Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Grammarian, Heal Thyself

An overdue comeuppance...

From Strunk & White's The Elements of Style:
The subject of a sentence and the principal verb should not, as a rule, be separated by a phrase or clause that can be transferred to the beginning.
As if an over-abundance of unintentionally ironic and generally useless advice weren't enough, there's the just plain incompetent grammar. Witness the following alleged examples of the passive voice:
  • There were a great number of dead leaves lying on the ground.
  • It was not long before she was very sorry that she had said what she had.
  • The reason that he left college was that his health became impaired.
I'd write more about this awful little book, but I generally make my worst grammar mistakes in the context of criticizing the grammar of others. Believe me, I'm talking real stinkers. I'd like to quit while I'm ahead. If anyone needs a stylebook, though, I'd recommend Hodges' Harbrace Handbook.


  1. Really, those are examples of the passive voice??? Jesus.

  2. NMJ,
    It's pretty pathetic, isn't it. The writer in the top-linked article really has a go at them.