Thursday, January 19, 2012

Writing about writing

If you’re going to write about writing, write well. Someone at the Huffington Post didn’t:

“Twitter, with it’s unavoidable limitations . . . .”

[When is it its? When it’s not it is. When is it it’s? When it is it is.]

“”The logical steps your reader has to navigate to find the meaning of your sentence is more difficult if you use the passive voice.”

[Well, sometimes, sort of. But we don’t navigate steps in reading a sentence; we navigate the sentence. And we don’t “find the meaning” of a sentence; we understand a sentence (or don’t). Things are also more difficult when your subjects and verbs don’t agree.]

“Adverbs are inherently weakening.”

[I wondered whether the writer is joking about inherently, but nothing else in his presentation makes me think that he is. At any rate, this claim about adverbs is absurd: if I say I slept fitfully, the adverb is crucial to my meaning.]
[“When is it its?” is from Jessica Mitford’s Poison Penmanship: The Gentle Art of Muckraking (1979). Does anyone still read — or listen to — Jessica Mitford? I was Huffington Post-free for weeks till (not ’til) a Google Alert pulled me back in, dammit.]

A related post
Its and it’s

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