First we banded together. Then we were banned together.

Dear Internets:

Please stop noting that people have “banned together” for a cause.

It is “banded together.”

Think about what you’re writing. When you band together, you’re getting together in a group. That’s the present tense. If it’s already happened, then you’ve banded together.

Banned is the past tense of ban, as in to forbid. People or things would only be banned together if they were forbidden at the same time, or in a single action.

It’s easy to understand the confusion, since the words sound alike and in spoken English it sometimes seems natural to drop the ‘d‘ from the verb ‘banded‘ and pronounce it ‘band‘ (or ‘banned‘). People just need to be more careful about it in print.

There are a number of clever or joking “banned together” uses out there on the web, so it’s hard to get good stats on the frequency of this error, but it’s far from zero. Here’s what comes up with a couple of reasonably targeted comparisons:

Recent Google results:

they banded together – 912,000 hits
they banned together – 35,200 total hits
let’s band together – 441,000 hits
let’s banned together – 287 total hits

Here’s one that kills me because the headline apparently at first used the wrong “banned,” but was then corrected. Unfortunately, the link wasn’t corrected, so this pops up on the first page when you make the right Google search.

Here’s another recent use, noting how groups kicked from the Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade “banned together” to create their own parade. It’s easier to understand this particular mistake, since ‘banned‘ is a word that would certainly have been in both the author’s and readers’ minds.

But understanding isn’t agreement. Get your act together, Internets, and stop depending on your spellchecker to correct your errors. That’s serious laziness.

Thanks for listening, Internets. Now go back to whatever it was you were doing, and whoever it was you were doing it with, before you were collectively banned.

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About thebettereditor

Chris holds a BA degree in history from the University of Virginia and a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Degree in writing from the University of Southern Maine (Stonecoast). He has worked extensively with professional and semi-professional writers and enthusiastic amateurs for about 20 years. He has several years experience in scientific publishing, but has also worked in information technology, insurance, health care, and education (he taught writing at the university level for a number of years). Since 2011, he's also specialized in helping small business meet their writing and editing needs on a budget.
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