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Strunk, W., Jr. and White, E.B.
CONTENTS I. II. INTRODUCTORY.................................................................................................. 2 ELEMENTARY RULES OF USAGE..................................................................... 2 1. Form the possessive singular of nouns with 's................................................ 2 2. In a series of three or more terms with a single conjunction, use a comma after each term except the last.......................................................................... 3 3. Enclose parenthetic expressions between commas.......................................... 3 4. Place a comma before and or but introducing an independent clause.............. 4 5. Do not join independent clauses by a comma. ................................................ 5 6. Do not break sentences in two. ....................................................................... 5 7. A participial phrase at the beginning of a sentence must refer to the grammatical subject......................................................................................... 6 8. Divide words at line-ends, in accordance with their formation and pronunciation.................................................................................................. 7 a. Divide the word according to its formation: ............................................. 7 b. Divide "on the vowel:" ............................................................................. 7 c. Divide between double letters, unless they come at the end of the simple form of the word:.......................................................................... 7 ELEMENTARY PRINCIPLES OF COMPOSITION............................................ 7 9. Make the paragraph the unit of composition: one paragraph to each topic...... 7 10. As a rule, begin each paragraph with a topic sentence ..................................... 8 11. Use the active voice. The active voice is usually more direct and vigorous than the passive:............................................................................................ 11 12. Put statements in positive form. .................................................................... 12 13. Omit needless words..................................................................................... 12 14. Avoid a succession of loose sentences.......................................................... 13 15. Express co-ordinate ideas in similar form..................................................... 14 16. Keep related words together.......................................................................... 15 17. In summaries, keep to one tense.................................................................... 16 18. Place the emphatic words of a sentence at the end......................................... 17 A FEW MATTERS OF FORM ............................................................................ 18 WORDS AND EXPRESSIONS COMMONLY MISUSED............................... 19 WORDS OFTEN MISSPELLED......................................................................... 25
IV. V. VI.
INTRODUCTORY This book is intended for use in English courses in which the practice of composition is combined with the study of literature. It aims to give in brief space the principal requirements of plain English style. It aims to lighten the task of instructor and student by concentrating attention (in Chapters II and III) on a few essentials, the rules of usage and principles of composition most commonly violated. The numbers of the sections may be used as references in correcting manuscript. The book covers only a small portion of the field of English style, but the experience of its writer has been that once past the essentials, students profit most by individual instruction based on the problems of their own work, and that each instructor has his own body of theory, which he prefers to that offered by any textbook. The writer's colleagues in the Department of English in Cornell University have greatly helped him in the preparation of his manuscript. Mr. George McLane Wood has kindly consented to the inclusion under Rule 11 of some material from his Suggestions to Authors. The following books are recommended for reference or further study: in connection with Chapters II and IV, F. Howard Collins, Author and Printer (Henry Frowde); Chicago University Press, Manual of Style; T. L. De Vinne Correct Composition (The Century Company); Horace Hart, Rules for Compositors and Printers (Oxford University Press); George McLane Wood, Extracts from the Style-Book of the Government Printing Office (United States Geological Survey); in connection with Chapters III and V, Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, The Art of Writing (Putnams), especially the chapter, Interlude on Jargon; George McLane Wood, Suggestions to Authors (United States Geological Survey); John Leslie Hall, English Usage (Scott, Foresman and Co.); James P. Kelly, Workmanship in Words (Little, Brown and Co.) It is an old observation that the best writers sometimes disregard the rules of rhetoric. When they do so, however, the reader will usually find in the sentence some compensating merit, attained at the cost of the violation. Unless he is certain of doing as well, he will probably do best to follow the rules. After he has learned, by their guidance, to write plain English adequate for everyday uses, let him look, for the secrets of style, to the study of the masters of literature.
ELEMENTARY RULES OF USAGE
Form the possessive singular of nouns with 's.
Follow this rule whatever the final consonant. Thus write, Charles's friend Burns's poems the witch's malice This is the usage of the United States Government Printing Office and of the Oxford University Press. Exceptions are the possessives of ancient proper names in -es and -is, the possessive Jesus', and such forms as for conscience' sake, for righteousness' sake. But such forms as Achilles' heel, Moses' laws, Isis' temple are commonly replaced by
parenthetically. Thus write. 3 . This is also the usage of the Government Printing Office and of the Oxford University Press. is or is not parenthetic. or My brother you will be pleased to hear. but headstrong He opened the letter. set off by commas. Each sentence is a combination of two statements which might have been made independently. its. as Brown. they do not limit the application of the words on which they depend. statements supplementing those in the principal clauses. white. If the interruption to the flow of the sentence is but slight. where Coleridge wrote The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. 2. when. such as however. unless you are pressed for time. which had at first been indifferent. 3. or a brief phrase. but add. and made a note of its contents. even if only a single term comes before it. Colonel Nelson paid us a visit yesterday. the writer may safely omit the commas. and where are nonrestrictive. theirs. and blue honest. In a series of three or more terms with a single conjunction. is a few miles from Bridgewater. Shipley and Company The abbreviation etc. But whether the interruption be slight or considerable. The audience.the heel of Achilles the laws of Moses the temple of Isis The pronominal possessives hers. is now in perfect health. Such punctuation as Marjorie's husband. energetic. and oneself have no apostrophe. in accordance with this rule. In 1769. Enclose parenthetic expressions between commas. he must never omit one comma and leave the other. use a comma after each term except the last. Similar clauses introduced by where and when are similarly punctuated. is indefensible. it is frequently hard to decide whether a single word. is to travel on foot.. Corsica had but recently been acquired by France. red. The best way to see a country. In the names of business firms the last comma is omitted. In these sentences the clauses introduced by which. read it. when Napoleon was born. is always preceded by a comma. became more and more interested. Non-restrictive relative clauses are. yours. Nether Stowey. This rule is difficult to apply.
