The Better English tag features articles that mention ways to improve your English grammar, punctuation, spelling, syntax and comprehension.

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Can you work this out?

Here’s a quick puzzle for you to test your English. Can you work it out?

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Badly Constructed English Sentences

Theatre masks badly constructed english

We talk a lot about English, context for translation and clear communication on our blog.

On the funnier side of things, badly constructed English can lead to some comical misinterpretations. If you carefully listen to people talking you will hear many silly comments. You’ll nearly always know what they mean, but it’s not what they say, it’s how they say it.

Yesterday, I was listening to a lady on the radio discussing her morning working on the family farm and managing her children. She came out with this very simple sentence: “When I get up in the morning, I feed the chickens and my kids and then I take them to school“. We know what she meant, but the image of her bringing the “chickens and kids” to school makes us giggle.

Groucho Marx used this type of English misinterpretation to his advantage in a joke used to positive effect in his famous one-liners: “I once shot an elephant in my pajamas. What he was doing in my pajamas I’ll never know!

Got any funny misinterpretations you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below.

The STAR Team

Rules for improving your English

I had a quick read through The Irish Independent and I came across an interesting article on William Safire’s rules for improving your English. William Safire writes columns for the New York Times and in one of those columns he drew up a list of rules for writers. Each rule is self-contradictory, That is, it violates the thing it tells the reader to avoid. Here are some that have stood the test of time.

Rules for improving your english!

  1. A preposition is something never to end a sentence with.
  2. Avoid run-on sentences they are hard to read.
  3. Don’t use no double negatives.
  4. Use the semicolon properly, always use it where it is appropriate; and never where it isn’t
  5. Reserve the apostrophe for its proper use and omit it when its not needed
  6. Proofread carefully to see if you words out.
  7. Avoid commas, that are not necessary
  8. Don’t over use exclamation marks!!!
  9. Hyphenate between sy-?llables and avoid un-necessary hyphens.
  10. Write all adverbial forms correct.
  11. Don’t use contractions in formal writing.
  12. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
  13. Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
  14. Never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
  15. “Avoid overuse of ‘quotation “marks.””
  16. Avoid clichés like the plague; They’re old hat; seek viable alternatives
  17. Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
  18. Don’t be redundant; don’t use more words then necessary; it’s highly superfluous.
  19. Be more or less specific.
  20. capitalise every sentence and remember always end it with a full stop

Everyday vs Every Day

Everyday and every day are frequently confused in English. Here is a short explanation of the difference between the two:

Everyday vs Every day

Everyday (adjective) means ordinary or normal.

-She chose to wear her everyday clothes to the funeral.

Every day (determiner + noun)  means “each day.”

-He is late for work every day.