Everyone else gets punctuation wrong. Apart from the French

Arghh !Phil: It seems that as an author, some ability with your native language is part of the job. Grammar nazis are everywhere and there’s nothing the pedants like more than arguing over the semantics of your words rather than wasting time reading and comprehending them.

Worse, it seems that publishers expect you to be able to write. A few hundred years ago, we had an oral tradition where being able to tell a good story was sufficient and illiteracy didn’t matter. Some might cruelly suggest that certain celebrity authors are maintaining this tradition but I would never say that.

Anyway, some of us have grammar blind spots. My good friend and co-author insists on writing “abit” instead of “a bit” and every time she does, I grind my teeth a bit and chew my tongue.

My personal foible is insisting on inserting a space before exclamation and question marks at the end of a sentence. I think it looks better like this. Cramming a tall end stop hard up against the letters just looks horrible. According to everyone in the Internet, this is wrong. Except in French.

All of this means I have to resist the urge when writing for publication and it’s not proving easy. Some recent editing work has seen me desperately unlearning my automatic space insertion. Which is hard. Like unlearning a habit. Possibly not as hard as giving up smoking but it certainly makes me grouchy.

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6 Comments

Filed under Phil, Writing

6 responses to “Everyone else gets punctuation wrong. Apart from the French

  1. Never tried inserting a space before an exclamation mark, but I’ll give it a go. Sounds like a great idea !

  2. If it stops your flow as you write, just write as you would and then do a search and replace on ” !” with “!”. Might work.

  3. Excellent Laura – The revolution starts here !

  4. I claim my £5 for spotting this weeks deliberate mistake…no full point after “French” in the headline.
    The correct wording should have been:
    Everyone else gets punctuation wrong – apart from the French.
    or
    Everyone else gets punctuation wrong – apart from the French!

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