None of us are perfect but….

Do not be hectoring or arrogant. Those who disagree with you are not necessarily stupid or insane. Nobody needs to be described as silly: let your analysis show that he is. When you express opinions, do not simply make assertions. The aim is not just to tell readers what you think, but to persuade them; if you use arguments, reasoning and evidence, you may succeed. Go easy on the oughts and shoulds. ( Telling people they are talking nonsense is a bit of a turn off; and does not further the debate.)

Do not be too pleased with yourself. Don’t boast of your own cleverness by telling readers that you correctly predicted something or that you have a scoop. You are more likely to bore or irritate them than to impress them.

Do not be too chatty. Surprise, surprise is more irritating than informative. So is Ho, ho, etc.  ( Hmm, don’t agree with this one at all, but I suppose it wouldn’t go down too well on the Economist)

Do not be too didactic. If too many sentences begin Compare, Consider, Expect, Imagine, Look at, Note, Prepare for, Remember or Take, readers will think they are reading a textbook (or, indeed, a style book).

Yikes:  I think I am doing it all wrong!

18 thoughts on “None of us are perfect but….”

  1. let your analysis show that “HE” is? 🙂

    Oh yeah, trust a woman to sublimely throw in the “HE” bit in the most casual of manners, followed by such words as …..

    “persuade,reasoning,evidence,cleverness, bore, irritate, impress, chatty, irritating, informative, didactic,compare,consider, expect, imagine” 🙂

    Crickey, Minty, you just killed my manhood with all those big words. But why so many when you only needed to use just the one……

    “WOMAN!!!” 🙂

  2. All excellent advice, especially this:

    ••He or she which hath no stomach to this fight,

    ••Let him or her depart; his or her passport shall be made,

    ••And crowns for convoy put into his or her purse:

    ••We would not die in that person’s company

    ••That fears his or her fellowship to die with us.

  3. Ara; I’m sure I should take note of every single one!
    Although…um, the last one, re being didactic, is contradictory. T

  4. Oops don’t know how that happened. Was going to say…the patterning of imperatives ‘Do not’ etc and negative constructions mean that it is largely didactic and reveals a somewhat old fashioned lexis, while the minor sentences and colloquialisms are more modern.
    Where is it from? Did you write it? Good mind to let my sixth formers loose on it for a spot of linguistic analysis!
    I’ll shut up now!

  5. No, I didn’t write it, Claire. If you follow the link at the end in blue, you will see that it is a part of a whole lot of equally wonderful hints and tips for those who write for the Economist! If you have no desire to do so, then I reckon it can safely be ignored. 🙂

    IS: it is obviously distinctly biased; had I written it, I still would have used “He” though!

  6. Bravo: yes, it is. I particularity enjoyed the author including examples of how not to do it, from the pages of the Economist!

  7. Ha, look who’s here, welcome back, I trust you had a good trip, look forward to hearing about it.

  8. Hello Sipu: good to see you back.

    Either is correct, I believe. It is not necessary to use the singular with none. I think that “none of us is perfect” sounds a bit odd. I am not an expert on matters of syntax though. Bearsy is probably jet-lagged, so he hasn’t rushed in to correct it. He normally does if he spots a major grammatical blunder on my posts.

  9. Hello boys and girls and thank you. I am in Harare at the moment, having a fabulous time. Heading back to SA next week and back home in CT by the beginning of June; I hope. I will write about my adventures.

    Araminta, ‘none’ is a concatenation of ‘not one’ and therefore takes the singular. The use of the plural form may be common, but it is incorrect. But do not worry about it; I only picked it up because of the context.

  10. Looking forward to hearing about your adventure, Sipu.

    Regarding the syntax; I’ve just consulted an expert and his opinion is thus:

    ‘None of us are perfect’ is fine, in my opinion. Fowler’s Modern English Usage starts a long entry on ‘none’ with ‘It is a mistake to suppose that the pronoun is singular only and must at all costs be followed by singular verbs or pronouns.’
    It finishes with: ‘Verdict: use a singular verb where possible but if the notion of plurality is present a plural verb has been optional since the OE period and in some circumstances is desirable.’

  11. Ironically, I broke every single one of these rules with my last comment…
    Ah well. Teachers…

  12. Yup, Ara!
    One has to get one’s kicks somehow…
    Told you I was obsessed with the linguistics thingy. I’m turning into a trainspotter. minus the anorak

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