Fifty Shades of Grey: Not as badly written as you think

comparing mistakes in classic literature to fifty shades of grey

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 celebrated romances. It seems that the language of love really is a language of its own!

Grammarly has reviewed a list of frequent grammar mistakes from Fifty Shades of Grey, as well as some quotes from classic romances that also make these mistakes — from Tender is the Night to Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice.

Thanks to Grammarly for this insightful and interesting post and infographic exploring the ‘errors’ in Fifty Shades of Grey.

9 Grammar Mistakes in Fifty Shades of Grey

Many of the non-conventional spelling, grammar, and punctuation choices that are made by authors of a creative work (a book, a poem, etc.) are stylistic – and therefore not actually writing errors. However, if we were to get technical, we would be able to find similar potential writing issues across our favorite love stories.

Punctuation errors in complex sentences

    1. 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.

Original: His gray gaze holds mine. He’s so unnerving. I want to look away but I’m caught – spellbound.

Suggested Edit: He’s so unnerving. I want to look away, but I’m caught – spellbound.

Original: Oh my. My heartbeat picks up again, this feels so… so good.

Suggested Edit: Oh my. My heartbeat picks up again; this feels so… so good.

Original: Finally, my medulla oblongata recalls its purpose, I breathe.

Suggested Edit: Finally, my medulla oblongata recalls its purpose, and I breathe.

The Notebook, by Nicholas Sparks, includes a similar writing error:

Original: I am nothing special, of this I am sure. I am a common man with common thoughts and I’ve led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten, but I’ve loved another with all my heart and soul, and to me, this has always been enough.

Suggested Edit: I am nothing special, of this I am sure. I am a common man with common thoughts, and I’ve led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten, but I’ve loved another with all my heart and soul, and to me, this has always been enough. 

Comma misuse

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

Original: I emerge from the suite to find Christian Grey waiting, leaning up against the wall, looking like a male model in a pose for some glossy high-end magazine.

Suggested Edit: I emerge from the suite to find Christian Grey waiting, leaning up against the wall, looking like a male model in a pose for some glossy, high-end magazine.

Original: The thought comes unbidden into my mind, and my face flames. I bite my lip and stare down at my hands again not liking where my wayward thoughts are headed.

Suggested Edit: The thought comes unbidden into my mind, and my face flames. I bite my lip and stare down at my hands again not liking where my wayward thoughts are headed.

Original: I open my eyes, and for a moment, I’m tranquil and serene, enjoying the strange unfamiliar surroundings. I have no idea where I am.

Suggested Edit: I open my eyes, and for a moment, I’m tranquil and serene, enjoying the strange, unfamiliar surroundings. I have no idea where I am.

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, includes a similar writing error:

Original: Every atom of your flesh is as dear to me as my own: in pain and sickness it would still be dear.

Suggested Edit: Every atom of your flesh is as dear to me as my own: in pain and sickness, it would still be dear.

A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway, includes a similar writing error:

Original: We would be together and have our books and at night be warm in bed together with the windows open and the stars bright.

Suggested Edit: We would be together and have our books and at night, be warm in bed together with the windows open and the stars bright.

Wordiness

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

Original: He’s so passionate, mesmerizing. This is obviously his obsession, the way he is… I can’t take my eyes off him. He really, really wants this. He stops talking and gazes at me.

Suggested Edit: He’s so passionate, mesmerizing. This is obviously his obsession, the way he is… I can’t take my eyes off him. He really, really wants this. He stops talking and gazes at me.

Original: “I have rules, and I want you to comply with them. They are for your benefit and for my pleasure. If you follow these rules to my satisfaction, I shall reward you. If you don’t, I shall punish you, and you will learn,” he whispers.

Suggested Edit: “I have rules, and I want you to comply with them. They are for your benefit and for my pleasure. If you follow these rules to my satisfaction, I shall reward you. If you don’t, I shall punish you, and you will learn,” he whispers.

Original: Beside the door stands a substantial mahogany chest of drawers, each drawer slim as if designed to contain specimens in a crusty old museum. I wonder briefly what the drawers actually do hold. Do I want to know?

Suggested Edit: Beside the door stands a substantial mahogany chest of drawers, each drawer slim as if designed to contain specimens in a crusty old museum. I wonder briefly what the drawers actually do hold. Do I want to know?

