Incorrectness: When It’s OK To Be Intentionally Wrong

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This is where we get to write all the stuff our clients don’t let us write.
You could say it’s our place to blow off a bit of steam — and drop the occasional F-bomb.

Incorrectness: When It’s OK To Be Intentionally Wrong

wrong-writingSometimes it’s OK to use words that aren’t real words or be grammatically wrong on purpose. Whether for stylistic reasons of for comedic effect, there are times when you can get away with being deliberately incorrect and not have proofreading or editing services call you out on it.

Typically, incorrectness dwells in works of fiction and opinion pieces (like online articles, blogs, etc.) where setting a specific tone and writing in a specific style is necessary. There is a fine line to pulling this off successfully, though. And you need to be very obvious about it.

Here are some ways to be correctly incorrect:

Spelling Phonetically

Spelling words phonetically is usually done to communicate colloquialisms or accents, especially within period pieces where the spoken word was noticeably different. For example, “Oh, dah-ling, you look just goh-jus!” Or, “Fuggedaboutit!” You could just say that a character said forget about it in his New York accent. But phonetic spelling, especially in dialogue, gives it something more. Doing this really helps to paint a picture of someone. Try it out and see the difference.

Breaking Grammar Rules

Almost every single grammar rule in the English language is in some way up for debate. Take advantage of this grey area — it makes writing much better. Start a sentence with and or but. End a sentence with a preposition like at, about, before, inside or within. Use a single sentence as an entire paragraph. This is especially great when you want to add emphasis to a very important point. Although breaking these rules is generally frowned upon by academics, they’ll give your writing a level of approachability that makes it worthwhile. And rules are made to be broken anyway.

Using Made-up Words

In addition to making your writing more unique, it’s also cool to contribute to the world of neologisms, don’t ya think? Using words like ginormous (wow, autocorrect didn’t underline that — neologism indeed) gives writing more oomph. You can also add suffixes and prefixes like –ness, –able, un- and ­re- to make your writing word-tacular. She was lost in her own twenty-somethingness. See how that works? Another way to do this is to add hyphens to a whole phrase to make it an adjective: He never concerned himself with that sort of straight-off-the-assembly line freshness.

A time and place to steer clear of these rule breakers is, of course, in academia. If the context calls for seriousness, give it that respect. If you’re trying to be correctly incorrect and fail, you’ll come off as just plain wrong. So be careful. And be clear.

As a final point, remember that the only time it’s ever OK to use the word irregardless is if you’re referring to how horribly wrong it is, or you’re being blatantly ironic.

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