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Gove gets Fry advice over grammar

Published 23/06/2015

Michael Gove has received advice from an unlikely quarter about improving his standards of speech
Michael Gove has received advice from an unlikely quarter about improving his standards of speech

Michael Gove has revealed he was taken to task by actor Stephen Fry over his "errors linguistically".

The Justice Secretary is a renowned stickler for good grammar and details of fresh guidelines setting out how he wants civil servants to prepare letters and papers emerged at the weekend.

But the Justice Secretary admitted that the instructions had prompted the broadcaster to point out his own linguistic misdemeanours.

Mr Gove told BBC Radio 4's World At One programme: "It's excited quite a lot of comment. There was a very funny article that took me to task in The Times today by Oliver Kamm and also I received a text from Stephen Fry correcting me on some of my own errors linguistically."

Instructions posted on the Ministry of Justice's intranet tell officials to write "make sure" instead of "ensure" and avoid using the word "impact" as a verb.

The guidelines, entitled ministerial correspondence preferences, seem to be an expansion of an email entitled "10 golden rules" that Mr Gove circulated to staff when education secretary.

The latest document advises that "the phrases best-placed and high-quality are joined with a dash, very few others are".

During the radio interview, Mr Gove was played a clip of himself talking about "operationalising" everything that was in the Conservative manifesto

Asked if the word should be put on his banned list, he replied: "Yes, I think I will have to have a word with the keepers of the arc of the English language. I think operationalising is a particularly ugly construction unfitted for broadcast."

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