If you can write a catchy sentence using I when the wording really demands me, do you choose I or me?
If fewer fits your meaning but less sounds breezier, do you go with the correct fewer or the rhythmic less?
I wondered about these questions the other day when I read an article about REI's in-store trunk show called "Less Labels, More Sizes." Of course, less is incorrect. Because you can count labels, the correct word is fewer: "Fewer Labels, More Sizes." (Read more about fewer and less in my post "A Lesson on Fewer and Less.")
REI is a sophisticated company that cares about writing. I know that because I taught business writing there for many years. Why did they choose less rather than fewer?
REI's Tessa Bondi answered my inquiry this way: "The lyrical flow of "Less Labels" was compelling to many of us. There is something about alliteration that has the power to bring a concept together."
I see REI's point. "Less labels" sounds better than "fewer labels." It's alliterative (two sequential Ls), and it communicates in three quick syllables rather than four.
I agree with REI, but as a writing teacher, I could not use "less labels." I would worry about confusing people who trust me to model correct writing. REI is not in the business of teaching writing, so it can choose catchy–if incorrect–language.
Do you make intentional mistakes because the error communicates better than correct language would?
I do in one case. I say "It's me." Although "It's I" is correct, my use of that language would distract people because we don't use it anymore. People would wonder why I was talking or writing so strangely.
In other areas, I follow traditional rules. I use "different from," not "different than." I'm careful when I choose among or between. I choose eager–not anxious–when I mean "looking forward." I still use "each other" for two people and "one another" for more than two.
I can't listen to songs that use "you and I" for a rhyme when "you and me" is correct in the context. Plenty of words rhyme with me. Why don't those lyricists keep trying?
Which mistakes do you make on purpose? Which do you tolerate because they sound good? Which drive you nuts? I look forward to reading your preferences.