Pet peeves

Three linguistic pet peeves:

  • Using quotation marks to provide emphasis. Why do people do this? Quotes are for verbatim transcriptions of speech or writing, or to uniquely identify a specific phrase or word (as demonstrated in the following item). If you feel you must show emphasis in your writing, use underlining, boldface, or italics. Or, if you aspire to even higher echelons of writing quality, find a way to show emphasis through word choice and arrangement.
  • Prefixing the last item in a list with the word “even.” This should only be done if there is some sort of poignancy or amazement value that you wish to underscore in the last list item. If the last list item doesn’t stand out any more than any of the other list items do, don’t prefix it with “even.”
  • Passive voice. There are some work related tasks which require me to write passively. I hate it. It goes against everything I’ve ever been taught about writing.
  • I don’t know why this bee is in my bonnet today. I know that my own writing isn’t perfect. For example, I tend to start sentences with conjunctions (in my defence, though, I see this done in the New York Times almost every day). And I sometimes end sentences with prepositions (as my sister pointed out to me yesterday).


    2 Responses

    1. The biggest “peeve” ingrained in me is nonusage of subjunctive, even.

    2. Well done, Pamela! Well done.

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