Revolutionary Measures

All’s fair in love and spelling?

Children and their teacher at school in Chelse...
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My erstwhile colleague Steve Earl has made an impassioned plea for PR people to correctly use the apostrophe. Unfortunately this is just the tip of the bad grammar iceberg, and it isn’t just PR people that are to blame.

At a risk of going off on an Earl-esque rant, I’m getting fed-up of seeing newspaper articles where the journalist has simply used the wrong spelling of a word – and no-one, from the subeditors upwards has picked up on it. Basic mistakes on using words like rein/reign/rain, fair/fare or profit/prophet make my blood boil. If you control/cut spending you are reining it in (like an errant horse), not ruling it (like the Queen).

What particularly annoys me is that this is primary school stuff – I know as my seven year old son’s spellings are currently focusing on words that sound the same but are spelt differently. And to prove they know which is which they have to write a sentence that includes both correctly. My favourite example is “My mummy whines if she doesn’t get enough wine,” which sums things up nicely. Time for a lot of people to pick up a dictionary – or go back to primary school……………


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November 1, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. Yes, my girlfriend is a teacher and usually covers homophones in year 5. If anyone is still struggling try watching this useful and incredibly catchy video:

    Although, having just looked into this further, we are also talking about heterographs but this doesn’t really make for a good song.

    Useful diagram from wikipedia:

    Comment by Toby Brown | November 1, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks Toby – my son did just come home and tell me they were homophones (don’t think they are onto heterographs yet!)

      Comment by Chris Measures | November 1, 2010 | Reply

  2. I often hear people blaming education. Perhaps so as secondary school level, when the focus tends to become more vocational, and rightly so. But I think the main fault lies with the world of work not doing enough to value language and correct English not being an old-fashioned value as it was in years gone by. It sounds like something a 70-year-old might say, but if you can’t get the little things right and care about the smaller hallmarks of quality then how can anyone have any confidence in the bigger things you do?

    The only way to combat it is to set the right example, to make a stand. If people use incorrect English, I tend to ignore them. Makes for a quiet life.

    Comment by Steve Earl | November 1, 2010 | Reply

    • The trouble with ignoring them Steve is that a lot of people just carry on – and think what it is doing to your blood pressure. Though if you bring it up they look at you blankly which is just as frustrating.

      Comment by Chris Measures | November 1, 2010 | Reply

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