Myths

Myths
For decades and even centuries, respected authorities on writing, reading, editing, grammar and word usage have disputed the following 11 myths and superstitions of writing. Unfortunately, they continue to be taught and followed in education, business, law and government.

Superstitions: "unintelligent applications of an unintelligent dogma." - H.W. Fowler, 1926
Never split an infinitive.

"There is no point in rearranging a sentence just to avoid splitting an infinitive unless it is an awkward one" - Porter G. Perrin, 1965.
Other references: Lounsbury, 1908; Fowler, 1926; Leonard, 1932; Curme, 1947; Evans & Evans, 1957; Lewis, 1961; Bernstein, 1965; Follett, 1966; Skillin, 1974; Gowers, 1988; Johnson, 1991; Stott, 1991; Lauchman, 1993; American Heritage, 1996; O'Connor, 1996; Lederer & Dowis, 1999; Sabin, 1999; Lovinger, 2000; Strunk & White, 2000; Trimble, 2000; Wallraff, 2000; Walsh, 2000; Associated Press, 2002; Bryson, 2002; Merriam-Webster, 2002; Chicago, 2003; Garner, 2003; Williams, 2003.
Never begin a sentence with But or And.

"One cannot help wondering whether those who teach such a monstrous doctrine ever read any English themselves." -- Charles Allen Lloyd, 1938
Other references on and: Lowth, 1782; Bryant, 1947; Fowler & Gowers, 1965; Follett, 1966; Amis, 1977; Copperud, 1980; Morris & Morris, 1985; Gowers, 1988; Johnson, 1991; Stott, 1991; Burchfield, 1992; American Heritage, 1996; O'Connor, 1996; Lederer & Dowis, 1999; Sabin, 1999; Lovinger, 2000; Wallraff, 2000; Walsh, 2000; Bryson, 2002; Merriam-Webster, 2002; Chicago, 2003; Garner, 2003; Williams, 2003.
Other references on but: Baker, 1962; Pence & Emery, 1963; Payne, 1965; Follett, 1966; Amis, 1977; Gowers, 1988; Johnson, 1991; Stott, 1991; American Heritage, 1996; O'Connor, 1996; Lederer & Dowis, 1999; Sabin, 1999; Trimble, 2000; Wallraff, 2000; Walsh, 2000; Merriam-Webster, 2002; Chicago, 2003; Garner, 2003; Williams, 2003.
Never end a sentence with a preposition.

"In English prepositions have been used as terminal words in a sentence since the days of Chaucer, and in that position they are completely idiomatic." - Theodore M. Bernstein, 1971
Other references: Lowth, 1782; Bryant, 1947; Evans & Evans, 1957; Fowler & Gowers, 1965; Skillin, 1974; Gowers, 1988; Stott, 1991; American Heritage, 1996; O'Connor, 1996; Lederer & Dowis, 1999; Sabin, 1999; Lovinger, 2000; Trimble, 2000; Wallraff, 2000; Woods, 2001; Bryson, 2002; Merriam-Webster, 2002; Chicago, 2003; Garner, 2003; Williams, 2003.
Never use between with more than two objects.

"Between essentially does apply to only two, but sometimes the 'two' relationship is present when more than two elements are involved." - Theodore M. Bernstein, 1977
Other references: Lowth, 1782; Bryant, 1947; Fowler & Gowers, 1965; Skillin, 1974; Gowers, 1988; OED, 1989; Johnson, 1991; Lederer & Dowis, 1999; Sabin, 1999; Lovinger, 2000; Wallraff, 2000; Strunk & White, 2002; Walsh, 2000; Associated Press, 2002; Bryson, 2002; Merriam-Webster, 2002; Chicago, 2003; Garner, 2003.
Never split a verb phrase.

"Because of their misconception as to what a split infinitive really is, some have reached the erroneous conclusion that an adverbial modifier must never be placed between parts of a compound verb phase ..." - R.W. Pence & D.W. Emery, 1963
Other references: Lowth, 1782; Brown, 1852; Fowler, 1926; Baker, 1938; Partridge, 1942; Bernstein, 1965; Follett, 1966; Skillin, 1974; O'Connor, 1996; Sabin, 1999; Lovinger, 2000; Trimble, 2000; Walsh, 2000; Associated Press, 2002; Bryson, 2002; Chicago, 2003; Garner, 2003.
Never use contractions.

"Your style will obviously be warmer and truer to your personality if you use contractions like 'I'll' and 'won't' when they fit comfortably into what you're writing." - William Zinsser, 1985
Other references: Lowth, 1782; Bryant, 1947; Flesch, 1967; Ewing, 1974; Stott, 1991; O'Connor, 1996; Sabin, 1999; Trimble, 2000; Garner, 2003.
Never use the first-person pronouns I and me.

If you want to write like a professional just about the first thing you have to do is get used to the first person singular. ... Never mind the superstitious notion that it's immodest to do so. It just isn't so." - Rudolf Flesch, 1958
Other references: Lowth, 1782; Bryant, 1947; Stott, 1991; Lauchman, 1993; O'Connor, 1999; Trimble, 2000; Chicago, 2003; Garner, 2003.
Never use since to mean because.

