Go Back to Learning; Don’t Bother Getting Educated

Filed under:Language Barrier,Need a Good Editor?,Politics — posted by Anwyn on June 11, 2008 @ 7:48 am

Dear Copywriters Everywhere, Including the Ones on the Email I Just Got from Newt Gingrich’s American Solutions website, where you can sign a petition, for all the good it may do, asking Congress to authorize development of more domestic oil resources:

Stop telling us to “get educated” or “educate yourselves” about anything at all. Go back to the older formulation of “learn more about …” right away. “Get educated about the issues” sounds trendy and pretentious, implies we’re uneducated to start with, and uses an unnecessarily tortured grammatical formulation. “Learn about” or “learn more about” is stronger in both structure and meaning.



  1. I think most of us do need educating. I’ve been hoping you’d do a post on possessives ending in “s.” I feel like they changed the rules on me. I can’t even remember when it happened.

    I find myself rewriting sentences to avoid having to decide between Charles’ and Charles’s. I believe it depends on which stylebook is on the top of my stack.

    I do know that the proponents of Charles’s have said that Jesus could still be Jesus’ just because he’s Jesus. It makes no sense, but I like Jesus getting special treatment.

    Just a suggestion for a post so I can write in confidence, doing the will of Anwyn, and not have to look it up or rewrite sentences or do any thinking whatsoever.

    Another subject would be on whether or not grammar is hard-wired. I heard an interesting report about that years ago. Maybe I’ll do a post on it. Probably not. Too much thinking.

    Comment by Anne — June 13, 2008 @ 2:26 pm

  2. You’re dead right, it depends on which style guide you have on top. Newspapers automatically drop the concluding S and end it with the apostrophe (Charles’ book). Technically speaking, however, Charles’s is the correct form and is still used in many, many books, I notice to my relief. I think somewhere along the way elementary school students got it in their heads that anything ending in S could be made possessive by an apostrophe, instead of only plurals that end in S (Ray and Mary are the Charleses. Their house is the Charleses’). Jesus is (or can be) indeed a special case, mostly (I suppose) through custom of people not saying “in Jesus’s name, Amen” but “in Jesus’ name” when they pray. I’ve heard some people (editors, even) say for ALL names to go with how you would say it verbally, as with Jesus, which seems like tosh to me and the way we wind up with all these “acceptable” variants and is the reason I’m always careful to pronounce the ending S if I have to say singular possesives of people ending in S.

    So it depends who you’re writing for (newspapers or magazines vs. correspondence or speeches for companies or individuals, or your blog, or what have you), and undoubtedly if what you’re writing is meant to stay in print rather than be read aloud, you’ll end up with people nagging you if you write Charles’s because they won’t know that it’s correct.

    Sigh. The Will of Anwyn (I *do* like the sound of that!) is Save the Ending S! The newspapers are dying anyway.

    If you find that hard-wired report, shoot me a URL. I’d be interested.

    Comment by Anwyn — June 14, 2008 @ 4:39 pm

Copy link for RSS feed for comments on this post or for TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace