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British civil servants told to write proper English

The British Department for Transport has produced a guide that lists grammatical no-no’s for officials, according to newspaper reports. The instructions detail linguistic errors in official documents that annoy Justine Greening, the recently appointed Transport Secretary. I do welcome this initiative!
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Writing tip 15 – Beware of the spell-check

Last week I wrote about a survey that said separate is the most misspelled word in the English language, at least in Britain. Two out of three in the survey admitted that using spell-check on computers had made them lazy when writing letters or notes by hand. Here I must sound a word of warning.

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Writing tip 14 – Want to look stupid? Misspell a word or two

Did you know that separate is the most misspelled word in English? This appears to be the case, at least in Britain, a survey shows. You won’t earn any points for spelling words correctly, but get it wrong a few times and your text will lose credibility.
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Writing tip 13 – U.S. and UK – separated by the same language

George Bernard Shaw apparently once described Britain and the United States as two countries separated by a common language. Of course, many things have different names in U.S. versus British English, for example sidewalk to an American is a pavement to a Brit. Spelling also differs many times, such as color and colour, but the problem arises when the parties use words that mean quite different things!
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My pet hates 14 – leaving out a crucial word to save space

There is a trend in writing, no doubt started on the Internet, to use incomplete sentences to confirm that an order has been dispatched, an installation has been completed or a product launched.
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Writing tip 12 – was your grandmother a boy?

There is a common mistake in writing that can best be described by this hilarious generic example: “As a boy, my grandmother used to read to me.” Surely, your grandmother was not a boy, but that is how it comes across.
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Writing tip 11 – a hyphen can change the meaning

For those of you who didn’t know it, London taxis are called black cabs. But what’s the difference between a black-cab driver and a black cab driver? Answer: the taxi driver is either just another driver of a black cab or a taxi driver who happens to be black. The hyphen makes all the difference.
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