The Portrait of a Lady, by Henry James, includes a similar writing error:

 

Original: “It has made me better, loving you,” he said on another occasion; “it has made me wiser, and easier, and brighter. I used to want a great many things before, and to be angry that I didn’t have them. Theoretically, I was satisfied, as I once told you. I flattered myself that I had limited my wants. But I was subject to irritation; I used to have morbid, sterile, hateful fits of hunger, of desire. Now I am really satisfied, because I can’t think of anything better. It is just as when one has been trying to spell out a book in the twilight, and suddenly the lamp comes in. I had been putting out my eyes over the book of life, and finding nothing to reward me for my pains; but now that I can read it properly I see that it’s a delightful story.

Suggested Edit: “It has made me better, loving you,” he said on another occasion; “it has made me wiser, and easier, and brighter. I used to want a great many things before, and to be angry that I didn’t have them. Theoretically, I was satisfied, as I once told you. I flattered myself that I had limited my wants. But I was subject to irritation; I used to have morbid, sterile, hateful fits of hunger, of desire. Now I am really satisfied, because I can’t think of anything better. It is just as when one has been trying to spell out a book in the twilight, and suddenly the lamp comes in. I had been putting out my eyes over the book of life, and finding nothing to reward me for my pains; but now that I can read it properly I see that it’s a delightful story.

The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton, includes a similar error:

Original: “Each time you happen to me all over again.”

Suggested Edit: Each time you happen to me all over again.

Colloquialisms

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

Original: I’m much more of a curl-up-with-a-book-in-a-comfy-chair-by-the-fire kind of girl. I’m glad I can make my shift as it gives me something to focus on that isn’t Christian Grey.

Suggested Edit:  I am much more of a curl-up-with-a-book-in-a-comfy-chair-by-the-fire kind of girl. I am glad I can make my shift as it gives me something to focus on that is notChristian Grey.

Original: I open my eyes, and I’m draped in Christian Grey. He’s wrapped around me like a victory flag.

Suggested Edit:  I open my eyes, and I am draped in Christian Grey. He is wrapped around me like a victory flag.

 

 

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, by Louis de Bernières, includes a similar error:

 

Original: When you fall in love, it is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake, and then it subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots are to become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the desire to mate every second of the day. It is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every part of your body. No… don’t blush. I am telling you some truths. For that is just being in love; which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over, when being in love has burned away. Doesn’t sound very exciting, does it? But it is!

Suggested Edit: When you fall in love, it is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake, and then it subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots are to become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the desire to mate every second of the day. It is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every part of your body. No… do not blush. I am telling you some truths. For that is just being in love; which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over, when being in love has burned away. It does not sound very exciting, does it? But it is!

Accidentally confused words

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

Original: “Kate, how could you out me to Ray?” I hiss at the first opportunity we won’t be over-heard.

Suggested Edit: “Kate, how could you out me to Ray?” I hiss at the first opportunity we won’t be overheard.

Original: She takes her time, not intimidated by a thousand people gawp-ing at her. She smiles when she’s ready, looks up at the captivated throng, and launches eloquently into her speech.

Suggested Edit:  She takes her time, not intimidated by a thousand people gawping at her. She smiles when she’s ready, looks up at the captivated throng, and launches eloquently into her speech.

Original: She doesn’t think to question my explanation, because I am one of the most un-coordinated people in Washington State.

Suggested Edit: She doesn’t think to question my explanation, because I am one of the most uncoordinated people in Washington State.

 

Tender is the Night, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, includes a similar error:

 

Original: “Think how you love me,” she whispered. “I don’t ask you to love me always like this, but I ask you to remember. Somewhere inside me there’ll always be the person I am to-night.

Suggested Edit: “Think how you love me,” she whispered. “I don’t ask you to love me always like this, but I ask you to remember. Somewhere inside me there’ll always be the person I am tonight.

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.

Original: Slowly the outside world invades my senses, and oh my, what an invasion. I am floating, my limbs soft and languid, utterly spent.

Suggested Edit:  Slowly the outside world invades my senses, and oh my, what an invasion. I am floating, my limbs are soft and languid, utterly spent.

Original: Do you really feel like this or do you think you ought to feel like this? Two very different things.

