Grammar Nazi

Posted: 11 May 2012 in Reviews

Authors and editors of RPG products! Ladies and gentlemen, your attention please…

Many of you are abusing my beloved English language. I would like you to stop, because it is both wrong, and irritating. I shall set aside as far as possible my views on the use of American English, and on matters of style, for they are not mine to denigrate. Those of you whose native language is not English (and many of the best RPG products at the moment hail from Italy or Poland), you are forgiven, not least because I could not do half so well in your languages.

However, where those of you who are native English speakers are wrong, I would like you to mend your evil ways. To wit:

  • The piece of text at the end of your book is not an "Afterward". It is an "Afterword". Likewise, the piece at the beginning is a "Foreword", not a "Forward". If you know this and use the wrong one on purpose, be aware that this not cute, it is jarring.
  • A horde is a large group of creatures, such as rats. A hoard is a collection of objects, such as treasure. Please use the correct one to convey your meaning.
  • An apostrophe denotes possession or contraction, not plurality. For example, "it is" is contracted to "it’s", and a collar belonging to a dog is "the dog’s collar". If you are tempted to write "fruit’s" when you mean more than one fruit, i.e. "fruits", see me after class.
  • They’re vs there vs their. The apostrophe again stands for a missing letter in a contraction; "they are" has become "they’re". There indicates a position at some distance from the speaker ("It’s over there.") Their denotes possession ("They drew their swords.")
  • Lay vs lies. Something lies before you in the present tense. It lay before you in the past. Please use the correct tense.
  • "Decimate" means "kill every tenth person", not "inflict heavy casualties".
  • Big bugs are "giant arthropods", not "giant anthropods". An anthropod is a bipedal humanoid.
  • "Cannibals" are creatures that eat members of their own species. If they eat humans, but are not humans themselves, they are not cannibals.

Your spelling checker will not alert you to these because they are not misspelled (although it might complain that "afterword" isn’t a proper word – ignore it, it is wrong). Your grammar checker might, or might not, depending on how well the programmers understood English grammar; and my guess is that was not a key criterion in hiring them.

This has been a public service announcement. Thank you for your time.

  1. welshpiper says:

    I applaud your rigour. Can I get a witness for the serial comma?

  2. rsmsingers says:

    Afterward the horde’s came together with there leader and lied at his feet the decimated giant anthropod cannibals (still clutching their human victims).

  3. Rob Singers says:

    Afterward the horde’s came together with there leader and lied at his feet the decimated giant anthropod cannibals (still clutching their human victims).

  4. thetailrace says:

    Most of my gaming these days is the MMORPG ‘City of heroes’ which has enough typos to suggest that the budget didn’t stretch to a tech writer. The most grating example (to me) was the ‘tip’ mission where you are asked to ‘Diffuse the bomb threat’. After some months however we were asked to ‘Defuse’ instead

    • andyslack says:

      I have to say, CoH has the friendliest player community of any MMORPG I know. It’s the only one where I’ve seen drive-by healings. The spelling, however… =]

      • thetailrace says:

        If you’re on union and see Thyristor or Thyristor Redux send a tell for a friendly reply with excellent grammar and spelling. 🙂
        Or shout out in the help channel if tells unavailable to you.

      • andyslack says:

        Thanks – I stopped playing awhile ago, but if I go back to it (as I sometimes think I should) I’ll give you a tell… =]

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