unstudied writing. it indicates only that a relation exists between them without defining that relation. the second clause has the appearance of an after-thought. and jr. the relation is that of cause and result. the story of its first years can no longer be reconstructed. 7. 16. greeted us with a smile. In the example above. followed by one. The sentences quoted in this section and under Rules 4. He saw us coming. are always preceded by a comma. place the first comma before the conjunction. not after it. But a writer may err by making his sentences too uniformly compact and periodic. and except at the end of a sentence. Nether Stowey is only a few miles from Bridgewater. Coleridge wrote The Rime of the Ancient Mariner at Nether Stowey. Restrictive relative clauses are not set off by commas. In this sentence the relative clause restricts the application of the word candidate to a single person. As they make complete sense when the comma is reached. Sentences of this type. Place a comma before and or but introducing an independent clause. is the least specific of connectives. there is still one chance of escape. and 18 should afford sufficient guidance. and. but there is still one chance of escape. the story of its first years can no longer be reconstructed. and an occasional loose sentence prevents the style from becoming too formal and gives the reader a certain relief. isolated from their context.The audience was at first indifferent. The situation is perilous. 4. loose sentences of the type first quoted are common in easy. and unaware that we had learned of his treachery. Used between independent clauses. and the story of its first years can no longer be reconstructed. Consequently. may seem to be in need of rewriting. Further. The early records of the city have disappeared. Unlike those above. The candidate who best meets these requirements will obtain the place. The abbreviations etc. In this perilous situation. 4 . there is still one chance of escape. Later it became more and more interested. the sentence cannot be split into two independent statements. 6. Napoleon was born in 1769. But a writer should be careful not to construct too many of his sentences after this pattern (see Rule 14). Or the subordinate clauses might be replaced by phrases: Owing to the disappearance of the early records of the city. If a parenthetic expression is preceded by a conjunction. Similar in principle to the enclosing of parenthetic expressions between commas is the setting off by commas of phrases or dependent clauses preceding or following the main clause of a sentence. 5. Although the situation is perilous. The two sentences might be rewritten: As the early records of the city have disappeared. At that time Corsica had but recently been acquired by France.
If two or more clauses. 6. nor. I had never been in the place before. Do not break sentences in two. Stevenson's romances are entertaining. and begin the first clause with as: As I had never been in the place before. 5. and while (in the sense of and at the same time) likewise require a comma before the conjunction. If a dependent clause. are to form a single compound sentence. We cannot reach town before dark. Do not join independent clauses by a comma. It is nearly half past five. and are alike in form. besides. therefore. The situation is perilous. For two-part sentences connected by an adverb. there is danger that the writer who uses it at all may use it too often. it is best.Two-part sentences of which the second member is introduced by as (in the sense of because). or an introductory phrase requiring to be set off by a comma. so. but if we are prepared to act promptly. precedes the second independent clause. Stevenson's romances are entertaining. to avoid using so in this manner. the proper mark is a comma (Rule 4). I had difficulty in finding my way about. the bridge fell. It is nearly half past five. do not use periods for commas. then. They are full of exciting adventures. Note that if the second clause is preceded by an adverb. Stevenson's romances are entertaining. or thus. no comma is needed after the conjunction. grammatically complete and not joined by a conjunction. and we cannot reach town before dark. for they are full of exciting adventures. or. usually serviceable. for. they are full of exciting adventures. in writing. A simple correction. In other words. the semicolon is still required. the proper mark of punctuation is a semicolon. and not by a conjunction. 5 . there is still one chance of escape. God disposes. a comma is usually permissible: Man proposes. we cannot reach town before dark. If the clauses are very short. however. replacing the semicolons by periods. In general. If a conjunction is inserted. The gate swung apart. It is nearly half past five. is to omit the word so. so I had difficulty in finding my way about. such as accordingly. It is of course equally correct to write the above as two sentences each. the portcullis was drawn up. see the next section.
walking slowly down the road. Being in a dilapidated condition. In both these examples. and that he will not be suspected of a mere blunder in punctuation. he was entrusted with the defence of the city. and 6 cover the most important principles in the punctuation of ordinary sentences. A participial phrase at the beginning of a sentence must refer to the grammatical subject. Participial phrases preceded by a conjunction or by a preposition. they should be so thoroughly mastered that their application becomes second nature. 7. Walking slowly down the road. It is permissible to make an emphatic word or expression serve the purpose of a sentence and to punctuate it accordingly: Again and again he called out. Without a friend to counsel him. Coming home from Liverpool to New York. Without a friend to counsel him. his friends met him at the station. and adjective phrases come under the same rule if they begin the sentence. nouns in apposition. 6 . accompanied by two children. they entrusted him with the defence of the city. He was an interesting talker. No reply. A soldier of proved valor. I thought the task easy. On arriving in Chicago. A soldier of proved valor.I met them on a Cunard liner several years ago. When he arrived (or. 4. and the following word begun with a small letter. Young and inexperienced. The word walking refers to the subject of the sentence. and lived in half a dozen countries. I was able to buy the house very cheap. he must recast the sentence: He saw a woman. the temptation proved irresistible. the task seemed easy to me. he saw a woman accompanied by two children. the first period should be replaced by a comma. his friends met him at the station. not to the woman. On his arrival) in Chicago. The writer must. adjectives. however. Young and inexperienced. 5. If the writer wishes to make it refer to the woman. be certain that the emphasis is warranted. A man who had traveled all over the world. Sentences violating this rule are often ludicrous. he found the temptation irresistible. Rules 3.
