In the dark recesses of some Dead Sea cave, a unique manuscript version of the ten commandments has recently been discovered. It was found to have added an eleventh, thus: “Thou shalt not fulminate pedantically against grammatical error: for if thou shouldest I shalt smite thee with an unnoticed gross error of thine own – yea, even if thou hast proof read it a thousand times – and thus thou wilt look a right plonker, innit, saith the Lord”.
I’ve never really felt all that oppressed by the existing ten commandments. I’ve rarely taken a sneaky covetous look at next door’s ass, pronounce it how you will. The times that my style has been cramped by not being allowed to kill are few in number. And I’ve always managed without difficulty to refrain from bowing down to the numerous graven images which litter my house. But this new eleventh one is going to test me, I fear.
There’s nothing I like better than to sneer at the grammatical lapses of others. All those innumerable case’s where its been proven without doubt that it’s tenuous grasp of apostrophical (if that word does not exist, it does now) positioning is condemned by the evidence of the very sentence itself. Or to snigger on less occasions about fewer weight of evidence than that. And of course I have my own penchant for starting sentences with a bold conjunction. But that’s allowed, I’m sure you’ll agree, in the interests of a punchy and lively style.
I want to finally and irrevocably make it clear that split infinitives do not generally make for pleasing clauses, nor do prepositions often help if they’re reserved for ending sentences with. I have no shame or regret in my grammatical and stylistic authoritarianism, but I am constantly terrified that if I let it emerge too freely I’ll inevitably fall justifiably foul of that eleventh commandment. I’ve scoured this post for any lapses of tense, or punctuation, or verb agreement, or stylistic ineptitude other than those that I’ve deliberately introduced. And if you hadn’t realised that I had introduced any, then you’ve clearly wasted the last five minutes of your life. For everyone else, if an unintentional error has crept in, please don’t bother to point it out in a comment.