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Frequently Seen Grammar Errors

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NancyBrooke
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2008 12:43 pm    Post subject: Frequently Seen Grammar Errors Reply with quote

Frequently, as I read fanfic, I see more and more of the same grammatical errors. Some, I have had to concede, are changes in style that have occurred in writing since I was a youngster so long ago sitting at my chair with attached desk, and scribbling in a black and white composition book. Ah! The good old days ... Others, however, just seem to be proliferating like green fireflies and grey squirrels, gradually becoming the norm by simple virtue of their numbers.

This must not be allowed to happen.

If you, like me, have noted any proliferating grammar misuse, I hope you will post it here in an effort to help and educate.

Similarly, if you have any grammar questions, please feel free to ask them here. There are among us professionals in this area and perhaps if we show them proper obeisance they will deign to help us.

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NancyBrooke
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2008 12:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I start:

Capitalize direct forms of address.

"I love you, Dad" not "I love you, dad"

and

"Yo, Chief, pass the salt," not "Yo, chief, pass the salt".

Or, to put it another way, if you can substitute a name, as in "You're so hawt, Boromir" for "You're so hawt, Captain", capitalize the title that replaces the name.

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NB Duchess of WHY TF Cant'chu Punctuate, First Duchess of F*&(ing &*ll yur comma placement sux!
Nazgul #3 in charge of ducking & sniggering

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NancyBrooke
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2008 12:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's another one:

While it seems to be correct to capitalize the first word of a quoted sentence (and when that started I can only guess), do not put a period at the end of the quoted sentence, but only at the end of the sentence that contains the quote.

e.g.: "He said 'I hate this grammar stuff' to me just yesterday!"

not

"He said 'I hate this grammar stuff.' to me just yesterday!"

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NB Duchess of WHY TF Cant'chu Punctuate, First Duchess of F*&(ing &*ll yur comma placement sux!
Nazgul #3 in charge of ducking & sniggering

Garo golf a conu ned i eneth aran an ir ho delitha ad
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Alassante
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Joined: 10 Dec 2004
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2008 1:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

These aren't grammar I suppose - more incorrect spelling of a word.

loose - instead of lose is soooo often used

You can lose a shoe but you don't want your shoelaces to be loose.

And this one makes me crazy. I see it everywhere from fanfiction to graphics, even on websites all the time.

Your - instead of you're

Your is a possessive word: your hat, your car, your friend

You're means you are: You're going. You're staying. You're using the word your incorrectly.

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NeumeIndil



Joined: 06 Jun 2005
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2008 6:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm ready to start a home for abused and wayward homophones. One dorm for there/their/they're, another for then/than, another for to/too/two, etc.

Capitalization of titles, honestly, wasn't covered very heavily in my English language classes (only 20 years ago). Nor was it covered well by most college level remedial English professors (within the last 5). I think, in public school at least, staff are so worried about making sure kids can "read", they skip over proper grammar until it's time to cram for a standardized test. Sad And it's not as though people speak with anything resembling text book grammar any more either. Instant messaging, I think, shot that in the foot a decade ago.

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Viv
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 9:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

NB, you know I keep a list. Wink But honestly, I have to say that the quality of writing in fanfiction (at least in the fandoms I read) has gone up substantially over the last five years or so. People even have lengthy discussions about point-of-view nowadays and how to maintain a tight third. *bounce*

So overall, my grammar complaints are fewer now. I've also mellowed in my old age.

The thing, grammatically, that still chafes a bit is dangling participles. I think it's easy to overlook them just because the author knows who the subject of the sentence is, so it takes a couple readings to suss out the error. For instance:

Riding hot and sweaty and grim over the charred plains, Eomer's stallion suddenly pulled up short by a rock.

The fangirl in me is hoping that it's Eomer who's all hot and sweaty and grim (rowr), but the sentence is telling me that it's his horse. Kind of a squee let-down, innit?

Although it doesn't solve all dangling participles, just avoiding any -ing words helps a whole heckuva lot. (Besides,it tightens up the writing style.)
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eiranae
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 12:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had a problem with one. Viv helped me with it. Very Happy Don't exactly know what to call it, but here's the example.

Eomer looked down into her eyes, thinking of what they would look like after he kissed her.

I always used to forget the comma before thinking.

Another one I have a question about is the compound sentence punctuation. I was taught to put a comma before the conjunction, but I keep seeing sentences (even in published literature) that have no comma. Is this a new rule? Am I wrong or are they?

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elea24



Joined: 20 Aug 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 1:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have to admit, I'm probably guilty of quite a few grammar mistakes, but mostly it's because I sort of write as I'm thinking and so my fingers can fluff over certain keys. I make the same mistakes with different spellings. Not because I don't know the difference, but just because I'm writing quickly and being absentminded and then miss them when I check. That's why betas are wonderful.

