Poetry Forum Areas

Introduce Yourself

New to PoetrySoup? Introduce yourself here. Tell us something about yourself.

Looking for a Poem

Can't find a poem you've read before? Looking for a poem for a special person or an occasion? Ask other member for help.

Writing Poetry

Ways to improve your poetry. Post your techniques, tips, and creative ideas how to write better.

High Critique

For poets who want unrestricted constructive criticism. This is NOT a vanity workshop. If you do not want your poem seriously critiqued, do not post here. Constructive criticism only. PLEASE Only Post One Poem a Day!!!

How do I...?

Ask PoetrySoup Members how to do something or find something on PoetrySoup.



You have an ad blocker! We understand, but...

PoetrySoup is a small privately owned website. Our means of support comes from advertising revenue. We want to keep PoetrySoup alive, make it better, and keep it free. Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on PoetrySoup. See how to enable ads while keeping your ad blocker active. Thank you!

Rules for Correct Writing

Rules for Correct Writing

More than a century ago the great Scotch rhetorician Campbell framed five canons or rules for correct writing. They have never been improved. They should be learned by heart, thoroughly mastered, and constantly practiced by every writer and speaker. They are as follows:

Canon 1.—When, of two words or phrases in equally good use, one is susceptible of two significations and the other of but one, preference should be given to the latter: e. g., admittance is better than admission, as the latter word also means confession; relative is to be preferred to relation, as the latter also means the telling of a story.

Canon 2.—In doubtful cases regard should be given to the analogy of the language; might better should be preferred to had better, and would rather is better than had rather.

Canon 3.—The simpler and briefer form should be preferred, other things being equal, e. g., omit the bracketed words in expressions such as, open (up), meet (together), follow (after), examine (into), trace (out), bridge (over), crave (for), etc.

<a name="Page_21">[Pg 21]Canon 4.—Between two forms of expression in equally good use, prefer the one which is more euphonious: e. g., most beautiful is better than beautifullest, and more free is to be preferred to freer.

Canon 5.—In cases not covered by the four preceding canons, prefer that which conforms to the older usage: e. g., begin is better than commence.