Muphry’s Law

A few people I know publicly call attention to the errors in others’ written communication. They get pretty judgmental about it, too. The big offense could be the the wrong they’re, or the use of a greengrocer’s apostrophe. One person even went so far as to declare after stating the offending error, “I didn’t know you were that kind of a person.”

Then almost without skipping a beat, they’ll begin a sentence “Me and Robert…” or have some subject-verb agreement issues in their writing.

“You’re judged by your writing!” they remind us. Indeed. Yet there are plenty of people who know the language but don’t seize every opportunity to hold an error over somebody else’s head. We commonly make them ourselves—because nobody’s perfect.

Consider Muphry’s Law, a term coined by an Australian editor. The law acknowledges if you are pointing out someone’s written errors, you too will make an error in doing so. The stronger the sentiment, the greater the fault.

Of course we should be striving for great English. Above that though, shouldn’t we also be striving to be great people? And great people, I think, don’t need to vehemently condescend to those who have made an error.


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