One thing that I notice on other written work is when a comma is missing in forms of address.
So, "I love you Dad" instead of "I love you, Dad".

Also the missing commas after speech, such as:

'I love summer' she said

instead of

'I love summer,' she said
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Viv
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 2:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

eiranae wrote:
Another one I have a question about is the compound sentence punctuation. I was taught to put a comma before the conjunction, but I keep seeing sentences (even in published literature) that have no comma. Is this a new rule? Am I wrong or are they?


Depends. Sometimes you need a comma in front of a conjunction, and sometimes you don't. What a horribly confusing language we're writing in!

For instance:

Quote:
She ate an apple and a pear.


...requires no comma. That's because the conjunction "and" links two parts of the predicate. Where you need a comma is when the conjunction links two independent clauses -- that is, two phrases that include both a subject and a predicate. Such as:

Quote:
She ate an apple, and she kept a pear for later.


Two subjects: she and she. Two predicates: "ate an apple" and "kept a pear for later."

Now, if the sentence had been...

Quote:
She ate an apple and kept the pear for later.


... you wouldn't need the comma either, because although you have two predicates ("ate an apple" and "kept the pear for later"), you have only one subject: "she."

Now, having said all that, I do see plenty of published sentences that leave out the comma even when the conjunction is linking two independent clauses. In that example above -- "She ate the apple, and she kept the pear for later" -- you very well might see it without the comma. Some writing styles are "down" styles, meaning that they prefer to use the comma (and capital letters, and semicolons, and lots of other special punctuation) as infrequently as possible. Associated Press style is a "down" style, which is why you might have seen the comma missing in newspapers and magazines.

In short: the missing comma is rarely an error flat-out, but including it often aids clarity, and omitting it does tend to annoy English grammar-school teachers all over. Wink
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Viv
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 2:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

elea24 wrote:
I make the same mistakes with different spellings. Not because I don't know the difference, but just because I'm writing quickly and being absentminded and then miss them when I check. That's why betas are wonderful.


Me too. Smile I make tons of errors when I'm in my writing zone and typing as fast as my brain can formulate words. And then, when I'm editing my own stuff, I only catch about 80 percent of those errors. Betas have saved me from some incredibly embarrassing whoppers.
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eiranae
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 2:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Now, having said all that, I do see plenty of published sentences that leave out the comma even when the conjunction is linking two independent clauses. In that example above -- "She ate the apple, and she kept the pear for later" -- you very well might see it without the comma. Some writing styles are "down" styles, meaning that they prefer to use the comma (and capital letters, and semicolons, and lots of other special punctuation) as infrequently as possible. Associated Press style is a "down" style, which is why you might have seen the comma missing in newspapers and magazines.


That must be what I've seen. I've seen the same thing with regards to...complex sentences, I think they're called?

ex. I was taught:

When the dependent clause is at the beginning of the sentence, you should put a comma before the independent clause.

I've seen the comma left out in that scenario as well.

I really appreciate this thread, btw, Nancy. I do need to improve my grammar with regards to punctuation especially.

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Alassante
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 3:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I used to do things that drove my betas crazy like saying 'he dropped his eyes to look at her' to which I would get the beta comment - 'He dropped his eyes?? Really?? That must have hurt!' lol And Viv is always fussing at me about toward and towards. I still can't remember which one I'm supposed to use for Americanized English. Shocked

My big crime now is POV changes alot. Or head hopping as Gwynnyd says.

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NancyBrooke
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 3:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good grammar is kind of like good manners in that it should make the reader more comfortable, and avoid misunderstandings.

Removing punctuation sometimes makes a piece more readable without sacrificing meaning. Sometimes, all those commas are just in the way.

eiranae wrote:
I really appreciate this thread, btw, Nancy. I do need to improve my grammar with regards to punctuation especially.

I'm glad. It is always my intention to help, not carp, although I do kind of like the carping, I must say. Wink

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Nazgul #3 in charge of ducking & sniggering

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NeumeIndil



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PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 6:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Would it be out of line to post particular sentences where the punctuation or grammar is needling someone? I don't mean, "I read this line in a story and it really bugged me," but rather, "I'm not sure whether to use a comma or a semicolon in this sentence. What do you suggest?"
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Viv
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 8:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

NeumeIndil wrote:
Would it be out of line to post particular sentences where the punctuation or grammar is needling someone? I don't mean, "I read this line in a story and it really bugged me," but rather, "I'm not sure whether to use a comma or a semicolon in this sentence. What do you suggest?"


If it's from somebody else's story, could you change the particulars (character names, maybe a noun or two)? I think that a slight change and quoting it without context should salve the author's ego.

Unless it's mine. Then you can post it in its entirety. Sometimes it delights folks to roast their betas, nd I'm all for a good roast (must the the dwarf in me). Wink
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