Friday, April 9, 2010

Words That Go Clunk When You Write

Okay, I admit that's not the greatest title for this post, but it's Friday and my brain is tired, and it's pretty much all I got till Monday.

Here's the thing.

I've read a couple posts the last few days about grammar. One blog responded to a question about the correct use of "then" or "and then" in a compound sentence. Here's an example (but not the same sentence used on the other blog): Is it correct to write: "He went to the bank then he went to the movies."?

According to the response on the other blog, the correct use would be (using my example above): He went to the bank, and then he went to the movies.

I left a comment on the blog that while using "and then" might be correct, it sounds "clunky" to me, and I suggested rewording the sentence to something like: He went to the bank before he went to the movies. I haven't checked back yet to see what the response to my comment was.

Today I found this question/answer post on Writers' Digest about using the pronouns he or she for a non-specific gender. The post is interesting, and as I read the answer to the question, my eyes lit up at: " No. 1 on the Writer’s Digest 10 Commandments list states: 'Thou shalt avoid clunkiness at all costs.' ”

While I thought my comment about not being clunky was original, apparently Writer's Digest also advises writers to "avoid clunkiness." Is clunkiness a real word? Anyway, I agree with the sentiment. Avoid clunkiness and "things that go clunk when you write."

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

Today in St. Peters, MO: Sunny, high 69 degrees. My lilac bushes are in full bloom (about this color) and smell amazing (use your imagination).


  1. Legendary editor Ruth Cavin of St. Martin's Press said some time ago that "and then" is wrong and is one of her pet peeves. Ms. Cavin is in her 90s and I bow to her accumulated knowledge...Judy Moresi

  2. Yep, I'm clunky enough already.

  3. Hi Judy,
    I'm not familiar with Ms. Cavin, but I agree with her.

    Hi Pat,
    You are not clunky!

  4. Love it - avoiding clunkiness at all costs will be my new mantra :)

  5. Hi Jemi,
    Thanks! Another of my favorite writing slogans is "Write tight."

  6. I always read my writing out loud to check for clunkiness. Which I'm counting as a perfectly fine word. :-)

  7. Hi Cathy,
    Same here. I read my work out loud, except when my windows are wide open and the neighbors are outside;-)

  8. Hi Donna...Certainly agreed that we should always avoid clunkiness in our writing. No lilacs yet in Massachusetts....still too chilly. I absolutely adore lilacs! Sincerely, Susan

  9. Hi Susan,
    When I saw you were Susan from Mass, at first I thought the post was from my niece Susan who lives in Granby. Then I looked at your photo and realized it was a different Susan.
    The lilacs in Missouri are beautiful in the spring, but you can't beat New England in the fall. The leaves on the white birches are lovely. I lived in Western Mass for 4 1/2 years.


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