How to Write Correctly Without Knowing All the Rules

by John Clayton

You’re writing a report about a visit to an affiliate office, and you type the sentence “Everyone here, even she, believes her data are flawed.” You pause. Should that be “even her”? It doesn’t sound right, but you can’t put your finger on why. Stopping to ponder it, and perhaps to consult a grammar book, you lose your train of thought. You soon start wondering if “believes” should be “believe” and if “data are” should be “data is.” Every such mental debate chips away at your productivity—and your confidence in your writing.

It’s a dilemma: Poor writing sends a bad message to readers, but you don’t have time to wrestle with all the complexities of grammar and usage.

The more ...

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