Nobody’s perfect. In his neverending battle against The Elements of Style, Geoffrey Pullum has overlooked one genuine mistake in the book, or at least in the book’s 1959 edition. E. B. White writes about it in a July 13, 1962 letter to the book’s editor, Jack Case:
You chose a real whiz (“Whizzer White,” they call me) when you picked me for your grammarian. A man named Betz, in Riverside, Connecticut, has turned up the best boo boo yet. Look on P. 52, first paragraph. “There is no . . .”Here is the problem sentence:
There is no inflexible rules, all righty!
Someday I shall make a trip to the attic, examine the original manuscript, and find out whether I really wrote that. Meantime, I plan to burn my typewriter and scatter the ashes over Lower Fifth Avenue.
Letters of E. B. White, ed. Dorothy Lobrano Guth (New York: Harper & Row, 1976).
Changing is to are would not help here: the only way out is to recast the sentence. From the second edition (1972):
I snagged a hardcover copy of the second edition of The Elements of Style for a modest price in a used-book store this past weekend. The cover alone was worth it.
E. B. White on another Elements error
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