Lovecraft's 20 most common mistakes of young authors
Lovecraft enumerates the twenty most common mistakes of young authors, “aside from those gross violations of syntax which ordinary education corrects,” and offers a common cure for all:
- Erroneous plurals of nouns, as vallies or echos.
- Barbarous compound nouns, as viewpoint or upkeep.
- Want of correspondence in number between noun and verb where the two are widely separated or the construction involved.
- Ambiguous use of pronouns.
- Erroneous case of pronouns, as whom for who, and vice versa, or phrases like “between you and I,” or “Let we who are loyal, act promptly.”
- Erroneous use of shall and will, and of other auxiliary verbs.
- Use of intransitive for transitive verbs, as “hewas graduated from college,” or vice versa, as “he ingratiated with the tyrant.”
- Use of nouns for verbs, as “he motored to Boston,” or “he voiced a protest.”
- Errors in moods and tenses of verbs, as “If Iwas he, I should do otherwise,” or “He said the earth was round.”
- The split infinitive, as “to calmly glide.”
- The erroneous perfect infinitive, as “Last week I expected to have met you.”
- False verb-forms, as “I pled with him.”
- Use of like for as, as “I strive to write likePope wrote.”
- Misuse of prepositions, as “The gift was bestowed to an unworthy object,” or “The gold was divided between the five men.”
- The superfluous conjunction, as “I wish for you to do this.”
- Use of words in wrong senses, as “The book greatly intrigued me,” “Leave me take this,” “He was obsessed with the idea,” or “He is ameticulous writer.”
- Erroneous use of non-Anglicised foreign forms, as “a strange phenomena,” or “two stratas of clouds.”
- Use of false or unauthorized words, asburglarize or supremest.
- Errors of taste, including vulgarisms, pompousness, repetition, vagueness, ambiguousness, colloquialism, bathos, bombast, pleonasm, tautology, harshness, mixed metaphor, and every sort of rhetorical awkwardness.
- Errors of spelling and punctuation, and confusion of forms such as that which leads many to place an apostrophe in the possessive pronoun its.
Of all blunders, there is hardly one which might not be avoided through diligent study of simple textbooks on grammar and rhetoric, intelligent perusal of the best authors, and care and forethought in composition. Almost no excuse exists for their persistent occurrence, since the sources of correction are so numerous and so available.’