William Safire

William
Safire
1929
2009

American Author, Columnist, Journalist, Lexicographer and Presidential Speechwriter, Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

Author Quotes

Fumblerules: Remember to never split an infinitive.
A preposition is something never to end a sentence with.
The passive voice should never be used.
Avoid run-on sentences they are hard to read.
Don't use no double negatives.
Use the semicolon properly, always use it where it is appropriate; and never where it isn't.
Reserve the apostrophe for it's proper use and omit it when its not needed.
Do not put statements in the negative form.
Verbs have to agree with their subjects.
No sentence fragments.
Proofread carefully to see if you words out.
Avoid commas, that are not necessary.
If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
A writer must not shift your point of view.
Eschew dialect, irregardless.
And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.
Don't overuse exclamation marks!!!
Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.
Hyphenate between sy-
llables and avoid un-necessary hyphens.
Write all adverbial forms correct.
Don't use contractions in formal writing.
Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
It is incumbent on us to avoid archaisms.
If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
Steer clear of incorrect forms of verbs that have snuck in the language.
Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
Never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.
If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times, resist hyperbole.
Also, avoid awkward or affected alliteration.
Don't string too many prepositional phrases together unless you are walking through the valley of the shadow of death.
Always pick on the correct idiom.
"Avoid overuse of 'quotation "marks."'"
The adverb always follows the verb.
Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague; They're old hat; seek viable alternatives.

Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
Employ the vernacular.
Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
Contractions aren't necessary.
Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
One should never generalize.
Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."
Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
Don't be redundant; don't use more words than necessary; it's highly superfluous.
Be more or less specific.
Understatement is always best.
One-word sentences? Eliminate.
Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
Who needs rhetorical questions?
Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
Capitalize every sentence and remember always end it with a point.

At a certain point, what people mean when they use a word becomes its meaning.

I want my questions answered by an alert and experienced politician, prepared to be grilled and quoted -- not my hand held by an old smoothie.

Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.

The perfect Christmas gift for a sportscaster, as all fans of sports cliché.

When duty calls, that is when character counts.

Because that would be foolish politically, and I think there's a lot of practicality going on.

I welcome new words, or old words used in new ways, provided the result is more precision, added color or greater expressiveness.

No one flower can ever symbolize this nation. America is a bouquet.

The phrase New World Order is Bush's baby, even if he shares its popularization with Gorbachev. Forget the Hitler 'new order' root F.D.R. used the phrase earlier.

When I need to know the meaning of a word, I look it up in a dictionary.

Better to be a jerk that knees than a knee that jerks.

If America cannot win a war in a week, it begins negotiating with itself.

Nobody stands taller than those willing to stand corrected.

The right to do something does not mean that doing it is right.

When infuriated by an outrageous column, do not be suckered into responding with an abusive e-mail. Pundits so targeted thumb through these red-faced electronic missives with delight, saying 'Hah! Got to 'em.'

Brushing aside the stern criticism, Safire immediately debated whether it should be damn, the way it sounds, or damned, as the past participle of the verb, to damn. The ed on some words is simply slipping away, he points out. We're seeing more barbecue chicken, whip cream and corn beef. His conclusion: Ears are sloppy and eyes are precise; accordingly, speech can be loose but writing should be tight.

If you re-read your work, you can find on re-reading a great deal of repetition can be avoided by re-reading and editing.

Not long ago, I advertised for perverse rules of grammar, along the lines of "Remember to never split an infinitive" and "The passive voice should never be used." The notion of making a mistake while laying down rules ("Thimk," "We Never Make Misteaks") is highly unoriginal, and it turns out that English teachers have been circulating lists of fumble-rules for years. As owner of the world's largest collection, and with thanks to scores of readers, let me pass along a bunch of these never-say-neverisms: Avoid run-on sentences they are hard to read. Don't use no double negatives. Use the semicolon properly, always use it where it is appropriate; and never where it isn't. Reserve the apostrophe for it's proper use and omit it when it’s not needed. Do not put statements in the negative form. Verbs has to agree with their subjects. No sentence fragments. Proofread carefully to see if you any words out. Avoid commas, that are not necessary. If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing. A writer must not shift your point of view. Eschew dialect, irregardless. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction. Don't overuse exclamation marks!!! Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents. Writers should always hyphenate between syllables and avoid un-necessary hyph-ens. Write all adverbial forms correct. Don't use contractions in formal writing. Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided. It is incumbent on us to avoid archaisms. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is. Steer clear of incorrect forms of verbs that have snuck in the language. Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixed metaphors. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky. Never, ever use repetitive redundancies. Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing. If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times, resist hyperbole. Also, avoid awkward or affected alliteration. Don't string too many prepositional phrases together unless you are walking through the valley of the shadow of death. Always pick on the correct idiom. "Avoid overuse of 'quotation "marks."'" The adverb always follows the verb. Last but not least, avoid clichés like the plague; seek viable alternatives.

The tension between the governed and the governing is what makes the world go 'round. It's not love, it's that tension, because that tension exists in love affairs. The whole idea of control is at the heart of human relationships. Control and resistance to control.

Cast aside any column about two subjects. It means the pundit chickened out on the hard decision about what to write about that day.

If you want to "get in touch with your feelings," fine, talk to yourself. We all do. But if you want to communicate with another thinking human being, get in touch with your thoughts. Put them in order, give them a purpose, use them to persuade, to instruct, to discover, to seduce. The secret way to do this is to write it down, and then cut out the confusing parts.

One challenge to the arts in America is the need to make the arts, especially the classic masterpieces, accessible and relevant to today's audience.

The trick is to start early in our careers the stress-relieving avocation that we will need later as a mind-exercising final vocation. We can quit a job, but we quit fresh involvement at our mental peril.

Composition is a discipline; it forces us to think. If you want to 'get in touch with your feelings,' fine — talk to yourself; we all do. But, if you want to communicate with another thinking human being, get in touch with your thoughts. Put them in order; give them a purpose; use them to persuade, to instruct, to discover, to seduce. The secret way to do this is to write it down and then cut out the confusing parts.

Author Picture
First Name
William
Last Name
Safire
Birth Date
1929
Death Date
2009
Bio

American Author, Columnist, Journalist, Lexicographer and Presidential Speechwriter, Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom