On Passive-Aggressive Wikipedia Edits

The silly but much-cherished rule of never using the grammatical passive in writing has bred some strange notions of what exactly the passive is. To some, “passive” apparently means “any construction that twists the grammar of a sentence so badly that it sounds instinctively wrong to just about everyone.” That would certainly seem to be […]

When to Use the Passive Voice

“Never use the passive where you can use the active.” — George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language” “Don’t use the passive voice” has attained the status of divine commandment in the minds of some editors and writers. As with so many supposed rules of good grammar, however, “No passives” is too general and, followed […]

Common Errors in Writing: The Dangling Participle

Dangling participles have, in my opinion, at least two major claims to infamy. First, the phrase is by far the funniest in the writing and editing rulebook. Whenever I hear or read it, I want to say, “Don’t look now, but your participles are dangling.”┬áSecond, dangling participles are perhaps the most common grammatical error I […]