The Editorial Apartment

Beware of zombie rules


Some people still stick to rules like these:

  • A sentence can’t start with the conjunction “and,” “but” or “or.”
  • “Between” shouldn’t be used with more than two people or objects.
  • Don’t use “over” to mean “more than.” Use “over” only for the spatial.
  • Never use “while” to mean “although.”
  • “Who” refers only to people and “that” only to animals and objects.

But these are false rules, often still taught as absolute must-follows. Such rules are called zombie rules, I recently discovered. See this article from The Baltimore Sun for a list of other zombie rules.


Author: copyeditorgwen

I am a copy editor and my office is my apartment. I copyedit or proofread a wide range of digital and print marketing communications, as well as books and textbooks. Contact me if you need editorial help. My rates are reasonable, my work thorough, my turnaround fast. Visit my WordPress website:

3 thoughts on “Beware of zombie rules

  1. Interesting, but I would expect a copy editor to appreciate consistency, if nothing else. Even if you don’t like the “zombie rules” — and there are good reasons for most of them — every text should go one way or the other and stick with it.

  2. Pingback: Rules of English you can break—or are already breaking | The Editorial Apartment

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