Twice in the past week I have been reminded of what I'm posting today. First, a colleague tweeted a link to a blog post by Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit. In this post he says, "Good grammar is credibility ... I hire people who care about those details." Then later in the week, a German student of mine from the last millennium tagged me on Facebook with a picture of the first part of one of the things I'm posting today, saying it reminded him of something I would come up with.
I e-mailed something similar in my pre-blog days. After finding it in the archives and doing some research, I'm ready to post it with some attribution. There are so many versions of these lists on the Internet that it was hard to determine who wrote what. I believe the first set of rules was written by Frank L. Visco and originally published in the June 1986 issue of Writers' Digest. I think the second set of rules is derived from the late William Safire's October 7, 1979, and November 4, 1979, On Language columns in The New York Times and/or from Safire's book, Fumblerules: A Lighthearted Guide to Grammar and Good Usage.
In both lists, each of the rules is self-contradictory — they've been dubbed "the rules that break themselves." I've culled out my favorites to share with you.
How to Write Good
Frank LaPosta Visco
My several years in the word game have learnt me several rules:
Avoid alliteration. Always.
Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
Avoid clichés like the plague. (They’re old hat.)
Employ the vernacular.
Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
Contractions aren’t necessary.
Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
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