a narrative merely outlining an action. but tell-ing. or if you intend to treat it very briefly. however. a brief summary of a literary work. c. Divide "on the vowel:" edi-ble (not ed-ible). Divide between double letters. III. The object of treating each topic in a paragraph by itself is. each of which should be made the subject of a paragraph. Divide words at line-ends. presump-tuous. the setting forth of a single idea. regu-lar. propo-sition. refer-ring. The treatment of consonants in combination is best shown from examples: for-tune. Ordinarily. classi-fi-ca-tion (three divisions possible). a short notice of a book or poem might consist of a single paragraph.8. reli-gious. might consist of seven paragraphs: 7 . it should be examined to see whether subdivision will not improve it. might consist of seven paragraphs: A report on a poem. a subject requires subdivision into topics. indus-try. in accordance with their formation and pronunciation. atmo-sphere (not atmos-phere). unless this involves cutting off only a single letter. A report on a poem. illus-tration. The beginning of each paragraph is a signal to him that a new step in the development of the subject has been reached. to aid the reader. de-scribe (not des-cribe). or cutting off only two letters of a long word. incen-diary. any one of these is best written in a single paragraph. of course. sug-ges-tion. After the paragraph has been written. If there is room at the end of a line for one or more syllables of a word. pic-ture. Thus a brief description. written for a class in literature. No hard and fast rule for all words can be laid down. ELEMENTARY PRINCIPLES OF COMPOSITION 9. The principles most frequently applicable are: a. oppo-nents. there may be no need of subdividing it into topics. Account of the work. b. If the subject on which you are writing is of slight extent. Make the paragraph the unit of composition: one paragraph to each topic. deco-rative. Divide the word according to its formation: know-ledge (not knowl-edge). The student will do well to examine the syllable-division in a number of pages of any carefully printed book. Cincin-nati. written for a class in literature. Critical discussion. espe-cial. instruc-tion. For example. Shake-speare (not Shakespeare). ordi-nary. B. The extent of subdivision will vary with the length of the composition. but not for the whole word. a brief account of a single incident. presi-dent. divide the word. unless they come at the end of the simple form of the word: Apen-nines. sub-stan-tial (either division). One slightly longer might consist of two paragraphs: A.
The practice here recommended enables him to discover the purpose of each paragraph as he begins to read it. that is. The contents of paragraphs C and D would vary with the poem. paragraph C would indicate the actual or imagined circumstances of the poem (the situation). and to retain the purpose in mind as he ends it. For this reason. The application of this rule. D.A. Again. or would indicate what points in the narrative are chiefly emphasized. or with an unimportant detail. What led up to the event. 10. F. B. For what chiefly remarkable. particularly in exposition and argument. each speech. even if only a single word. end it in conformity with the beginning. A novel might be discussed under the heads: A. if these call for explanation. Subject. B. however. the topic sentence comes at or near the beginning. Paragraph D would indicate the leading ideas and show how they are made prominent. the object is to aid the reader. Setting. and c. Plot. C. is particularly to be avoided. Treatment of subject. the final sentence either emphasizes the thought of the topic sentence or states some important consequence. G. is that in which a. As a rule. C. when dialogue and narrative are combined. the succeeding sentences explain or establish or develop the statement made in the topic sentence. C. Purpose. b. the most generally useful kind of paragraph. This can sometimes be done by a mere word or phrase (again. and would then state the subject and outline its development. metrical form. therefore. E. B. A historical event might be discussed under the heads: A. may need to be expressed. If the poem is a narrative in the third person throughout. it is expedient to precede the topic sentence by one or more sentences of introduction or transition. is a paragraph by itself. paragraph C need contain no more than a concise summary of the action. Relationship to other works. In dialogue. begin each paragraph with a topic sentence. D. its relation to what precedes. Ending with a digression. Usually. for the same reason) in the topic sentence. As a rule. is best learned from examples in wellprinted works of fiction. indicating the relation between the parts of an exposition or argument. An exception may be made of sentences of transition. Account of the event. Characters. a new paragraph begins with each change of speaker. single sentences should not be written or printed as paragraphs. If the paragraph forms part of a larger composition. Kind of poem. the writer would probably find it necessary to subdivide one or more of the topics here given. Wherein characteristic of the writer. In treating either of these last two subjects. or its function as a part of the whole. What the event led up to. Sometimes. If more than one such sentence is 8 . Facts of composition and publication.
required. stated in still another form. I wish to vegetate like the country. 8 Repetition. as indicated above. the meaning of the third ("you must have your own pace") made clearer by denying the converse. that begins in a sort of dazzle and sluggishness of the brain." which is the gist of all that can be said upon the matter. 3 The topic sentence repeated. 4 And you must be open to all impressions and let your thoughts take colour from what you see. nor mince in time with a girl. it is something else and more in the nature of a picnic. it is generally better to set apart the transitional sentences as a separate paragraph. 8 There should be no cackle of voices at your elbow. because freedom is of the essence. and supported by three reasons. and neither trot alongside a champion walker. 6 "I cannot see the wit. 9 . 9 And so long as a man is reasoning he cannot surrender himself to that fine intoxication that comes of much motion in the open air. According to the writer's purpose. a walking tour should be gone upon alone. 5 The same reason. 2 The meaning made clearer by denial of the contrary. to be properly enjoyed. because you should be able to stop and go on. 7 When I am in the country. he may. it is no longer a walking tour in anything but name." says Hazlitt. relate the body of the paragraph to the topic sentence in one or more of several different ways. 9 Final statement of the fourth reason. by defining its terms. in language amplified and heightened to form a strong conclusion. In a long paragraph. and because you must have your own pace. as the freak takes you. by giving illustrations or specific instances. he may establish it by proofs. 1 Topic sentence. by denying the converse. 5 You should be as a pipe for any wind to play upon. 1 Now. in paraphrase. and follow this way or that. "of walking and talking at the same time. of the quotation from Hazlitt. to jar on the meditative silence of the morning. he may carry out several of these processes. 3 A walking tour should be gone upon alone. stated in two forms.--Stevenson. in abridged form. 6-7 The same reason as stated by Hazlitt. or he may develop it by showing its implications and consequences. 2 If you go in a company. 4 A fourth reason. Walking Tours. He may make the meaning of the topic sentence clearer by restating it in other forms. or even in pairs. and ends in a peace that passes comprehension.
