Should You Worry about These Errors? Part 2

I’m working my way through 17 grammar errors that Bill Murphy Jr. thinks we can stop worrying about.

6. Irregardless
Bill got this one right – and wrong. Irregardless is okay in casual settings, but you shouldn’t use it in professional writing. And he missed the mark when he described it as “technically not a word.” Of course it’s a word!

Look up the definition of “word” in a dictionary. Any group of letters or sounds with a consistent meaning is a word.

What Murphy meant was that “irregardless” is a nonstandard word.

Murphy makes another error when he declares no decent person would correct you. (I’ll skip the vulgarism he used.) If you’re an editor, you have my permission to go ahead and correct it.

7. Further versus farther
I not only agree with Murphy – I’d go a step further. Nobody cares which one you use. Attempts to give them different meanings fall apart very quickly. Stop worrying about this one!

8. Me versus I
Murphy made me happy when he explained this with a shortcut that I’ve been teaching my students for 40 years (with no need for grammar gobbledygook). Remove the other person from the sentence and see whether “I” or “me” still makes sense:

Greg helped me with the report.  CORRECT

Greg helped Donna and me with the report.  CORRECT

Again, though, I disagree that you shouldn’t correct this error. Isn’t that what editors are paid to do?

9. One or two spaces after a period
Murphy thinks this battle isn’t worth fighting. I do. Professionals don’t expect other people to clean up after them. If you’re getting paid for your writing, someone else is going to have to remove those unwanted spaces. Even worse, you’re going to come across like a dinosaur.

Professionals respect their equipment and use it properly.

10. Em-dash overuse
Here’s Murphy’s position: “As far as I’m concerned, there’s no such thing as em dash overuse. I understand that other punctuation might often be more technically correct, but I think of it as all-purpose punctuation that fits the way people read today.”

All I can add here is – hooray! I love dashes. Bring ’em on! (If you’re wondering what an “em-dash” is, I used to be bothered by that too – but now I know what they are. And I just typed one for you.)

I’ll do 11 -17 in a future post (and I’ll add a gripe or two). 

Rules spelled out with an unstable stack of blocks


One thought on “Should You Worry about These Errors? Part 2

  1. Pingback: Should You Worry about These Errors? Part 3 - Write with Jean

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