English ... and how I'd change it

This page presents my thoughts on issues with the English language.

Weird Punctuation

Instead of writing The title of the book is "Bad Rules."  write The title of the book is "Bad Rules".  Note the location of the period. The rules of English say the period belongs inside the quotes. Why? The title of the book doesn't contain a period in it and what is inside the quotes should to be the title of the book. Rebel! Don't follow this English rule!

Wasteful Words

Write what you mean in as few words as possible.

Instead of writing Tell me whether or not you like cheese. , just write Tell me whether you like cheese.  We all know there's a possibility you don't like cheese. That's why we're asking.

Instead of writing The walls are two different colors.  write The walls are two colors.  Nobody will think it's possible you meant the walls are two colors that are blue and blue.

Instead of writing The colors of apples, bananas and grapes are typically red, yellow and green, respectively.  leave off , respectively  Who in their right mind would change the order?


Using gender specific pronouns like "he" and "she" ruffle feathers when there is no reason to specify a particular gender. Many people try be politically correct by alternativing between them. English rules say you shouldn't use a generic word like "them" or "they". I say do it anyway. Instead of writing When an employee is feeling angry, tell her to take a walk around the building. , write When an employee is feeling angry, tell them to take a walk around the building.