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Top-Five Writing Myths That Should Be Exploded Actually

Updated on September 3, 2016

There are countless advices on 'how to write'. Some writers follow the writing style on which some purists may frown. But, nevertheless, they are happy the way they write. I recall some lines from the famous book The Element of Style by Strunk Jr., William:

"It is an old observation that the best writers sometimes disregard the rules of rhetoric. When they do so, however, the reader will usually find in the sentence some compensating merit, attained at the cost of violation."

I do agree with these lines. You can take a bit liberty in digressing the rules if your sentences are creating a magic. However, the basic rules of rhetoric must be followed. If it is a formal document, it is advisable that you should stick to the rules.

There are many myths existed in writing. And we follow them out of habit. In this hub, I will discuss five, the most common writing myths.

Beginning a Sentence with 'But'

This is one of most common myths that you must not start a sentence with 'But'. Even some purists give emphasis on not to start a sentence with 'And' as well. So far as English grammar is concerned, it is accepted to start sentences with 'But'.

Renowned grammarian J.C. Nesfield says:

"...it is convenient for the sake of brevity to say that 'a conjunction joins words to words, and sentences to sentences'. But this is not enough for the purpose of definition."

Ernest Hemingway, Nobel prize winner American novelist often wrote sentences starting with 'And'.

" But I killed the shark that hit my fish, he thought. And he was the biggest dentuso that I have ever seen. And God knows that I have seen big ones."

The aforesaid lines have been quoted from his magnum opus ' The Old Man and The Sea'. These lines would lose rhythm and magic if you remove 'and'.

Not to begin sentences with 'but' or 'and' is nothing but a myth. In fact, you can start a sentence with any word so long the sentence hangs together as a complete statement.

Image courtesy: http://www.rage3d.com/
Image courtesy: http://www.rage3d.com/

Placing a Comma Before 'And'

Many folks insist that one should not place a comma before 'and'. It is not necessary to do so. But a comma before 'and' adds more clarity.

  • Ram ate an apple, a mango and bread and butter in the breakfast today.
  • Ram ate an apple, a mango, and bread and butter in the breakfast.

Between these two sentences, the second sentence is clearer. You can also refer to the aforesaid example of Nesfield.

Image courtesy: boggletondrive.com
Image courtesy: boggletondrive.com

Ending a Sentence with a Preposition

You will come across some purists who don't like to end a sentence with a preposition. They find it ungrammatical. However, it is perfectly alright to end a sentence with a preposition.

  • I don't have anyone to play with.
  • I wondered where she has come from.

There is nothing to be frightened of.These sentences are grammatically correct, and will lose rhythm if you remove preposition.

Image courtesy: blogs.telegraph.co.uk
Image courtesy: blogs.telegraph.co.uk

Sentence with a Split Infinitive

A split infinitive is putting a word between 'to' and 'verb' word. Many purists emphasize that one should not use a split infinitive. If you think a sentence will be clearer and rhythmical after a split infinitive, go ahead. There is no grammatical rule that won't allow it.

The following sentences are absolutely correct:

  • I was asked to carefully fill the form.
  • She seems to really like it.

One thing you should be careful about is the gap between 'to' and verb. If the gap is more, readers may lose the track.

One Sentence Paragraph

There is no rule about it. If your one sentence has expressed the idea, and you want to start with another idea, write a new paragraph. However, don't try to overuse it. Your writing should be a mix of short and long paragraphs. This will make it more aesthetically appealing.


Thanks for reading it. Feel free to share your candid thoughts.

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    • threekeys profile image

      Threekeys 20 months ago from Australia

      I'm guilty guilty of doing all these things! Enjoyed the read!

    • sandeep15r profile image
      Author

      Sandeep Rathore 20 months ago from New Delhi

      Thanks MizBejabbers for sharing your thought!

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      MizBejabbers 20 months ago

      This is a great hub, Sandeep, and I agree with you all the way. I am a legislative legal editor, and in my work, we usually have to stick to the rules, but in my less formal writing, I am guilty of breaking them all. We always use the Oxford comma in our legal documents because when an attorney goes to court he has to know such details as how many dishes did the person have for breakfast: grits, ham and eggs (2) or grits, ham, and eggs (3).

    • shanmarie profile image

      shanmarie 21 months ago

      Hahaha. Good to know those are only myths, because if not, I break the rules all the time! I like a little variety and rhythm.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 22 months ago from Oakley, CA

      Good points. I was raised in the "don't start a sentence with 'but,' " tradition, and I try to avoid it, usually substituting, "however." My husband doesn't like the word at all from the standpoint of making your point. He has a snarky saying, "Anything that follows 'but' is usually sh**."

      As far as the infamous 'ending with a preposition,' it's often necessary for smooth flow. To follow the formal rule, a sentence often comes off sounding stiff and stilted, and as if the speaker/writer were putting on airs. I am reminded of a quote from Winston Churchill, who, when called out on such usage by a reporter, replied, "This is the sort of arrant pedantry up with which I shall not put."

      With that, he at once demonstrated that he was aware of the rule, and how ridiculous it could sound when followed strictly.

      As for the Oxford comma, I am a fan, myself, and continue to use it.

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 22 months ago from Canada

      Wow, bravo! This is really well done, and helps give me some confidence in my own rule-breaking, especially the ending with a proposition and starting with a "but." Great work ... sharing!

    • Jonas Rodrigo profile image

      Jonas Rodrigo 23 months ago

      Good hub, sandeep15r!

    • sandeep15r profile image
      Author

      Sandeep Rathore 2 years ago from New Delhi

      Thanks Integrater for nice words.

    • integrater profile image

      Certified Noob 2 years ago

      Wonderful, interesting Hub. I am in the habit of doing all the things you mentioned and many more that I may not be aware of.

      Many times I begin my sentence with but. But I don't really care as long as it makes sense. And that is most important thing to keep in mind. Of course I don't do it intentionally, it just happens.

      You are a wonderful writer. You should write more.

    • sandeep15r profile image
      Author

      Sandeep Rathore 2 years ago from New Delhi

      Thanks, vespawoolf! I really appreciate you for reading and sharing thoughts.

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 2 years ago from Peru, South America

      I agree. The rules are helpful, but breaking them can also be interesting. Thank you for this well-written article.

    • sandeep15r profile image
      Author

      Sandeep Rathore 2 years ago from New Delhi

      Thanks , William Leverne Smith, for sharing your thoughts.

    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Always interesting to see the variations possible. Breaking the rules should only be done on purpose, for the story, as I see it. Thanks for sharing! ;-)

    • sandeep15r profile image
      Author

      Sandeep Rathore 2 years ago from New Delhi

      Thanks Buildreps, for reading and sharing thoughts. Much appreciated!

    • Buildreps profile image

      Buildreps 2 years ago from Europe

      Since English is not my native tongue, I probably break many of these rules. But :) my HP scores are nevertheless pretty high. No, my English is not bad, it is though not at an academical level.

      This is still one of the best classical errors in English I know of; The panda eats, shoots and leaves. This panda is a violent animal. But without the comma it's suddenly a very kind teddy bear that eats shoots and leaves.

      Great Hub. Voted up :)

    • sandeep15r profile image
      Author

      Sandeep Rathore 2 years ago from New Delhi

      Thanks, Colin Garrow, for reading and sharing thoughts. 'Voted' is fine here, I believe.

    • FatBoyThin profile image

      Colin Garrow 2 years ago from Kinneff, Scotland

      As with all rules, these ones can be broken. But of course, they should only be broken if it still works in the context of the sentence. And anther thing, this is a great Hub. Voted up. (Is it okay to start a sentence with 'voted'?)