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Route 66 Tips for Proper English – Ain’t Dis Da Truth!

I received this e-mail the other day with some funny tips on Proper English and writing from a good friend!  I’m sure it has been passed around a lot, since it was fowarded to me and another 50 email addresses… Yes, he is one of those friends that just forwards stuff he likes.  Never saying hello or ever writing why he is sending it.  Well, other than writing in the Subject line, “you gut to see this”… OR ” this is really funny.”  When reading it, I got a bit of a chuckle because I’m sure my writing resembles a lot of it.

I thought I would do a little research on this list to see if I could find out where it originated. After a number of different searches, I found 3 sites. One attributed the list to William Safire’s Fumble rules.   “William Safire compiled these quotes in his October 7 and November 4, 1979 “On Language” columns in The New York Times.”

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:


William Lewis Safire

(December 17, 1929 – September 27, 2009) was an American author, columnist, journalist and presidential speechwriter.He was perhaps best known as a long-time syndicated political columnist for the New York Times and a regular contributor to “On Language” in the New York Times Magazine, a column on popular etymology, new or unusual usages, and other language-related topics.

On Language

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On Language is a regular column in the weekly New York Times Magazine on the English language discussing popular etymology, new or unusual usages, and other language-related topics. The inaugural column was published on February 18, 1979 and has become a regular popular feature. Many of the columns were collected in books.

Columnist and journalist William Safire was one of the most frequent contributors from the inception of the column until Safire’s death in 2009. He wrote the inaugural On Language column in 1979.[1] starting it with the greeting: “How do you do. This is a new column about language.” In more than 30 years, he contributed more than 1300 installments to the column.

The others might be from his book and still others have been added by unknown people.  This list below is a pun on Rout 66 and is a Lighthearted Guide to Grammar! Each rule is self-contradictory.

I’ve added my own literary Madness cartoon… Something tells me that Billy would have liked it.

Mental Health Humor Literary Madness

Route 66 Tips for Proper English – Ain’t this the truth!

  1. Avoid alliteration. Always.
  2. Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
  3. Employ the vernacular.
  4. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
  5. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
  6. Remember to never split an infinitive.
  7. Contractions aren’t necessary.
  8. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
  9. One should never generalize.
  10. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”
  11. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
  12. Don’t be redundant; don’t use more words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous.
  13. Be more or less specific.
  14. Understatement is always best.
  15. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
  16. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
  17. The passive voice is to be avoided.
  18. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
  19. Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
  20. Who needs rhetorical questions?
  21. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
  22. Don’t never use a double negation.
  23. capitalize every sentence and remember always end it with point
  24. Do not put statements in the negative form.
  25. Verbs have to agree with their subjects.
  26. Proofread carefully to see if you words out.
  27. If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
  28. Do not put the word”quote” in “quotes”
  29. A writer must not shift your point of view.
  30. And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction. (Remember, too, a preposition is a terrible word to end a sentence with.)
  31. Don’t overuse exclamation marks!!
  32. Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences,
  33. as of ten or more words, to their antecedents.
  34. Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
  35. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
  36. Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
  37. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
  38. Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.
  39. Always pick on the correct idiom.
  40. The adverb always follows the verb.
  41. Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague; They’re old hat; seek viable alternatives.
  42. Don’t abbrev.
  43. Check to see if you any words out.
  44. Be carefully to use adjectives and adverbs correct.
  45. About sentence fragments.
  46. When dangling, don’t use participles.
  47. Don’t use no double negatives.
  48. Each pronoun agrees with their antecedent.
  49. Just between you and I, case is important.
  50. Join clauses good, like a conjunction should.
  51. Don’t use commas, that aren’t necessary.
  52. Its important to use apostrophe’s right.
  53. It’s better not to unnecessarily split an infinitive.
  54. Never leave a transitive verb just lay there without an object.
  55. Only Proper Nouns should be capitalized. also a sentence should begin with a capital and end with a period
  56. Use hyphens in compound-words, not just in any two-word phrase.
  57. In letters compositions reports and things like that we use commasto keep a string of items apart.
  58. Watch out for irregular verbs which have creeped into our language.
  59. Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
  60. Avoid unnecessary redundancy.
  61. A writer mustn’t shift your point of view.
  62. Don’t write a run-on sentence you’ve got to punctuate it.
  63. A preposition isn’t a good thing to end a sentence with.
  64. Avoid cliches like the plague.
  65. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
  66. Profanity sucks.

Route 66 Tips for Proper English – Ain’t Dis Da Truth!

Chato Stewart

Chato Stewart has a mission, to draw and use humor as a positive tool to live, to cope with the debilitating effects symptoms of mental illness. Chato Stewart is a Mental Health Hero and Advocate. Recovery Peer Specialist board-certified in Florida. Chato is the artist behind the cartoons series Mental Health Humor, Over-Medicated, and The Family Stew - seen here in his blog posts. The cartoons are drawn from his personal experience of living with bipolar disorder (and other labels). [email protected]

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APA Reference
Stewart, C. (2013). Route 66 Tips for Proper English – Ain’t Dis Da Truth!. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 18, 2020, from


Last updated: 6 Jul 2013
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