The Get It Write Philosophy
Much of this site is devoted to addressing issues of grammar, mechanics, and usage. As with any such resource, certain values and beliefs about language underpin the content of these pages, and I believe visitors deserve to know those values:
Whether we like this fact or not, the world is full of people who will judge those whose writing does not reflect what they consider to be standard English. Knowing that most people have had very little formal instruction about grammar, mechanics, and usage, I delight in providing clear and easy-to-understand explanations that do not oversimplify complex issues. I try to avoid making blanket declarations about what writers should always or never do and instead endeavor to provide writers with a full range of thoughts on a topic. Armed with good information, writers can make stylistic decisions based on their particular writing context(s). That said, the wise writer avoids surface errors that might distract a reader and that can undermine—however unfairly—the writer’s credibility.
Languages are dynamic; they change. The rules that govern the use of language, therefore, also change. I celebrate those changes while recognizing that not everyone does. I also recognize that in high-stakes writing situations (a cover letter for a job, for example, or a contract or a brief), sometimes it’s best for writers to play by the rules that many people think are important— even if we suspect they are no longer (or never were) relevant.
Many so-called (and highly revered) “rules” are, in fact, shibboleths: they are used by those who consider themselves “in the know” to make an arrogant and unfounded claim of superiority over those who are not privy to the same depth of knowledge about those rules. Other so-called “rules” are not, in fact, rules at all but matters of style that vary from one discipline or context to another. (See my blog post on style manuals.) Still others are made up; they are merely myths that have been passed along as truth for so long that they have become entrenched. (“Never start a sentence with and, but, or because,” for example, or “never split an infinitive.” Poppycock and balderdash!)
Those of you who have been following this site since it began 30 years ago will no doubt notice that I am—at long last—attempting to monetize this site in the hopes of one day being able to retire. I hope the ads and the “buy me a coffee” icons aren’t too annoying. When I win the lottery, the first thing I will do is get rid of the ads.
* * *
I welcome respectful and informed debate and challenges to statements made on this site, and I am always open to amending or even deleting a post—especially if I am convinced that it is (however unintentionally) advancing a shibboleth or overlooking an important part of the bigger picture.
We are all learning, and it is my hope that this site can be a place that inspires lively and helpful discussion.