, the reader will be instantly on guard, and everything that has preceded your overstatement as well as everything that follows it will be suspect in his mind because he has lost confidence in your judgment or your poise. Overstatement is one of the common faults. A single overstatement, wherever or however it occurs, diminishes the whole, and a single carefree superlative has the power to destroy, for the reader, the object of the writer’s enthusiasm.”
I believe that overstating can take different forms. For example:
1) Capitalized Words
Consider - which is better? This:
I KNOW you’ll AGREE with ME when I SAY that we MUST put an END to THIS DISPUTE.
We must end this dispute.
Have you ever received an e-mail loaded with caps like this? I understand the desire to make a point, but this is distracting and unprofessional.
We can avoid this pitfall and emphasize instead with clear, efficient prose. Skip the caps except for abbreviations and similar instances.
The exclamation point (or mark) suffers from overuse too. Its true purpose of course, is for commands or exclamations like:
Stop! Wait! Halleluiah!
Ever read anything (other than informal correspondence) that had exclamation points sprinkled throughout? Was it really that exciting or was the emphasis lost?
I've read advice that said to review your text for exclamation points and remove all but one. Other alternatives such as italicizing key words and selecting sharp content help make our writing shine.
I think Strunk and White had the right idea. When we put our best writing foot forward, we avoid weak and diluted content. What do you think?
Visit Grammar Girl's National Grammar Day page for tips, links, and more grammar fun.
Do you have any tips to share? Have any grammar pet peeves?
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Text copyright Karen Lange, 2015. Please feel free to link to this post, but no part of this post may be reproduced without written permission.