Saturday… Just Saying 11/3/2012

11. Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.

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. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.

15. Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns
in their writing.

16. Always pick on the correct idiom.

17. The adverb always follows the verb.

18. Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague; seek viable alternatives.

19. Never use a preposition to end a sentence with.

20. Avoid annoying alliteration.

William Safire, 1929 – 2009

William Lewis Safire was an American author, columnist, journalist, and presidential speechwriter. He was best known as a political columnist for the New York Times and for his column On Language in the New York Times Magazine. He was also the author of the novels, Scandalmonger, Sleeper Spy, Freedom: A Novel of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War, and Full Disclosure.

Safire’s Rules from:
Original Image of Safire from:

Leave a comment


  1. KW

     /  11/03/2012

    Are you sure this guy is a writer and not an English teacher? locution???

  2. Indeed. Sad thing is, many editors reject manuscripts using that “English teacher ruler”. I think most reader’s care more about the quality of the story than locutions or hair splitting grammar rules.

    I admit I didn’t “get” number 14. Your comment made me look it up; now I get it 🙂
    Locution: noun
    1. a particular form of expression; a word, phrase, expression, or idiom, especially as used by a particular person, group, etc.
    2. a style of speech or verbal expression; phraseology.


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