To Forbid, Or Not To Forbid, There Is No Question: Never From

Filed under:Language Barrier,Need a Good Editor? — posted by Anwyn on March 15, 2008 @ 7:37 pm

Seen frequently on the blogs of incredibly smart people who shall not be linked: “…forbidden from [doing something here … whatever kind of something you wish, be it innocent, salacious, carefree, what have you]”. You can’t forbid people from doing something; you can only forbid them to do it and hope they listen and punish them markedly when they don’t.

Don’t these people remember their childhoods? “Little Jimmy Blogger, I absolutely FORBID YOU TO ride your bike in the irrigation canal … Little Sarah Blogger, I positively FORBID YOU TO unravel all of that doll’s hair … Little Tommy Blogger, your father has FORBIDDEN YOU TO speak to him that way …”

I couldn’t guess how this one got started. But it needs to end before it spreads farther. I forbid you to do it. So there.


  1. “Forbidden from”?? *twitch*

    Did you ever have to edit scientists’ writing? ARGH. I’m an engineer, but my last project was with a bunch of scientists. I insisted on having final editorial discretion if they submitted our work to any journals, and it’s a good thing I did. The guy putting the paper together spelled our collaborators’ names wrong. (Yes, I know I should have used an adverb.) Then there was one paragraph describing the experiment in which he used the past tense, the present tense, AND the present perfect tense. I’ve blocked most of the rest of it from my memory.

    By the way, I lurk here occasionally. We read several of the same bloggers (e.g., Rachel Lucas, See-Dub, and Ace). We also share an interest in Tolkien. I don’t comment on blogs very often because between work and school, I am quite busy. (I’m explaining because sometimes random people show up on my blog and comment, and I always wonder where they found me.) Anyway, I hope you had a good weekend.

    Comment by Mrs. Peel — March 16, 2008 @ 8:11 pm

  2. Haven’t had the pleasure of editing scientists yet but I’m sure it’s in my future. I have edited baseball sabrmetricians, though, which, as a friend said at the time, makes you want to stick a fork in your eye.

    Welcome, Mrs. Peel, glad to have you commenting. :)

    Comment by Anwyn — March 16, 2008 @ 8:44 pm

  3. At first I read this thinking it was some sort of libertarian political philosophy argument, before I finally realized it was an editing thing.

    So I run off to do a text search. Oh, crap:

    Leave me alone! I write good!

    PS Hi Mrs. P!

    Comment by See-Dubya — March 16, 2008 @ 11:09 pm

  4. Well since we are being picky:
    “But it needs to end before it spreads farther.”
    shouldn’t it be “further”?

    Comment by Zagfan — March 17, 2008 @ 8:17 am

  5. Picky!? Next thing I know, you’ll be saying “A person can go their own way when it comes to grammar” !!! :)

    And no, farther is correct … as far as it goes. Further, I have always been taught what Merriam-Webster confirms here, that “further” is more of a modifier and “farther” refers to terms of distance or things spreading over that distance.

    SeeDub, you do indeed write good. The Observation Editor just wants her friends to write gooder!

    Comment by Anwyn — March 17, 2008 @ 8:27 am

  6. Either I haven’t heard that misuse — or my ears were too dulled by my own verbing to notice.

    Will be more attuned to what is forbidden.

    Comment by Anne — March 17, 2008 @ 8:59 am

  7. from EXPEDIA:
    2. to greater extent: to a greater degree or extent
    Let’s not pursue the matter any further.
    leads me to believe that further is correct. My understanding is that farther is typically used with distance as well. I don’t see the application of distance in your original sentence.

    Comment by Zagfan — March 17, 2008 @ 1:47 pm

  8. The Webster I linked says that both “farther” and “further” can be used for “metaphorical” measures of distance … surely something “spreading” has to travel over distance, like a disease. I.E. “further” would not be incorrect but neither is “farther” … in your example I think not pursuing the matter any farther would also be acceptable. “Farther” is all good in either case, it’s “further” that’s restricted.

    Comment by Anwyn — March 17, 2008 @ 3:51 pm

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