Advice to Ignore

Instant Quiz

Can you correct the error in the sentence below? Scroll to the bottom of today’s post for the answer.

After studing for three hours, I was ready for a break.


In the last couple of weeks I’ve come across the same bad writing advice twice. What’s really interesting is that the contexts were different.

Here’s the bad advice:

1. You should avoid semicolons because they don’t indicate the relationship between the two ideas. (This is Michael Kinsley’s position) 

2.  You should avoid dashes because they don’t indicate the relationship between the two ideas. (This is Lionel Shriver’s position.)

Bosh! Our brains are perfectly capable of figuring out those relationships. In fact our brains enjoy doing that. It’s more active and interesting than just imbibing information.

Take a look at these two sentences:

We enjoyed our visit; Susan is a wonderful hostess.

Raindrops began to fall – we needed to hurry.

No one could miss the connections between those pairs of ideas. We enjoyed the visit because Susan is such a good hostess. We had to hurry because we didn’t want to get wet.

Why not simply use “because,” then? The answer is sentence variety. You don’t want to keep using the same sentence pattern over and over – a string of because sentences, for example.

A red pencil and the words right and wrong


Short Pencil Point Deviant Art ok

Instant Quiz ANSWER

Studying requires a “y” at the end:

After studying for three hours, I was ready for a break.  CORRECT

What Your English Teacher Didn’t Tell You is available in paperback and Kindle formats from and other online booksellers.
“A useful resource for both students and professionals” – Jena L. Hawk, Ph.D., Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College

“Personable and readable…Jean knows her subject forwards and backwards.” – Adair Lara, author of Hold Me Close, Let Me Go


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