The other day, I signed up for the Post a day challenge, and I’ve messed it up already. I was busy for the better part of the day, and it was approaching midnight before I realized that I hadn’t posted anything for January 6th. *Sigh* Maybe we can count this for the 6th, even though it’s technically Friday, since the sun hasn’t come up. Well, I hope for better luck tomorrow. I must learn to watch out for midnight! It creeps up on you.
On the 5th, I posted about one of my language pet peeves, and was corrected by a wise person. Ever since I have studied writing, I have read numerous style and usage guides in the effort to make my writing most effective and clear. When I teach, I try to make sure students write to say what they mean as opposed to making statements that are unclear. Well, I may have been my own worst enemy on that post!
One of my favorite style guides was written by an English professor out of California and had been passed to me by another professor. In it, many preferred forms are listed and non-preferred forms are veritably mocked. I clearly took those preferences to heart in my pet peeves. But is there any clear reason for that preference?
I can remember many times advising students that this or that construction is correct and having them tell me that the sentence still sounds confusing. I think that may be at the heart of some preferred versus non-preferred usage questions. In writing, when making sentences as clear as possible, we often make choices that eliminate any possible confusion, whether or not the confusion is “technically” warranted. Maybe that is the reason for certain of the stated preferences in my usage guide. It certainly bears examination, anyway.