Did you say writing is easy?
The grammar police will know that the title of my post contains a clumsy error.
The reason I have used it, after having noticed it as an author’s bio on Twitter yesterday, is to highlight how easy it is for an author or writer to quickly type a 160 character or less bio on Twitter, and in the process, ruin their reputation in an instant.
The problem with the question, “Who Said Writing Is Easy?” is tense agreement.
Without going into this too deeply, the first verb is in the past, and the second verb is in the present.
To highlight the error more clearly, I’ll change the phrase from a rhetorical question to a simple active phrase with two verbs.
Tom went to London and visits the queen. Wrong.
Tom went to London and visited the Queen. Correct.
Now both of the actions agree, and occur in the past.
To correct the question in my post title, which is complicated by it using a reported speech verb and the question adverb as the subject, I will use the same verb agreement pattern.
Who said writing was easy? This agrees and is now correct.
However, depending on what was intended by the question, it could also be written in this way.
Who said, “writing is easy.” Now it is asking directly for the author of the quote, with ‘who’ being the subject.
The answer would be, “Writing is easy,” Tom famously said.
Now Tom is the subject and his famous quote can stay, as it was said, in the Present Simple.
Without digging any deeper into grammar, my point in writing this post is to say that all writers make grammatical errors.
In a book of 80,000 words, it is next to impossible not to have a few at least.
This is why having a second pair of eyes is so vital.
Whether it is an editor, sub-editor, proofreader or at the very least a friend or acquaintance with some grammatical knowledge, every text needs to be checked thoroughly, and more than once.
But just as vital to be carefully checked, and perhaps even more so, are the 160 letters hurriedly arranged into a short sentence or two, and then posted on social media for the whole world to see and read.
No potential reader in their right mind would consider glancing at a book written by an author who couldn’t manage to write a grammatically correct short bio.
Don’t kill your first chance to impress a reader, by being clumsy.
More reading: 350 Other Words For Said For Your Dialogue Writing
I started my working life as a lithographer and spent over 30 years in the printing and publishing business.
Originally from Australia, I moved to Switzerland 20 years ago. My days are spent teaching English, writing and wrestling with technology while enjoying my glorious view of Lake Geneva and the Alps.
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