of industry. 3 The definition expanded. the dominant ideas that prevailed in successive periods. At length I thought I might return towards the stockade. 6 They undertook to study in the past the physiology of nations. the changes that take place in manners or beliefs. would become a mannerism. are often without even this semblance of a topic sentence. and they emerged on the roof. 10 . and of art. The Political Value of History 1 Topic sentence. More commonly the opening sentence simply indicates by its subject with what the paragraph is to be principally concerned. 4 The definition explained by contrast. In narration and description the paragraph sometimes begins with a concise. 2 Historians then came to believe that their task was not so much to paint a picture as to solve a problem. and modification of political constitutions. fall. He picked up the heavy lamp from the table and began to explore. The break between them serves the purpose of a rhetorical pause. 5 They looked especially in history for the chain of causes and effects. The brief paragraphs of animated narrative. Another flight of steps.--Lecky. prosperity. 2 The meaning of the topic sentence made clearer. The next ten or twelve pages were filled with a curious set of entries. and adversity.1 It was chiefly in the eighteenth century that a very different conception of history grew up. in a word. however. all the conditions of national well-being became the subjects of their works. But this device. to explain or illustrate the successive phases of national growth. if too often used. comprehensive statement serving to hold together the details that follow. the new conception of history defined. The breeze served us admirably. The campaign opened with a series of reverses. of intellect. 5 The definition supplemented: another element in the new conception of history. throwing into prominence some detail of the action. 4 They sought rather to write a history of peoples than a history of kings. and hoped by applying the experimental method on a large scale to deduce some lessons of real value about the conditions on which the welfare of society mainly depend. 6 Conclusion: an important consequence of the new conception of history. 3 The history of morals. the rise.
which is frequently convenient and sometimes necessary. The habitual use of the active voice. or could be heard. Dead leaves covered the ground. avoid making one passive depend directly upon another. that will always remember this visit? This rule does not. makes for forcible writing. Failing health compelled him to leave college. however. This is much better than My first visit to Boston will always be remembered by me. If the writer tries to make it more concise by omitting "by me. It was not long before he was very sorry that he had said what he had. in a paragraph on the tastes of modern readers. He soon repented his words. Modern readers have little esteem for the dramatists of the Restoration. He has been proved to have been seen entering the building. The first would be the right form in a paragraph on the dramatists of the Restoration. 11 ." My first visit to Boston will always be remembered. In both the examples above. Gold was not allowed to be exported. The sound of the falls could still be heard. The active voice is usually more direct and vigorous than the passive: I shall always remember my first visit to Boston. the second. of course. As a rule. and less concise. but in writing of any kind. Many a tame sentence of description or exposition can be made lively and emphatic by substituting a transitive in the active voice for some such perfunctory expression as there is. The reason that he left college was that his health became impaired. less bold. mean that the writer should entirely discard the passive voice. This is true not only in narrative principally concerned with action.11. determine which voice is to be used. It has been proved that he was seen to enter the building. The sound of the falls still reached our ears. Use the active voice. the word properly related to the second passive is made the subject of the first. There were a great number of dead leaves lying on the ground. before correction. or some person undisclosed. it becomes indefinite: is it the writer. The need of making a particular word the subject of the sentence will often. as in these examples. or the world at large. The dramatists of the Restoration are little esteemed today. The latter sentence is less direct. It was forbidden to export gold (The export of gold was prohibited).
a paragraph no unnecessary sentences. 13. the reader is dissatisfied with being told only what is not. consequently. not honest dishonest not important trifling did not remember forgot did not pay any attention to ignored did not have much confidence in distrusted The antithesis of negative and positive is strong: Not charity. never as a means of evasion. Make definite assertions. Shakespeare does not portray Katharine as a very admirable character. This requires not 12 .A common fault is to use as the subject of a passive construction a noun which expresses the entire action. is indefinite as well as negative. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words. is simply a guess at the writer's intention. "The export of gold was prohibited. Compare the sentence. Bianca insignificant. colorless. This region was surveyed in 1900. it is better to express a negative in positive form. A survey of this region was made in 1900. nor does Bianca remain long in memory as an important character in Shakespeare's works." 12. Confirmation of these reports cannot be obtained. but simple justice. Avoid tame." in which the predicate "was prohibited" expresses something not implied in "export. Vigorous writing is concise. The army was rapidly mobilized. Hence. The last example. He thought the study of Latin useless. Not that I loved Caesar less. before correction. non-committal language. These reports cannot be confirmed. Katharine is disagreeable. leaving to the verb no function beyond that of completing the sentence. The Taming of the Shrew is rather weak in spots. The corrected version. The women in The Taming of the Shrew are unattractive. Mobilization of the army was rapidly carried out. He did not think that studying Latin was much use. Put statements in positive form. Negative words other than not are usually strong: The sun never sets upon the British flag. he wishes to be told what is. He usually came late. He was not very often on time. All three examples show the weakness inherent in the word not. as a rule. for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. Use the word not as a means of denial or in antithesis. Consciously or unconsciously. Omit needless words. but Rome the more. hesitating.
13 . Although single sentences of this type may be unexceptionable (see under Rule 4). This rule refers especially to loose sentences of a particular type. Many expressions in common use violate this principle: the question as to whether whether (the question whether) there is no doubt but that no doubt (doubtless) used for fuel purposes used for fuel he is a man who he in a hasty manner hastily this is a subject which this subject His story is a strange one. Encouraged by his wife. Who is. and the active voice more concise than the passive. owing to the fact that since (because) in spite of the fact that though (although) call your attention to the fact that remind you (notify you) I was unaware of the fact that I was unaware that (did not know) the fact that he had not succeeded his failure the fact that I had arrived my arrival See also under case. and less frequently. (55 words. when. Macbeth was very ambitious. where. system in Chapter V. the second introduced by a conjunction or relative. character. but that every word tell. or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline. Nelson's last battle As positive statement is more concise than negative. In especial the expression the fact that should be revised out of every sentence in which it occurs. Macbeth murdered Duncan. Avoid a succession of loose sentences. His brother. The king of Scotland at this time was Duncan. step by step. many of the examples given under Rules 11 and 12 illustrate this rule as well. and while. A common violation of conciseness is the presentation of a single complex idea. He was thus enabled to succeed Duncan as king. An unskilful writer will sometimes construct a whole paragraph of sentences of this kind. these last in non-restrictive senses (see under Rule 3). in a series of sentences which might to advantage be combined into one. This led him to wish to become king of Scotland. nature. a member of the same firm Trafalgar. (26 words. which was.that the writer make all his sentences short. using as connectives and. who.) Encouraged by his wife. which was Nelson's last battle Trafalgar.) 14. those consisting of two co-ordinate clauses. who is a member of the same firm His brother. Macbeth achieved his ambition and realized the prediction of the witches by murdering Duncan and becoming king of Scotland in his place. and the like are often superfluous. The witches told him that this wish of his would come true. His story is strange. but. which. a series soon becomes monotonous and tedious.
