Being helpful

We word nerds all have our pet hates when it comes to grammar, spelling, punctuation and, well, (the misuse of) words. For what it’s worth, we can’t help it. My mother-­in­-law is an artist, paints lovely water colours. I was admiring some of her recent paintings and browsing the attached captions, helpfully pointing out spelling mistakes and that the 1900s do not have an apostrophe. Helpfully, I swear. I’ve worked as an editor in the past and reviewing documents can also be a minefield of very cautious, every-word-is-sacred (hi CJ!) diplomacy. Others are not so diplomatic such as the hilarious Miss L from transcyberia (interesting place!). Anywho, to keep being helpful, here’s a great Top 10 list of things to do to write good (an oldie but a goodie!).


1.  Avoid alliteration. Always.

2.  Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.

3.  Avoid clichés like the plague. They are old hat.

4.  Comparisons are as bad as clichés.

5.  Be quite specific.

6.  Writers should never generalise.

Seven. Be consistent.

8.  Don’t be redundant. Don’t use more words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous.

9.  Who needs rhetorical questions?

10. Exaggeration is a million times worse than understatement.




I’m not really a list person. I vaguely think of things I need to do or get. I sometimes compile a list of DVDs I’d like to watch but throw it out when I’m cleaning up the lounge room. I save lists of ‘books you must read before you die’ when I see one. But in my heart of hearts I’m not a list person. Some people are: they have shopping lists, to do lists, Christmas presents lists. They get an endorphin rush from crossing things off their list.

My friend CJ loves lists. CJ is also a very organised person so this fits. Amongst her lists is her Top 5 list of words she’d like to see removed from the English language. Her top 5 (in no particular order, I checked) are: cookies, panties, c**t, fries (though ‘French fries’ is OK) and moist (but moisturise is OK). The reasons are: it’s a biscuit; it’s a silly word; it’s an obnoxious word; American (unless prefaced with French) and just yuck. This got me thinking about my Top 5 list of words that I would like removed. As I pondered I realised I didn’t have five, only four (which is more instagramish at least) and I’d rather they weren’t removed – I object to censorship. So, in no particular order, I detest the words c**t, tits, yo (but I quite like yo-yo) and bloody. My reasons being: it’s obnoxious; it’s an ugly expression; sounds so dopey and sounds ugly (plus the connotation is too).

Any other words that need a smack out there? Or how about words being misused or abused?

Image used with permission from Microsoft.