Why I'm so grateful to the British government

So now they've brought out grammar guidance for teachers, fearing that many do not know the basics. That's kind of them.

In it, they tell us that sentences need full stops and capital letters, verbs tell us what is happening in a sentence, and - my favourite - that punctuation is what is used to 'chunk up text'.

Chunk up?


Is it me, or do they need advice about avoiding colloquialisms in what is meant to be intelligent writing?


On a related topic, I hear that I missed 'National Punctuation Day'. No longer do any of my friends need to worry about me checking their grammar and writing skills out when they write to/email me. If I can't even spot that it's National Punctuation Day, I doubt whether they have any reason for anxiety. My observation skills are obviously not what they're used to be.


  1. I love the note - "These training materials are not for use with children." As if the little innocents would be totally confused by examples like "The big dog is barking." Maybe you could say "The little puppy is cute" instead. Or; maybe? I, totally: missed, the! point. Happy Punctuation Day!

  2. YOU missed National Punctuation Day? I am horrified.

    I think you must lay off the Internet porn Fran.

  3. Lesley, I agree. I think there should be another note saying, 'These training materials are patronising and are not for use with a straight face.'

  4. Amanda - thanks, bud. Was just wondering whether to let my boss know about my blog. Now, perhaps not ... You can't be trusted.

  5. The phrase "chunk [text] up" sounds like a euphemism for vomit. Is it an attempt to sound casual? It's as though they feel bad about foisting grammar on people — again — so they want to take the edge off by using what they imagine to be down-to-earth, everyday language. Except that before now (and I'm guessing wildly here) nobody in the history of English has ever written or spoken about chunking text up.

  6. Stan, I thought exactly the same. Let's be all trendy-trendy and we'll be more convincing. Dur. Wrong again.

  7. And, Stan, I've googled 'chunk up' and I can see lots of uses, but none which I think the Education Department would claim to have meant. The Urban Dictionary has some interesting ones ...

  8. So it does! Someone should tell the government.


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