Writing Tips by Gary Speer

Tips for writers, musing about writing and life

Okay, all you writers out there, listen up — I’m getting irritated more THAN you know

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Some language battles aren’t worth fighting, but we fight them anyway, don’t we? The one I’m talking about is the ongoing misuse of “then” and “than.” I cannot tell you the number of times every day that I read about something being “more then” something else.

I’ve posted about this before, so I’ll let you get the usage details from that earlier post.

Think of this sort of as a monthly cry for help regarding “more than” and “more then.” I’ve exchanged email with at least one successful Internet marketing writer who told me that, frankly, he didn’t care what correct usage was. He was used to saying “more then” and he was far more interested in making money and teaching others how to make money THEN he was in getting the language right.


Does that mean you can’t do BOTH? Does that mean you make it a matter of pride/honor/arrogance or something to do it wrong intentionally when you’re told the correct usage?

Some days, I wonder whether it really is worth the battle. Then I say something like that out loud, get an irritated frown from my wife the proofreader, and realize — yeah, it’s worth it. For every idiot out there who won’t learn there are a ton of folks who are glad to get the help.

Thanks to all of you who, along with me, try to get this English language thing done right.
[tags]language usage, grammar, more than not more then, writing tips at garyspeer.com[/tags]

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6 Responses to “Okay, all you writers out there, listen up — I’m getting irritated more THAN you know”

  1. skeet says:

    Here’s a site you’ll enjoy checking out: ThereTheir.com

    I’m guessing you cringe as much as I do when visiting a certain message board?

    Submitted to Stumble. Good stuff!

  2. Gary says:

    LOL! Thanks for that link, Skeet. How could I never have found that site before? Everyone here, take a look at ThereTheir.com.

    I confess I continue to struggle with affect/effect. I even got tested on that regularly at an office job I used to have. It irritates me that I still have trouble with it.

    Ah, well. We all make misteaks sometimes, write?

  3. Katy says:

    I’m totally with you.

    My pet peeve is a lot which is actually two words, not one.

  4. Gary says:

    Yup, I see alot a lot, too.

    I think it’d be fun sometime to do a post made up of nothing but misuses of “more than/then,” “alot/a lot” and all the goodies at the “ThereTheir.com” website, just to see how it would read.

    If I put such a post up — would anyone “get it” and comment? Maybe so, now that I’ve alerted you all to watch for it. LOL!

  5. carl.b says:

    My peeves:
    Yes, loosing battle and all…

    Dangling participial phrases. Can’t believe that people with an education or a wide background of reading don’t just FEEL it and cringe at the nonsense. Where I live we hear it on the news all the time.

    Another one: defining or limited relative clause vs. unlimited relative clause, along with the correct use of ‘which’ and ‘that’ — also bears on the issue of the importance of punctuation to meaning, e.g.:

    Journalists that tell lies are a nuisance.

    Journalists, who tell lies, are a nuisance.

    I have seen a survey that indicated that a good knowledge of grammar is a predicter of low income.
    Sorry Gary, looks like we can have clear writing OR dollars but not both.

    James Joyce and William Blake never did make a decent living from their writing.

  6. Gary says:

    Carl, I really wish you hadn’t told me about that survey (just kidding, of course). I’m not doubting it, just cringing right now because it seems to be accurate in my case once again.

    I just got word, *sob, sob*, that I’ve lost an important freelance gig today.

    Life goes on and, as Shirley constantly tells me, we’ll be all right. (She’s never been wrong about that yet.)

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