The War on “That”


When someone is critical of a post or ones work that is their opinion, but it can be a learning experience. A critique of your writing can make you better although it can sting at first. I am not the greatest blogger but I try to be open, friendly and informed as much as I […]

via Thanks For Paying Attention Anyway — The Tony Burgess Blog

This post was inspired by Tony’s post about critique, linked above. I’d commented about my experience with critique whilst studying English and Journalism:

Critique can be a hard thing.

When I was in undergrad, studying journalism at the time, I was doing an internship for the alumni magazine. Also, I was taking a grammar and editing course simultaneously, so proper punctuation and grammar was being branded into the inside of my skull. My internship “boss” handed me a stack of articles to go through and copy edit for punctuation, wording, etc.

I realized she didn’t know how to use a semi-colon. And she used it frequently. So, when I copy edited, I corrected every instance and on a bright green sticky note on the front of the stack, explained that she was using semi-colons wrong.

She wasn’t happy. And she personalized it. Deeply.

What’s funny is I mentioned the whole incident to the professor of my grammar and editing class, and evidently this whole misuse of semi-colons within the alumni mag was an ongoing joke within the English department

…. obviously had way too much time on their hands.

I had a hard time with critique, too. Now I’m at the point where, with work, I’m just like “show me what I did wrong and I’ll fix it.”

Gotta let it roll off your back.

Now I’m lost in nostalgia of my English major days.

I tend to write very concisely and very technical, and often write like I talk.

Whilst an English major, I’ve learned to hate the word “that”. We were encouraged remove it from our repertoire and focus on writing concisely and not as “wordy”. This helped a great deal with my work in criminology and technical writing.

Because 90% of the time, it’s used unnecessarily:

  • The test that she took was so difficult that she began to sweat.
  • The test she took was so difficult, she began to sweat.
  • The same girl that we saw on the bus.
  • The same girl we saw on the bus.
  • People say that they saw a ghost.
  • People say they saw a ghost.
  • He knew that they understood the rules.
  • He knew they understood the rules. 

I could do this all day.



8 thoughts on “The War on “That”

  1. I was an English major too, and not so long ago. Got my Master’s in 2012. But I also studied Linguistics. I couldn’t major in Linguistics because the college I studied in didn’t have a Linguistics program, only an emphasis in Linguistics… It gives one a different perspective of language when one studies Linguistics. I don’t fuss about grammar nearly as much as most English majors I know.

    It’s all about perspective. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I find that funny that you say that, I struggle to even grasp that English and I dribble that shit on and on and on.

    I feel like that uneducated brat amongst the alumni of the elite, no wonder I’m not that successful yet.

    Although there is one thing that I have to say, and that is that it’s not all that easy to get critiqued like that…oh dear I could do that all day!

    Ok serious now enough of that 🙂

    Ok serious now!

    It’s all good and well to say one should accept criticism but what most people get isn’t that. We are too often bombarded with shit and dribble from social media if we post something someone doesn’t agree with, but that’s rarely critique it’s just mouthfuls of shit because you dare have an opinion that differs from someone else. Sure we can pay for critique and we can pay a high price for it but while paying someone for a service may well be beneficial it can also be detrimental, it’s like paying the tax office to audit your books, they have to find something, it justifies their job. A writing critique has to find errors to justify their job and 10 different writing critiques will always find different things to pick on in the same piece of writing…so who is right? All of them, some of them, none of them.

    I accept what your saying about critique but trying to find worth while critique can be like pissing in the wind, or masturbating with a cheese grater, it might be fun initially but you learn quickly that if you keep it up you’re going to be in pain.

    Ask your WP followers to critique your work, those that actually bother to do more than just like a post rarely say more than “That’s good,” or “Well done,” Dare they say “that’s a load of shit” because it breaks the cycle of the warm fuzzy feeling and the person who types that thinks you won’t go back and read their stories. Most WP readers wont even pick up a bloody typo for you.

    So in summary and to stop me waffling on with this bullshit. I agree with what your saying critique is important no matter how its done, we shouldn’t be afraid of it, you made a typo in your last post and that’s a load of shit!

    Liked by 1 person

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