Apart from its triteness and emptiness. The former showed himself to be an artist of the first rank. with their mechanical symmetry and sing-song. If the writer finds that he has written a series of sentences of the type described. when an equally attractive programme will be presented. The left-hand version gives the impression that the writer is undecided or timid. The fourth concert will be given on Tuesday. summer. replacing them by simple sentences. requires that expressions of similar content and function should be outwardly similar. and the Boston Symphony Orchestra furnished the instrumental music. May 10. and. Formerly. he should recast enough of them to remove the monotony. the Italians. second. and the Portuguese In spring. and a large audience was in attendance. Formerly. or in any piece of good English prose. loose or periodic. and Portuguese The French. Edward Appleton was the soloist. For illustration. and the like) should be followed by the same grammatical construction. he seems unable or afraid to choose one form of expression and hold to it. The likeness of form enables the reader to recognize more readily the likeness of content and function. in summer. It is true that in repeating a statement in order to emphasize it he may have need to vary its form. an article or a preposition applying to all the members of a series must either be used only before the first term or else be repeated before each term. from a mistaken belief that he should constantly vary the form of his expressions. or winter (In spring. 15. but also. the Italians. science was taught by the textbook method. either. 14 . or. as the preface (Before the Curtain) to Vanity Fair. Familiar instances from the Bible are the Ten Commandments. But apart from this. of three clauses--whichever best represent the real relations of the thought. and it is planned to give a similar series annually hereafter. or in winter) Correlative expressions (both. by sentences. not only. by periodic sentences of two clauses. By this principle. but. Mr. The French. This principle. first. that of parallel construction. he should follow the principle of parallel construction. Many violations of this rule can be corrected by rearranging the sentence. Spanish. while the latter proved itself fully deserving of its high reputation. Contrast with them the sentences in the paragraphs quoted under Rule 10. The interest aroused by the series has been very gratifying to the Committee. the Spanish. the paragraph above is bad because of the structure of its sentences. now it is taught by the laboratory method. while now the laboratory method is employed.The third concert of the subscription series was given last evening. third. The righthand version shows that the writer has at least made his choice and abided by it. The unskilful writer often violates this principle. science was taught by the textbook method. summer. by sentences of two clauses joined by a semicolon. see the paragraph from Stevenson quoted under Rule 10. or in winter In spring. and the petitions of the Lord's Prayer. the Beatitudes. Express co-ordinate ideas in similar form. not.
The relative pronoun should come. immediately after its antecedent. the injustice of the measure. as a rule. The ceremony was both long and tedious. 16. This is a portrait of Benjamin Harrison. The subject of a sentence and the principal verb should not. The position of the words in a sentence is the principal means of showing their relationship. bring together the words. but action A time not for words. second. In his eye was a look that boded mischief. which were published in Harper's Magazine. say twenty? Must he write twenty consecutive sentences of the same pattern? On closer examination he will probably find that the difficulty is imaginary. My objections are. He published in Harper's Magazine three articles about his adventures in Spain. Wordsworth. This objection. however. in the fifth book of The Excursion. that it is unconstitutional. My objections are. It may be asked. is changed into steel. when treated in a Bessemer converter. that are related in thought. what if a writer needs to express a very large number of similar ideas. Cast iron. second. The writer must therefore. cast iron is changed into steel. that it is unconstitutional. does not usually hold when the order is interrupted only by a relative clause or by an expression in apposition. so far as possible. grandson of William Henry Harrison.It was both a long ceremony and very tedious. but for action Either you must grant his request or incur his ill will. He wrote three articles about his adventures in Spain. There was a look in his eye that boded mischief. 15 . and that he need apply the principle only within each group. first. gives a minute description of this church. In the fifth book of The Excursion. as a rule. be separated by a phrase or clause that can be transferred to the beginning. Nor does it hold in periodic sentences in which the interruption is a deliberately used means of creating suspense (see examples under Rule 18). that the measure is unjust. that his twenty ideas can be classified in groups. first. and keep apart those which are not so related. See also the third example under Rule 12 and the last under Rule 13. The objection is that the interposed phrase or clause needlessly interrupts the natural order of the main clause. You must either grant his request or incur his ill will. Otherwise he had best avoid the difficulty by putting his statements in the form of a table. Keep related words together. By treatment in a Bessemer converter. who became President in 1889. Wordsworth gives a minute description of this church. and groups of words. A time not for words.
Joyce will give in Bailey Hall a lecture on "My Experiences in Mesopotamia. who was regarded with hostility by the Whigs Modifiers should come. on "My Experiences in Mesopotamia" at eight P. they should be so arranged that no wrong relation is suggested. But whichever tense be used in the summary. If the antecedent consists of a group of words. his brother. M. meanwhile. or novel. who A noun in apposition may come between antecedent and relative. which has been variously judged A proposal. has been compelled to drink the potion on Tuesday night. if possible next to the word they modify. Joyce will give a lecture on Tuesday evening in Bailey Hall. the relative comes at the end of the group. 17. a past tense in indirect discourse or in indirect question remains unchanged. keep to one tense. antecedent action should be expressed by the perfect. he should preferably use the present. In summarizing the action of a drama. to amend the Sherman Act A proposal to amend the much-debated Sherman Act The grandson of William Henry Harrison. Benjamin Harrison. E. All the members were not present. Major R. who A proposal to amend the Sherman Act. In summaries. If the summary is in the present tense. The Superintendent of the Chicago Division. who William Henry Harrison's grandson. The Duke of York. if in the past. because in such a combination no real ambiguity can arise. with the result that Balthasar informs Romeo of her supposed death before Friar Lawrence learns of the nondelivery of the letter. On Tuesday evening at eight P. He became President in 1889. The Legate inquires who struck the blow. An unforeseen chance prevents Friar John from delivering Friar Lawrence's letter to Romeo.This is a portrait of Benjamin Harrison." The public is invited. unless this would cause ambiguity. M. by the past perfect. If several expressions modify the same word.. owing to her father's arbitrary change of the day set for her wedding. though he may use the past if he prefers. 16 . He found only two mistakes. Major R. grandson of William Henry Harrison. story. He only found two mistakes. Not all the members were present. to which the public is invited. which has been variously judged. In summarizing a poem. Juliet. E. the writer should always use the present tense.
