7 grammar mistakes that should be decriminalised (so that we can ride our bike more)

By Craig Richards, the Free Rider, 8 November

The most frequent reason I hear for people not riding their bike is, ‘I just don’t have enough time.’


The other day as I was riding home I had a brainwave. A plan to save everyone who works in an office type job 30 minutes a day that they could then spend riding their bike.

I warn you: you could find it disturbing. But please stay calm and read me out. The plan involves simplifying the pedantic grammar rules. I’m sure some of your eyes are twitching already.


It’s usually insulting to refer to someone as a hard line rule enforcer. But sadly many chests would swell with pride if you pinned a badge on it saying Grammar Gestapo or Punctuation Police or Spelling Stormtrooper. I wonder how many dinner time conversations go like this:

How was your day?

Well you wont believe what happened! I was proof reading Freds work and their were  mistakes all through it.


(stop twitching like Chief Inspector Dreyfus: its just a couple of little errors!)

I’d like to think people take pleasure in making a citizen’s punctuation arrest because they want to save their colleagues from being judged by vicious Grammar Gangs. Unfortunately, I fear it’s more to do with making them feel superior.

Now ask yourself this question: so what if you know a bunch of rules made up by some random for an unknown reason?

Now imagine all the time we’d save if we didn’t have to spend ages making sure our written work follows a confusing web of arbitrary rules or pointing out where someone else’s doesn’t? This is valuable time we could spend on something much more enjoyable…like going for a pedal!

I know there’s many who think good grammar is the bed rock of civilised society. The following selection of lists from googling common grammar mistakes shows how keen people are to be the fountain of all grammar knowledge:

25 of the most common grammatical errors

20 common grammar mistakes

5 most common grammatical errors

14 common grammatical mistakes in English

10 common grammar mistakes even smart people make

The 30 most common grammar mistakes (and how to avoid them)

15 grammar goofs that make you look silly

Why there are so many different numbers of common mistakes is a mystery as is whether the mistakes are ‘grammatical’ or ‘grammar’.

But consider this, some of the most influencial songs would never have become hits if the opening lines followed the rules of grammar. Why? Because the corrected opening lines suck big time. Here’s just 3 examples.

1. Me and many other love birds would’ve had to choose another wedding song if Billy Joel’s Mum had given Just the way you are the red pen treatment:

Awesome lyrics:      Don’t go changin’, to try and please me.

Sucky correction:     Don’t change to try and please me.


2. Lots of Aussies would not have a karaoke go to song if Michael Hutchence critical friend had given Never tear us apart the once over:

Awesome lyrics:      Don’t ask me, what you know is true.

Sucky correction:    Don’t ask me what’s true.


3. Millions of drunks would have nothing to scream out just before closing time if Jon Bon Jovi’s English teacher had corrected Livin’ on a prayer:

Awesome lyrics:      Tommy used to work on the docks.

Sucky correction::   Tommy worked at the docks.


Not yet convinced that grammar isn’t the key to life, well consider this statement:

           Ive cured canser, solved world piece and eradicated green house gas emisions.

If as I suspect 56% of the population would ignore the news and get out the red pen surely our priorities are misplaced and its time to end the grammar madness.

And now you’re almost on board, here’s comes the killer blow.


If we relax the rules, there’s much less chance of permanent disfigurement when tattoo artists make a slip of the needle.

So now your eye has stopped twitching and your mind is open, it’s time to reveal the big idea: the 7 simplified grammar rules we should live by.

  1. No more apostrophes: who cares if a words shortened, we know what it means. Also, its not vital to know who owns something in a sentence; whos going to steal it?
  2. Unite there, their and they’re into thair: it’ll cut down the thinking and given thair contains hair it’s a tribute to the rockin dos of the music legends up above.
  3. Merge affect and effect into iffect: most of the time effect is a noun and affect is a verb but sometimes that reverses. Well that’s not clear so lets give the kiwis a thrill and change it to iffect.
  4. Get rid of the three terrible 2s: having three ways to spell a word is a pain in the pants so lets just go with the number 2. Actually while I’m on a roll lets just get rid of all words that sound the same with more than one spelling.
  5. Simplify the pause punctuation: colons (:), semi-colons (;), dashes (–) goodbye to you. A full stop for a big breath and a comma for a small breath is all we need.
  6. Ditch capital letters: the start of a sentence is simple but the whole proper name thing gets pretty funky. is it Upper West Primary School or Upper West primary school? who cares. and it’s a pain typing in capitals anyway. in the bin with CAPITALS I SAY.
  7. farewell to silent letters: what’s all that about? glenn with two n’s, starting write with a w. stupid and easily dispatched.

sure itll take a bit to get used to riting this way but thairs a significant iffect 2 take in2 account.

report riting will be much quicker and proof reading will be easy. thairll be no judging others and no judging of us for something that really doesnt matter.

and the best thing is that for 30 minutes each day thousands of folks will have time to do something that really matters instead…hop on thair bike and enjoy life.

For seal3.png

ride and rite free!


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