Don't Be Bias, See The Error Of Your Ways

Don't talk to me about being 'unbias' or I will thump you hard with the nearest available object. The correct adjectival form is 'unbiased'. Similarly, if you display a bias against something, that means you are biased.

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I genuinely don't know why people find this particular rule hard to grasp. Perhaps the offenders aren't listening carefully. The error pops up frequently in writing of all kinds. Here's the New Zealand Herald earlier this month:

Cooper insists that his advice is independent and unbias.

Incidentally, the Macquarie Dictionary does not include 'unbias' as a verb meaning "to remove bias", which is a usage some online dictionaries suggest is OK. But even if you find that pseudo-verb acceptable, it wouldn't change the fact that "unbiased" and "biased" are the correct adjectival forms. All the morons who have littered the web with the phrase "don't be bias" need to realise they are mistaken.

Lifehacker's Mind Your Language column offers bossy advice on improving your writing.


    My girlfriend has trouble with the correct usage of bias. English isn't her first language but then she speaks 3 languages, has a degree in International Business that she earned in Australia and works for an international company that operates in Australia, India, the US, South East Asia and the UK.

    All the morons who have littered the web with the phrase “don’t be bias” need to realise they are mistaken.

    It's true that there are morons in this world Angus but how about we reserve it for people who really deserve it?

      Methinks this article was not directed to your girlfriend...

      Are you honestly expecting Angus to include a comprehensive list of those to which this generalisation would not apply?

      If so, then you may fall into a different category of moron.

        The point of these columns is apparently to offer "bossy advice on improving your writing." Seeing as the point is apparently to help people improve their understanding of grammar I'm not really sure why it would need to be bossy, but in any case calling your 'students' morons is just insulting and hardly likely to foster their learning.

        If lifehacker actually wants to do something unique and interesting why not have an overly polite grammar nazi instead of a pedantic and nasty one; of the later the web already has plenty and they don't seem to be helping much.

    How about we save fixing this one until we can convince people that breath and breathe are not the same word, that there is a difference between their, there and they're, that your and you're are not interchangeable (and are never spelled 'ur') and that "it's" means "it is" not "belonging to it".

    Can you have a crack at sorting out "then" from "than" ?

    Amazes me that people can substitute then for than, but they do!

    I find many of the people that make this mistake don't have English as their first language.

    Anyway, the only way to comfort an angry grammar nazi is this:

    Their. There. Angus. They're. Their.

    I can't say I've ever seen someone use the word "bias" in that manner before. The funny thing is that I read the title as "don't be biased" before I realised what was actually written.

    I've never heard of anyone having a problem with proper usage of the word bias. As a matter of fact, when I read it in the article title, my reaction was, "WTF? Lifehacker, fix your lazy GenYtexter grammar, because that's not right and it bugs me."

      I have. I was actually coming in here to correct them until I saw the article was talking about that which I was going to correct.

    Can we be a little more attentive to the context next time? A little common-sense may be in order also, as, obviously Angus isn't going to go out of his way to make a personal attack on anyone within reasonable justification. He is referring to the people who really have no excuse to be grammatically incorrect in their usage of the English language.

    I feel you were actually attempting to find error in Angus' article.

      A writer considers their audience when they write an article. The nominal point of this column series is to help people to improve their writing so presumably the intent in this piece is to educate those of lifehacker's readers who are unaware of the correct usage of 'bias'. Now supposing that those readers Angus (may) have meant to exclude from his blanket 'morons' label somehow realise they aren't being referenced, he is still calling his actual target audience morons. Incidentally, it is not for the reader to guess what the writer is thinking, rather it is for the writer to relay their meaning clearly to the reader through their words.

      In any case, if the actual intent of this series is to call people who struggle with correct grammatical usage morons then by all means, go ahead, but please don't try to write it off as being educational when clearly that is not the intent.

    The expression I have difficulty with at the moment is "flippant".
    I am used to the use of "flipping" as a euphemism, but flippant used in this manner just confuses me, as I'm sure they don't actually find everything they are saying hilarious or trivial.
    The insertion of "argh" into unusual places in phrases also makes me wonder if the idea of reading over what you've written to check if it sounds like any language on earth, let alone your own, actually exists anymore.
    Words like biased losing their endings is fairly common in Aust. conversational English, I find.
    The two examples I mentioned are direct from the US, via Facebook and similar media, and of bizarre universality currently.

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