We have a special top-10 post to celebrate the end of the year, and—before you argue—read the whole explanation about why each of these below is a myth.
Grammar Girl’s Top 10 Language Myths:
10. A run-on sentence is a really long sentence. Wrong! They can actually be quite short. In a run-on sentence, independent clauses are squished together without the help of punctuation or a conjunction. If you write “I am short he is tall,” as one sentence without a semicolon, colon, or dash between the two independent clauses, it’s a run-on sentence even though it only has six words.
9. You shouldn’t start a sentence with the word “however.” Wrong! It’s fine to start a sentence with “however” so long as you use a comma after it when it means “nevertheless.”
8. “Irregardless” is not a word. Wrong! “Irregardless” is a bad word and a word you shouldn’t use, but it is a word. “Floogetyflop” isn’t a word—I just made it up and you have no idea what it means. “Irregardless,” on the other hand, is in almost every dictionary labeled as nonstandard. You shouldn’t use it if you want to be taken seriously, but it has gained wide enough use to qualify as a word. (See episode 94 for more details.)
7. There is only one way to write the possessive form of a word that ends in “s.” Wrong! It’s a style choice. For example, in the phrase “Kansas’s statute,” you can put just an apostrophe at the end of “Kansas” or you can put an apostrophe “s” at the end of “Kansas.” Both ways are acceptable.
6. Passive voice is always wrong. Wrong! Passive voice is when you don’t name the person who’s responsible for the action. An example is the sentence “Mistakes were made,” because it doesn’t say who made the mistakes. If you don’t know who is responsible for an action, passive voice can be the best choice.
Covering the grammar rules and word choice guidelines that can confound even the best writers, Grammar Girl makes complex grammar questions simple with memory tricks to help you recall and apply those troublesome grammar rules.