that what follows is summary." or the like. and for children in primary schools it is a useful exercise to retell a story in their own words. but it has hardly advanced in fortitude. whichever tense the writer chooses. in handbooks of literature. Christopher Columbus. Humanity has hardly advanced in fortitude since that time. He should indicate clearly at the outset. as in summarizing an essay or reporting a speech. Because of its hardness. Place the emphatic words of a sentence at the end. The word or group of words entitled to this position of prominence is usually the logical predicate. one of the Italian mariners whom the decline of their own republics had put at the service of the world and of adventure. In notebooks. or group of words. 17 . he should use throughout. because of its hardness. this steel is principally used in making razors. Any element in the sentence. In presenting the statements or the thought of some one else. The proper place for the word. This steel is principally used for making razors." "the speaker added. But he should aim to write an orderly discussion supported by evidence. to devote yourselves unswervingly and unflinchingly to the vigorous and successful prosecution of this war. Four centuries ago. since that time. Deceit or treachery he could never forgive. laying aside all hindrance. though it has advanced in many other ways. The other prominent position in the sentence is the beginning.Apart from the exceptions noted." "the speaker then went on to say. as it is in the second example. the new element in the sentence. thrusting away all private aims." "he stated." "the author also thinks. With these hopes and in this belief I would urge you. He may find it necessary to devote one or two sentences to indicating the subject. in newspapers. which the writer desires to make most prominent is usually the end of the sentence. or the opening situation. he will as a rule do better not to take them up singly in chronological order. seeking for Spain a westward passage to the Indies as a set-off against the achievements of Portuguese discoverers. not a summary with occasional comment. but to aim from the beginning at establishing general conclusions. Shifting from one tense to the other gives the appearance of uncertainty and irresolution (compare Rule 15). But in the criticism or interpretation of literature the writer should be careful to avoid dropping into summary. he may cite numerous details to illustrate its qualities. summaries of one kind or another may be indispensable. becomes emphatic when placed first. has advanced in many other ways. and then waste no words in repeating the notification. lighted on America. once for all. of the work he is discussing. that is. Humanity. other than the subject. 18. the writer should avoid intercalating such expressions as "he said. Similarly. if the scope of his discussion includes a number of works. The effectiveness of the periodic sentence arises from the prominence which it gives to the main statement.
" Aristotle says. 1918 Chapter XII Rule 3 352d Infantry Parentheses. (When a wholly detached expression or sentence is parenthesized. The provision of the Constitution is: "No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any state. but not enclosed in quotation marks. I recall the maxim of La Rochefoucauld. Formal quotations. I went to his house yesterday (my third attempt to see him). A FEW MATTERS OF FORM Headings. IV. Numerals. Through the middle of the valley flowed a winding stream. On succeeding pages. fretted by the action of nearly three thousand years." Quotations of an entire line. the final stop comes before the last mark of parenthesis. to the sentences of a paragraph. like works of nature. but hardly by its position alone. and to the paragraphs of a composition. Leave a blank line. cited as documentary evidence. To receive special emphasis. or its equivalent in space. are introduced by a colon and enclosed in quotation marks.) Quotations. but he had left town. the fragments of this architecture may often seem. The expression within is punctuated as if it stood by itself. exactly as if the expression in parenthesis were absent.So vast and rude. The principle that the proper place for what is to be made most prominent is the end applies equally to the words of a sentence. A sentence containing an expression in parenthesis is punctuated. as may be appropriate. begin on the first line. at first sight. outside of the marks of parenthesis. of verse. Do not spell out dates or other serial numbers. August 9. Wordsworth's enthusiasm for the Revolution was at first unbounded: 18 . Write them in figures or in Roman notation. the subject of a sentence must take the position of the predicate. are begun on a fresh line and centred. He declares (and why should we doubt his good faith?) that he is now certain of success. if using ruled paper. In the sentence. after the title or heading of a manuscript. except that the final stop is omitted unless it is a question mark or an exclamation point. Great kings worshipped at his shrine." Quotations grammatically in apposition or the direct objects of verbs are preceded by a comma and enclosed in quotation marks. "Gratitude is a lively sense of benefits to come. "Art is an imitation of nature. A subject coming first in its sentence may be emphatic. the emphasis upon kings arises largely from its meaning and from the context. or more.
Hamlet is placed under guard (IV. 14). ii. He lives far from the madding crowd. giving the full forms in an alphabetical list at the end. In the second scene of the third act In III. Omit the words act. abbreviate titles that occur frequently. As illustrated under Feature." or "Go ahead. page. line. Idiomatic in familiar speech as a detached phrase in the sense. 2 Samuel i:17-27 Othello II.iii. III. simply insert III. scholarly usage prefers italics with capitalized initials. Whether is sufficient. V. For the titles of literary works. not in the body of the sentence. As to whether. or better (if not better). A Tale of Two Cities. Dicken's Tale of Two Cities. WORDS AND EXPRESSIONS COMMONLY MISUSED (Many of the words and expressions here listed are not so much bad English as bad style. "Agreed. truth beauty. the Odyssey. These are the times that try men's souls. except when referring by only one of them. the proper correction is likely to be not the replacement of one word or set of words by another. But to be young was very heaven! Quotations introduced by that are regarded as in indirect discourse and not enclosed in quotation marks.) All right. In scholarly work requiring exact references. My opinion is as good as his. Punctuate as indicated below. Keats declares that beauty is truth. As You Like It. The Iliad. Expressions of this type should be corrected by rearranging the sentence. 19 . some using italics with capitalized initials. except in writing for a periodical that follows a different practice.ii (still better. Always written as two words. give the references in parenthesis or in footnotes. see under Rule 13. scene. but the replacement of vague generality by definite statement. Use italics (indicated in manuscript by underscoring). book. As good or better than. The usage of editors and publishers varies.ii in parenthesis at the proper place in the sentence) After the killing of Polonius. Proverbial expressions and familiar phrases of literary origin require no quotation marks. the commonplaces of careless writing. others using Roman with capitalized initials and with or without quotation marks. To a Skylark. volume. My opinion is as good or better than his. As a general practice. The same is true of colloquialisms and slang. References." In other uses better avoided. The Newcomes. Omit initial A or The from titles when you place the possessive before them.iii 264-267.Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive. 155-161 Titles.
