3 Mistakes You Learned in English Class


Language is alive. It’s changed a lot since Mr. Keating’s English class. To keep your writing current, here are three outdated rules that you can finally break:

1. Use two spaces after a period.

Back in typewriter days, teachers taught students to type two spaces after periods. Computers have changed everything. Programs are now designed for proper text spacing, so you only need one space after a period. If you have trouble breaking the habit, search your completed document for instances of two spaces, and replace them with a single space.

2. Don’t end a sentence with a preposition.

This used to be a sacred grammatical rule, but the modern, conversational tone of professional writing has made room for simpler speech. The Chicago and Microsoft Manuals of Style give you license to put your preposition where it makes the most sense. This is a rule change that we can agree with.

3. Revert to the male pronoun for theoretical people.

Historically, unless a person was definitely female, the common practice was to write “he” or “him.” This has changed. It’s essential to avoid bias in your writing, and “he/she” doesn’t cut it. There are many other approaches that you can take, like making your nouns plural, writing in the imperative form, or finding gender-neutral synonyms like “businessperson” or “police officer.” Choose the best option that works for you!

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