Dh sent me this - he thought it would amuse the grammar pedants on Mumsnet. He and I are both pedants ourselves - poor ds will have it's v. its and between 2/amongst 3 or more drummed into him. I will admit to failings on items 8 and 16 !!! (as evidenced by my usual Mumsnet postings)
1. Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
3. And dont start a sentence with a conjunction.
4. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
5. Avoid clichés like the plague.
6. Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.
7. Be more or less specific.
8. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary.
9. No sentence fragments.
10. Contractions arent necessary and shouldnt be used.
11. One should never generalise.
12. Dont use no double negatives.
13. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
14. Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary.
15. Never use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.
16. Kill all exclamation marks!!!
17. Use words corrrectly, irregardless of how others use them.
18. Use the apostrophe in its proper place and omit it when its not needed.
19. Puns are for childen, not groan readers.
20. Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.
From the Guardian January 1999
The languages class has gathered and the professor enters the room.
Todays lesson is on negatives and positives ... begins the Prof.
He goes on There are languages when you will have a positive and negative together which will make a positive, there are languages when you will have a negative and a positive together which will make a negative. There are even some languages when you have two negatives together which will make a negative and in one or two you will have times when you have two negatives that will make a positive. There are many languages where two positives reinforce the positive but you will never, never, find a language anywhere in the world where two positives make a negative .
A little Glasgow voice pipes up from the back aye, right!
I don't fully agree with No.4. Although I try to avoid splitting infinitives, there are times when you need to, as it otherwise changes what you are trying to say. Fowler's, the grammar bible, also says that is is not always wrong to split an infinitive.
However, in case I come across pedants who don't have that flexible attitude, I will usually do what my mother (a retired English teacher) advises: re-arrange the sentence until you avoid the grammatical problem!
very good. Have to agree about splitting infinitives though - that they are OK, that is. Also ending a sentence on a preposition is OK, unless you are a Victorian. If you follow either of those two "rules" you get really pompous sounding sentences like "My mum told me always to walk on the pavement" (instead of "...to always walk.." which sounds more natural) and "this is the kind of sentence up with which I will not put" (think that was Churchill).
But I like doing number 3! (...as in, what it says NOT to do).
I think it is one of those areas in transition - where it reflects modern, more colloquial speech, used in e-mail and fora such as this. It seems fresher and more immediate.
On the other hand, it is NOT something that should be done in formal reports or letters. Journalists should also be careful and only use it for effect - and not just out of laziness or because they don't kow better.