used from a mere habit of wordiness. It has rarely been the case that any mistake has been made. means lay claim to. trustworthy. With object-noun. Incorrectly used for through. because of. The Art of Writing. The Concise Oxford Dictionary begins its definition of this word: "instance of a thing's occurring. it is best restricted to ingenuity displayed in small matters. Case. as verb. A mannerism of this kind.Bid.) Not to be used as a substitute for declare. In many cases. music. Not followed by as when it means. Certainly. or charge. and Quiller-Couch." "subtle effects. "believe to be. Few mistakes have been made. and other arts: "an Oriental effect." "a charming effect was produced by. A needless substitute for reliable." where "considered" means "examined" or "discussed. See Wood. As noun. pp. between objects regarded as essentially of different order. which means "to influence"). Used indiscriminately by some speakers. the word is usually unnecessary. "The lecturer considered Cromwell first as soldier and second as administrator." Effect." "very delicate effects. Suggestions to Authors. to compare with is mainly to point out differences. "claimed to be" would be better. to a drama." Compare. to a battle." "losses due to preventable fires. accomplish (not to be confused with affect. Due to. 103-106. Clever. 68-71." (But even here. Takes the infinitive without to. the rooms were poorly ventilated. or owing to." In these two senses. May be used with a dependent clause if this sense is clearly involved: "He claimed that he was the sole surviving heir. As noun." Dependable. pp. Many of the rooms were poorly ventilated. vb." The writer who has a definite meaning to express will not take refuge in such vagueness. it may be compared with modern London. between objects regarded as essentially of the same order. maintain. usual state of affairs. Acts of a hostile character Hostile acts Claim." In correct use related as predicate or as modifier to a particular noun: "This invention is due to Edison. This word has been greatly overused. Paris has been compared to ancient Athens. Character. Often simply redundant." "I consider him thoroughly competent. to intensify any and every statement. bad in speech. Compare." "effects in pale green. Congress may be compared with the British Parliament. much as others use very. Consider. due to carelessness. means to bring about. in adverbial phrases: "He lost the first game. often loosely used in perfunctory writing about fashions. 20 . Thus life has been compared to a pilgrimage. To compare to is to point out or imply resemblances." "broad effects. is even worse in writing. means result. The past tense is bade. painting.
we at last succeeded in reaching camp.) As a verb. etc. however. Equivalent to and the rest. sang. Not to be used of persons. Heavy artillery is playing a larger and larger part in deciding battles. However discouraging the prospect. or any similar expression. On the formula the fact that. He is very ambitious. Colloquial in America for arrange. not of matters of judgment. however incontestable they may be. At last. Factor. Kind of. see under Rule 13. However. mend. Heavy artillery is becoming an increasingly important factor in deciding battles. His superior training was the great factor in his winning the match. make firm or immovable. we succeeded in reaching camp. When however comes first. Another hackneyed word.Etc. that is. not to come first in its sentence or clause. for something like (before nouns). or except in familiar style. The roads were almost impassable. However you advise him. A common type of redundant expression. and so forth. is incorrect. Use this word only of matters of a kind capable of direct verification. and hence not to be used if one of these would be insufficient. That a particular event happened on a given date. In writing restrict it to its literary senses. I have always wanted to visit Spain. Fact. the expressions of which it forms part can usually be replaced by something more direct and idiomatic. Fix. fasten. or that the climate of California is delightful. like factor it usually adds nothing to the sentence in which it occurs. Restrict it to its literal 21 . to tell something of how she sang. or if the programme has already been given. But such conclusions as that Napoleon was the greatest of modern generals. However. Not to be used as a substitute for rather (before adjectives and verbs). prepare. The roads were almost impassable. A feature of the entertainment especially worthy of mention was the singing of Miss A. Feature. if the reader would be left in doubt as to any important particulars. (Better use the same number of words to tell what Miss A. it means in whatever way or to whatever extent. that lead melts at a certain temperature. A hackneyed word. etc. he will probably do as he thinks best. see Rule 13. He is a man who. to be avoided. for example. are facts. Spain is a country which I have always wanted to visit. in the advertising sense of offer as a special attraction. he never lost heart. or immaterial words at the end of a quotation. He is a man who is very ambitious. In the meaning nevertheless. are not properly facts. At the end of a list introduced by such as. He won the match by being better trained. Least open to objection when it represents the last terms of a list already given in full.
B. the untracked wilderness. He is studying along the line of French literature. literally. Mr. Adverbial phrase. He is studying French literature. correct to say. B. thought. because of its commonness. a hundred. Most. used like character. the sunset. A literal flood of abuse A flood of abuse Literally dead with fatigue Almost dead with fatigue (dead tired) Lose out. sign up. rural life. Meant to be more emphatic than lose." "His troubles are fewer than mine" means "His troubles are not so numerous as mine. but has been so much overworked. Less refers to quantity. but actually less so. Often incorrectly used in support of exaggeration or violent metaphor. Less. also spoke. The same holds true of try out. Not to be used as an adjective." Unless more specific statements follow. however." It is. not yet fully accepted as good English. the reader cannot tell whether the poems have to do with natural scenery. Not to be used for almost. Most everybody Almost everybody Most all the time Almost all the time Nature. if not better. "His troubles are less than mine" means "His troubles are not so great as mine. He had fewer men than in the previous campaign. Lose out is not. conduct. that a writer who aims at freshness or originality had better discard it entirely. He had less men than in the previous campaign." "I dislike that kind of notoriety. Acts of a hostile nature Hostile acts Often vaguely used in such expressions as "a lover of nature. though the analogy of close by and hard by seems to justify it. cheer up. or near at hand. is as good. Should not be misused for fewer. register up. each distinguishable in meaning from the simple verb. out and up form idiomatic combinations: find out. Often simply redundant. Near by. use neighboring. or the habits of squirrels. Literal. also spoke along the same lines. to the same effect. fewer to number. With a number of verbs. "The signers of the petition were less than a hundred." The same holds true of sort of. is something like a collective noun. "where the round number. Line in the sense of course of procedure.sense: "Amber is a kind of fossil resin. 22 . dry up. Near. make up. Line. and less is thought of as meaning a less quantity or amount. and others. Mr. along these lines. win out. turn out. particularly in the phrase along these lines." "poems about nature. is allowable. run out.
