The running machine is where I catch up on what’s hot and what’s not in the music world. I’m afraid the grammar geek in me couldn’t get over one lyric this morning. Great new song by Ramz – “Barking”. But his line “7 a.m. in the morning”… When else could 7 a.m. be? He could so easily have changed it to “7 o’clock in the morning”…
I’m a big fan of putting a comma before “and” when it helps the reader and adds clarity. I read this in Metro yesterday:
“They needed a flat that was affordable but also within easy reach of work and Lewisham, with a DLR station, was perfect.”
With no comma after “and“, most of us will read “within easy reach of work and Lewisham“, get confused, and have to re-read it to make sense of it. A comma before the “and” would have solved the problem and made our lives easier.
What is the Oxford comma? It’s where, in a list of three or more items, you put a comma after the second-last item and before the “and“:
“Apples, bananas, and pears“.
Mostly you don’t need it, but occasionally it’s useful:
“I shop at Sainsbury’s, Marks and Spencer, and Lidl.” [I know that in reality M&S has an ampersand.]
The Americans are generally less keen than we are on the Oxford comma. Indeed the Maine Legislative Drafting Manual instructs lawmakers not to use it. But three truck drivers in Portland, Maine have just won a case in the appeal court that may cost Oakhurst Dairy millions of dollars in a dispute over overtime, just because of the lack of an Oxford comma.
People often use “they” as a way of avoiding saying “he/she”. I tend to duck the issue by using the plural:
If a lawyer wants to take annual leave, he/she must complete a form. [cumbersome]
If a lawyer wants to take annual leave, they must complete a form. [simpler]
Lawyers wanting to take annual leave must complete a form. [I prefer this.]
Lorraine Berry argues that using “they” will help counter sexism:
I’m relieved to have managed full marks on a sample test on the new Key Stage 2 English grammar, punctuation and spelling curriculum. Having spent hours training well educated, intelligent lawyers in the basics of apostrophes, hyphens and commas, I’m all in favour of teaching G&P at school. But I wonder whether primary school children really need to know the difference between a subordinating conjunction and a co-ordinating conjunction… Here’s the sample test: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/439299/Sample_ks2_EnglishGPS_paper1_questions.pdf
And here’s the mark scheme:
Anyone drafting liquidated damages clauses should read the Supreme Court’s judgments in the El Makdessi and ParkingEye cases published today, which should make it easier to ensure that these clauses are watertight (see https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/uksc-2013-0280.html). A seven-judge Supreme Court found the disputed clauses in each case to be valid.
The court upheld the existence of the penalty rule but arguably reduced its scope, finding the concept of a “genuine pre-estimate of loss” to be unhelpful. The true test should now be whether the disputed contractual term is a secondary obligation that imposes a detriment on the contract-breaker that is disproportionate to any legitimate interest of the innocent party in enforcing the primary obligation. In El Makdessi the two disputed clauses were primary obligations and thus not penal. In ParkingEye, the charge levied on overstaying motorists, although high, was not penal for a number of reasons including the fact that it enabled the company to manage the car park efficiently for the benefit of shops, shoppers and motorists.
Grammar’s in the news again:
The first winner of The Idler Academy’s Bad Grammar Award was a group of professors and other educators who wrote an open letter in March this year criticising the revised national curriculum. Unfortunately their letter was disappointingly poorly written.
Tesco was runner-up. I wasn’t surprised given the sign I spotted in my local Tesco recently:
“100’s of new products added to our meat, fish and poultry range, in-store now.”
See how you do at the Guardian’s own grammar test:
Marvellous April Fools’ Day article by The Lawyer magazine!
The following paragraph is full of grammatical, punctuation and other writing errors. See how many you can spot!
“The Board of Electra Ltd. are liasing with their largest creditor in an attempt to set-off there debts from trading in CD’s and DVD’s. Carl Potter, Licenced Insolvency Practitioner, says that “Setting-off debts is a complex area, all in house lawyers should be aware of the rules which can effect the way organizations do business. Many of the relevant Insolvency Rules date back to the mid 1980’s. He acknowleges that less and less people can handle this sort of dispute without expert advise, and that now is the time when experience is needed. “A company that isnt watching it’s back at the moment is a brave one; most realise that they have no choice but to carefully manage their cashflow. Companies want to avoid winding-up proceedings at all costs,” he adds. “Losing you’re business to your creditors with only a few weeks notice must be a businesses worst nightmare.”.
If you’d like to know the answers, please contact us via the Contact page and we’ll email them to you.
Thank goodness Mid Devon Council have seen sense over their plans to banish all punctuation, including the apostrophe, in their street names. I was gearing up for a rant in this week’s news item but now I can calm down and think of something more exciting to write about instead.
This week I read an interesting article from the Harvard Business Review about the importance of correct grammar and punctuation when job-hunting. I have to say that I agree with the writer (as long as the candidate has all the other necessary skills as well, including emotional intelligence in particular). I was surprised by the torrent of comments, many of them disagreeing vehemently. See what you think!
I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here’s Why. – Harvard Business Review