Suggested Edit: Do you really feel like this or do you think you ought to feel like this? Those are two very different things.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling, includes a similar error:

Original: “Dumbledore watched her fly away, and as her silvery glow faded he turned back to Snape, and his eyes were full of tears.
“After all this time?”
“Always,” said Snape.”

Suggested Edit: “Dumbledore watched her fly away, and as her silvery glow faded he turned back to Snape, and his eyes were full of tears.
“Do you still love her after all this time?”
“I will always love her,” said Snape.”

Choke, by Chuck Palahniuk, includes a similar error:

Original: What I want is to be needed. What I need is to be indispensable to somebody. Who I need is somebody that will eat up all my free time, my ego, my attention. Somebody addicted to me. A mutual addiction.

Suggested Edit: Original: What I want is to be needed. What I need is to be indispensable to somebody. Who I need is somebody that will eat up all my free time, my ego, my attention. I need somebody who is addicted to me. I need a mutual addiction.

Determiners

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

Original: I flush and glance nervously at Taylor, who remains impassive, eyes on road.

Suggested Edit:  I flush and glance nervously at Taylor, who remains impassive, eyes on the road.

Original: My first interview went well, but it was for a larger conglomerate with offices based throughout the US, and I would be one of many editorial assistants there.

Suggested Edit: My first interview went well, but it was for a larger conglomerate with offices based throughout the US, and I would be one of the many editorial assistants there.

Original: I still prefer my title to yours, in so many different ways. It is lucky that I am master of my own destiny and no one castigates me.

Suggested Edit: I still prefer my title to yours, in so many different ways. It is lucky that I am the master of my own destiny and no one castigates me.

 

 

Doctor Zhivago, by Boris Pasternak, includes a similar error:

 

Original: You and I, it’s as though we have been taught to kiss in heaven and sent down to earth together, to see if we know what we were taught.

Suggested Edit: You and I, it’s as though we have been taught to kiss in heaven and sent down to the earth together, to see if we know what we were taught.

Prepositions

Prepositions help to show where (or when) one thing is in relation to another. Correctly using prepositions helps readers to better visualize what is happening in your writing.

Original: Please him! He wants me to please him! I think my mouth drops open. Please Christian Grey. And I realize, in that moment, that yes, that’s exactly what I want to do. I want him to be damned delighted with me. It’s a revelation.

Suggested Edit:  Please him! He wants me to please him! I think my mouth drops open. Please Christian Grey. And I realize, at that moment, that yes, that’s exactly what I want to do. I want him to be damned delighted with me. It’s a revelation.

Original: “Don’t you look so innocent. Why didn’t you give me a biography? He made me feel like such an idiot for skimping on basic research.” Kate clamps a hand to her mouth.

Suggested Edit:  “Don’t you look so innocent. Why didn’t you give me a biography? He made me feel like such an idiot for skimping on basic research.” Kate clamps a hand overher mouth.

The Tempest, by William Shakespeare, includes a similar error:

Original: We are such stuff as dreams are made on; and our little life is rounded with a sleep.

Suggested Edit: We are such stuff on which dreams are made; and our little life is rounded with a sleep.

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.

Original: There’s a knock on the door, and my heart leaps into my throat. Is it? Kate answers the door and is nearly knocked off her feet by Elliot. He seizes her in a Hollywood-style clinch that moves quickly into a European art house embrace.

Suggested Edit: There’s a knock on the door, and my heart leaps into my throat. Is it? Kate answers the door and Elliot nearly knocks her off her feet. He seizes her in a Hollywood-style clinch that moves quickly into a European art house embrace.

Original: “Why are you here?” I ask, ignoring his question. My tears have miraculously ceased, but I’m left with dry heaves racking my body.

Suggested Edit:  “Why are you here?” I ask, ignoring his question. My tears have miraculously ceased, but I’m left with dry heaves are racking my body.

Original: He is totally beguiling, and I’m bewitched. I place my hand in his.

Suggested Edit: He is totally beguiling, and he has bewitched me. I place my hand in his.

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen, includes a similar error:

Original: In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.
Suggested Edit: In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings I will not be repressed my feelings. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.

fifty shades of grey not the worst written story ever

Sponsored post

1 COMMENT

Please share your thoughts!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.