Tag Archives: grammar

Why get pedantic about “incorrect” English?

poor preposition choiceAs copywriters, it’s our prerogative to pick holes in language use, often overly so. Ranting about an insignificant grammar rule, fuming at unoriginal adjectives, these are the things that we could go to war over. The problem is, many of these issues don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. I saw the sign to the left at St Pancras a few days ago and momentarily scoffed – what, as opposed to the lift without heavy luggage? Rue this careless copywriter, leaving room for ambiguity, right? Actually, no, more rue me – wasting my time deriding this kind of thing. Tens of thousands of people see this every day and I very much doubt a single person has been confused by this sign. Continue reading

Disappearing down the grammar hole

english grammar ebookEager readers of Copywrite Now may be wondering where I’ve been lately. Run out of adverts to analyse and copy to ponder over? Kicking back on a beach somewhere far afield? Not exactly. About a year ago I started work on a brief English grammar guide for foreign students, planned to be some 14 pages or so long. In the past month or two I knuckled down to finally finishing it, at about ten times that initial length. Such is the nature of the ever-evolving beast that is English grammar. On top of that, my freelancing efforts have been channelled increasingly into the full-time realm, as I’ve taken up a mobile app project that’s quickly becoming a serious business. But that’s a story for another day.  Continue reading

What makes grammar boring?

what makes grammar boringOne of my earliest memories of being aware of the concept of grammar is an ill-fated English lesson in secondary school, where my teacher opened the class by saying “Now I’m sorry, but we have to cover some grammar today.” Having had the subject introduced like that, it felt perfectly natural to oblige him with a loud groan of disappointment, inspiring a few cheap chuckles from around the class. He quickly countered, though, “Fine, Phil, if it’s so boring then how about you tell the class what a preposition is.”

No one had ever taught me what a preposition was, so of course I looked like a fool for mocking the noble virtues of a grammar class. To this day I feel I was unjustly chastised; sure, I didn’t know what a preposition was, but to be honest I wasn’t too sure what grammar was either. I had groaned because the way he’d brought it up made it sound like it warranted a groan. And that’s a fundamental problem in the way we understand grammar. It’s presented as a dull set of tools, so we grow up believing it’s boring. Continue reading

What does your choice of tense say about you?

effective reflective writing, tensesMaking your point in as few words as possible is not all about choosing the right words. One area worth paying particular attention to is choosing the right tense. With a cover letter, a CV, a service history, and even with parts of a product description, you need to tell a story, no matter how short – and your choice of tense can greatly impact the meaning of your tale. Continue reading

Back to basics: all the English tenses

English tenses

Pursuing one of my other ventures, tutoring English, I’ve decided to combine my copywriting and teaching experience to produce a few simple English grammar guides. These guides are designed for foreign learners of English, but I wanted to share the first thing I produced, a tenses infographic, to discuss how the different English tenses work. Continue reading