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My previous attempt at upgrading the quality of Kossacks' writing received such a high volume of rec's and tips (!!), that I decided to try again.  So here's a list of a few writing errors that I have observed in more than a few DK diaries.

Please don't be offended, people - I have enjoyed the vast majority of diaries that I have encountered here immensely. But if one or two writing tips help even one aspiring writer to ease his readers' burdens, my efforts shall not have been wasted.

1.  The past tense of the verb "to read" is "read." So the following sentence is correct: "I usually read 3 books a week, but last week I only read two."  

But the past tense of the verb "to lead" is "led." So the following sentence is correct: "I usually lead 3 book tours a week, but last week I only led two."

Please note that the word "lead" (rhymes with "dead") is a noun and is the 82nd element in the periodic table. It is often found in paints and glazes on children's toys and coffee mugs manufactured in countries with weak environmental laws. It is not the past tense of "to lead."

2.  The word "data" is the plural form of the singular "datum." So verbs and other descriptors must agree:

Correct: These data show a strong correlation between smoking and lung cancer.
Incorrect: This data shows a strong correlation between smoking and lung cancer.

3.  "There," "their," and "they're" are 3 different words that sound the same (homonyms) but have 3 different meanings. I won't insult your intelligence by defining them. Suffice it to say that I have seen them interchanged and substituted improperly on more occasions than I can count. And "ther" is not a word, sorry.

4. OK, one more. Whenever you are creating a phrase that includes "and me" or "and I" and you can't decide which is correct, just try substituting "me" or "I" alone and see which sounds correct - then stick with it.

Correct: The committee decided that the prize would be split between Mary and me.
Incorrect: The committee decided that the prize would be split between Mary and I.

Correct: Mom arranged for Tom and me to go to the concert together.
Incorrect: Mom arranged for Tom and I to go to the concert together.

Correct: Mom decided that Tom and I would go to the concert separately.
Incorrect: Mom decided that Tom and me would go to the concert separately.

See how that works? We can get into technical grammatical details, but if you go with what sounds right, you will usually be ok.

Oh, and have fun.

Originally posted to liberaldad2 on Mon Aug 04, 2014 at 12:26 PM PDT.

Also republished by Cranky Grammarians.

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