Works of fiction are listed under the names of their authors. So." Not to be used for aspect or topic. See under Kind of. Another phase of the subject Another point (another question) Possess. He had great courage (was very brave). A needless and awkward expression. how many "people" would be left? Phase. no longer in good use. it is simply threadbare and forcible-feeble. Retain the and in this and similar expressions. From the people comes political support or opposition. Archaic forms. see Rule 4. He was the fortunate possessor of He owned Respective. Works of fiction are listed under the names of their respective authors. Avoid beginning essays or paragraphs with this formula. respectively. People. ofttimes." Student body. He possessed great courage. in place of persons. If of "six people" five went away." On the use of so to introduce clauses. A member of the student body A student 23 . the use of so as an intensifier: "so good. The one mile and two mile runs were won by Jones and by Cummings." "Switzerland is one of the most interesting countries of Europe. as. Not to be used as a mere substitute for have or own. remark. Means a stage of transition or development: "the phases of the moon.Oftentimes. as. The people is a political term. "One of the most interesting developments of modern science is. meaning no more than the simple word students. The word people is not to be used with words of number. it may be necessary to use respectively. Not to be used as a mere substitute for say.. Restrict it to the sense of express fully or clearly. "He refused to state his objections." "so warm. in accordance with the unvarying usage of English prose from Old English times. as in geometrical proofs. Sort of. from the public comes artistic appreciation or commercial patronage. not to be confused with the public. in writing." There is nothing wrong in this. In some kinds of formal writing." "so delightful. One of the most. These words may usually be omitted with advantage. The one mile and two mile runs were won by Jones and Cummings respectively." "the last phase. Avoid. One hundred and one. State. but it should not appear in writing on ordinary subjects. The modern word is often. etc.
Some bashful speakers even say. each one. "It will not be worth my while to write to you again. everybody." Use he with all the above words. but. This sounds as if the writer meant. Dayton has adopted government by commission. any one. Its use as a virtual equivalent of although is allowable in sentences where this leads to no ambiguity or absurdity. The office and salesrooms are on the ground floor. "Thanking you. many a man. Similar to this. somebody. The dormitory system Dormitories Thanking you in advance. use words strong in themselves. as shown by the paraphrase. etc." or to avoid committing oneself to either. "A friend of mine told me that they. but do not misuse this. Although the temperature reaches 90 or 95 degrees in the daytime. some one. every one. The paraphrase. Many writers use it frequently as a substitute for and or but." and if the favor which you have requested is granted. While. The office and salesrooms are on the ground floor. the intention being either to avoid the awkward "he or she. Viewpoint. Dayton has adopted the commission system of government. either from a mere desire to vary the connective. Frequently used without need. the nights are often chilly. is the use of the plural pronoun with the antecedent anybody. In this use it is best replaced by a semicolon. While I admire his energy. which. I wish it were employed in a better cause. The students passed resolutions. write a letter of acknowledgment.Popular with the student body Liked by the students The student body passed resolutions. and although. as many do. Where emphasis is necessary. A common inaccuracy is the use of the plural pronoun when the antecedent is a distributive expression such as each. Compare: While the temperature reaches 90 or 95 degrees in the daytime. but with even less justification. requires the pronoun to be in the singular. I admire his energy. though implying more than one person. They. 24 . System. Very. the nights are often chilly. This is entirely correct. or from uncertainty which of the two connectives is the more appropriate. unless the antecedent is or must be feminine." Simply write. the rest of the building is devoted to manufacturing. at the same time I wish it were employed in a better cause. for view or opinion. while the rest of the building is devoted to manufacturing. Write point of view. Use this word sparingly. Avoid the indiscriminate use of this word for and.
Overworked as a term of vague approval and (with not) of disapproval. the writer will do well to use while only with strict literalness. and from its brevity. not would. His brother. Would. in the sense of during the time that. Often incorrectly used for who before he said or similar expressions. not would. In general. Once a year he visited the old mansion. A conditional statement in the first person requires should. shows why the use of while is incorrect. without would. when it is really the subject of a following verb. the past tense. whom he said would send him the money His brother. WORDS OFTEN MISSPELLED accidentally advice affect beginning believe benefit challenge criticize deceive definite describe despise formerly humorous hypocrisy immediately incidentally latter led lose marriage mischief murmur necessary privilege pursue repetition rhyme rhythm ridiculous sacrilegious seize separate shepherd siege similar 25 . He predicted that before long we should have a great surprise. The equivalent of shall in indirect quotation after a verb in the past tense is should. Once a year he would visit the old mansion. I should not have succeeded without his help.The temperature reaches 90 or 95 degrees in the daytime. The use of worth while before a noun ("a worth while story") is indefensible. His books are not worth reading (not worth one's while to read. Strictly applicable only to actions: "Is it worth while to telegraph?" His books are not worth while. who he said would send him the money The man whom he thought was his friend The man who (that) he thought was his friend (whom he thought his friend) Worth while. VI. is usually sufficient. at the same time the nights are often chilly. Whom. do not repay reading). more emphatic. To express habitual or repeated action.
every one. to-night. Write any one. to-morrow (but not together) with hyphen. some one. 26 .develop disappoint duel ecstasy effect existence fiery occurred parallel Philip playwright preceding prejudice principal simile too tragedy tries undoubtedly until Write to-day. some time (except the sense of formerly) as two words.
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