"There is a groundless notion current in both the lower schools and in the world of affairs that since has an exclusive reference to time and therefore cannot be used as a casual conjunction. ... No warrant exists for avoiding this usage, which goes back, beyond Chaucer, to Anglo-Saxon. ..." - Wilson Follett, 1966
Other references: Copperud, 1980; O'Connor, 1996; Walsh, 2000; Chicago, 2003; Garner, 2003; Williams, 2003.
Never begin a sentence with Because.

"So novel and absurd is this superstition that seemingly no authority on writing has countered it in print. It appears to result from concern about fragments." - Bryan A. Garner, 2003
Other references: Lowth, 1782; Bryant, 1947; American Heritage, 1996; Merriam-Webster, 2002; Williams, 2003.
Never write a paragraph containing only a single sentence.

"To interpose a one-sentence paragraph at intervals - at longish intervals - is prudent." - Eric Partridge, 1942
Other references: Hill, 1896; Lauchman, 1993; Lovinger, 2000; Trimble, 2000; Garner, 2003.
Never refer to the reader as you.

"Keep a running conversation with your reader. Use the second-person pronoun whenever you can. Translate everything into you language." - Rudolf Flesch, 1962
Other references: Olson, DeGeorge & Ray, 1985; Trimble, 2000; Garner, 2003.
References

American Heritage, The, Book of English Usage, 1996
Amis, Kingsley, The King's English, 1997
Associated Press, The, Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law, revised, 2002
Baker, Josephine Turck, Correct English: Complete Grammar and Drill Book, 1938
Baker, Sheridan, The Practical Stylist, 1962
Bernstein, Theodore M., Miss Thistlebottom's Hobgoblins: The Careful Writer's Guide to the Taboos, Bugbears, and Outmoded Rules of English Usage, 1971
Bernstein, Theodore M., Dos, Don'ts & Maybes of English Usage, 1977
Bernstein, Theodore M., The Careful Writer, 1965
Brown, Goold, The Institutes of English Grammar, revised edition, 1852
Bryant, Margaret M., College English, 1947
Bryson, Bill, Bryson's Dictionary of Troublesome Words: A Writer's Guide to Getting It Right, 2002
Burchfield, R.W., Points of View, 1992
Chicago Press, University of, Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, 2003
Copperud, Roy H., American Usage and Style: The Consensus, 1980
Curme, George O., English Grammar, 1947
Evans, Bergen, & Cordelia Evans, A Dictionary of Contemporary American Usage, 1957
Ewing, David, Writing for Results in Business, Government, and the Professions, 1974
Flesch, Rudolf, A New Way to Better English, 1958
Flesch, Rudolf, How to Be Brief: An Index to Simple Writing, 1962
Follett, Wilson, Modern American Usage, 1966
Fowler, H.W., Dictionary of Modern English Usage,1926
Fowler, H.W., Dictionary of Modern English Usage, Ernest Gowers, editor, second edition, 1965
Garner, Bryan A., Garner's Modern American Usage, 2003
Gowers, Ernest, The Complete Plain Words, revised by Sidney Greenbaum & Janet Whitcut, 1988
Hill, Adams S., The Foundations of Rhetoric, 1896
Johnson, Edward D., The Handbook of Good English, 1991
Lauchman, Richard, Plain Style: Techniques for Simple, Concise, Emphatic Business Writing, 1993
Lederer, Richard, & Richard Dowis, Sleeping Dogs Don't Lay: Practical Advice for the Grammatically Challenged, 1999
Leonard, Sterling, Current English Usage, 1932
Lewis, Norman, Better English, 1961
Lloyd, Charles Allen, We Who Speak English, 1938
Lounsbury, Thomas R., The Standard of Usage in English, 1908
Lovinger, Paul W., The Penguin Dictionary of American English Usage and Style, 2000
Lowth, Robert, A Short Introduction to English Grammar, revised edition, 1782
Merriam-Webster, Concise Dictionary of English Usage, 2002
Morris, William, & Mary Morris, Harper Dictionary of Contemporary Usage, second edition, 1985
O'Connor, Patricia T., Woe Is I: The Grammarphobes Guide to Better English in Plain English, 1996
O'Connor, Patricia T., Words Fail Me: What Everyone Who Writes Should Know about Writing, 1999
Olson, Gary A., James DeGeorge & Richard, Ray, Style and Readability in Business Writing, 1985
Oxford English Dictionary (OED), second edition, 1989
Partridge, Eric, Usage & Abusage, 1942
Payne, Lucile Vaughan, The Lively Art of Writing, 1965
Pence, R.W., & D.W. Emery, Grammar of Present-Day English, 1963
Perrin, Porter G., Writer's Guide and Index to English, fourth edition, 1965
Sabin, William, The Gregg Reference Manual, ninth edition, 2001
Skillin, Marjorie, Robert M. Gay, & others, Words Into Type, third edition, 1974
Stott, Bill, Write to the Point, 1991
Strunk, Jr., William, & E.B. White, The Elements of Style, fourth edition, 2000
Trimble, John R., Writing with Style, second edition, 2000
Wallraff, Barbara, Word Court, 2000
Walsh, Bill, Lapsing Into a Comma, 2000
Williams, Joseph M., Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace, 2003
Woods, Geraldine, English Grammar for Dummies, 2001
Zinsser, William, On Writing Well, third edition, 1985

Myths 7.4 of 10 on the basis of 3425 Review.