Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fumbling about with the style rules of English

These style rules come from a variety of sources, and have been adapted a bit by me. The principle with all of these rules is that each 'rule' contradicts itself. The original versions have been variously attributed to:
  • The Fumblerules of Grammar by William Safire, The New York Times Magazine, Nov 4, 1979,
  • The Little English Handbook by Edward P. J. Corbett
  • How To Write Good by Frank Visco
There are over forty. Here is a real challenge for advanced students, an exercise based on a sample of them.


The word box below contains various words to do with grammar or language. Make sure you know what they all mean. You can click on any word in the box to see its dictionary definition.


Remember, each 'rule' below breaks its own rule. Type in a word from the word box above into each gap. If your answer is correct it will show up in green and its box will disappear.
  1. Avoid awkward and affected . It’s always annoying anyway.
  2. A(n) is not a word to end a sentence with.
  3. And don't start a sentence with a(n) . But I never do!
  4. Don't use & abbrevs, etc.
  5. Be carefully to use and adverbs correct.
  6. Remarks in (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary.
  7. Each should agree with their antecedent (the noun it represents).
  8. The has it’s rightful place in English, but its important to use it correctly, and remember, not in you're plural's.
  9. It is wrong to ever split a(n) . Try to always avoid doing so.
  10. DO NOT overuse marks and ALL CAPS to emphasize!!!
  11. I'm sure you’d probably agree that aren't necessary, wouldn’t you?
  12. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos, foreign terms and , U.S.W., (np.) are even worse. I could go on ad infinitum about this.
If necessary you can use these clues: 123456789101112
Just mouse over the relevant question number

If you want to try again, just refresh the page

NB Some of these rules are no longer followed. Which do you think are now out of date? Show suggested answer


For more, google 'fumblerules', or go to:

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