Examining the Language of Love

Examining the Language of Love
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Updated on 9 February 2015

Although it topped bestseller lists around the world, E. L. James’ erotic romance novel, Fifty Shades of Grey, was widely panned by critics for its poor use of language. The Grammarly team reviewed the book for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors, and learned that — although there were some mistakes — the errors were in alignment with similar gaffes in classic romantic literature.

Here are some of the top errors in Fifty Shades of Grey:

Punctuation errors in complex sentences: E. L. James is not the first author to include a comma in her work when a semi-colon would more appropriate, or vice versa.

Comma misuse: Many writers forget to include a comma when one is necessary, or include a comma when it is not necessary.

Wordiness: Actually, this is sort of a really common mistake. (Words like “actually,” “sort of,” and “really” add unnecessary length to your writing.)

Inappropriate colloquialisms: Although it is largely stylistic, the choice to use informal language — including contractions — can diminish the perception of your writing.

Accidentally confused words: Words like “round” and “around” are commonly confused in writing, and may not be discovered by spelling and grammar checkers.

Sentence fragments: Creating a sentence with no subject or no verb is one way to emphasize an idea. However, sentence fragments are technically errors in writing.

Determiners: Words such as “a,” “an,” and “the” help writers to be specific about what they are talking about.

Passive voice: Using the passive voice is a stylistic choice in writing — not necessarily a grammar error. However, using the passive voice can cause a lack of clarity in your writing.

Below you’ll find some classic quotes from romantic literature that show similar mistakes to those we identified in Fifty Shades of Grey. Grammarly has “graded” each quote based on its adherence to traditional grammar rules, but please note that creative writing requires that authors make stylistic choices that may be technical errors, but are not actually considered so in the context of their overall work.

So, it is in the spirit of fun (and not pedantry) that we aim to show you that the language of love really is a language of its own!

 

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