From The Morning News, The Non-Expert on the importance of editing.

Experts answer what they know. The Non-Expert answers anything. This week Andrew Womack illustrates, exhibits, and displays how proper editing makes English all that more the understandable.

Question: Gotta English question for you. Sometimes I see ‘hat, mittens, and gloves’ and sometimes I see ‘hat, mittens and gloves.’ I learnt it the first way, but which one’s right? I’m no editor. – Jim

Answer: The importance of writing at all is, of course always in question, especially for the recent rise of television, online, and blogging but the importance of consistent style in writing should, never be underesteemed. It’s using the common words in a consistent way which makes understanding others possible. If I say to one person, ‘This means this’, and then say to another person, ‘This means that, than the communication between us has become broken.

So who do we turn to? In times of we’re needed help? For a steady, understood usage and spelling of words & phrases that acts as the platform for which readers can comprehend—whats being said? without having to overanalyse it but just getting it, right?

The editor thats who!!

Read the rest, even at the risk of never being able to construct a decent English sentence again. [N.b.: It ends with a recommendation for “‘Hat, mitten’s, and gloves’.”] (Via Language Log.)


  1. Growing up in the UK during the 1980’s my generation wasn’t taught grammar at scholl as the Government decided that written English was dying out. How wrong they were!

  2. As that post proves!

  3. aldiboronti says

    Ah, the eternal debate on the Oxford (or Harvard) comma! Dr Techie, on WordOrigins, gave a marvellous example of how necessary it can sometimes be in this example:
    “The people I most admire are my parents, Eleanor Roosevelt and Jesus Christ.”

  4. The usual example is a dedication to “my parents, Ayn Rand and God”, (219 ghits vs 0 for Eleanor and the Baby Jesus).
    (Even Urban Myths can have canonical forms!)

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