Monday, May 31, 2010
Monday Mulligan Stew
HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY-
My insight on writing today...
These are the top five grammar problems I found over at the Grammar Divas site. It is a great place to go when you're looking for grammar help.
Top Five Grammar Problems…
5. Subject-Verb Agreement
Make sure subjects and verbs “agree” in number--singular subject/singular verb; plural subject/plural verb. Sounds easy enough, but there are a few situations that complicate S-V agreement.
The pile of books are on the table. Try again.
The pile of books is on the table. Yes. The subject is pile, not books.
Neither Rafe nor his friends has made the final round in bull riding. Try again.
Neither Rafe nor his friends have made the final round in bull riding. Yes. The verb must agree with the nearer subject, friends.
Everybody in the prosecutor's office are working on the case. Try again.
Everybody in the prosecutor's office is working on the case. Yes. The indefinite pronoun “everybody” is singular. It means “every single person.”
Make sure the pronoun referring back to a noun or pronoun in a sentence agrees in number and person.
If an actor goes to the awards dinner without an invitation, they won't be seated. Try again.
If an actor goes to the awards dinner without an invitation, he won't be seated. Yes. Actor is a singular noun so the pronoun referring to it must be singular.
When a person is on a jury, you should be careful not to talk about the deliberations. Try Again.
When a person is on a jury, he should be careful not to talk about the deliberations. Yes. Whatever “person” (first, second, or third) you start writing in, you must stay in. You cannot switch persons just because you do it casually in conversation.
3. Faulty Parallelism
Make sure you use grammatically equal sentence elements (words, phrases, or clauses) to express two or more matching ideas or ideas in a series.
The PI went to San Francisco, Warsaw, and to Morocco. Try again.
The PI went to San Francisco, Warsaw and Morocco. Yes. The ideas are now parallel. Two noun phrases and a single noun have been rewritten as one noun phrase.
The doctor told Tanya she could reduce her cold symptoms by drinking orange juice and if she got plenty of rest. Try again.
The doctor told Tanya she could reduce her cold symptoms if she drank orange juice and got plenty of rest. Yes. The ideas are now parallel. One clause and one phrase have been rewritten as one clause with two verb phrases.
The CSI team took DNA samples to the lab for testing, and a knife looked suspicious, too. Try again.
The CSI team took DNA samples and a knife with a sticky residue to the lab for testing. Yes. The ideas are now parallel. A noun phrase and an independent clause have been rewritten as two noun phrases.
2. Apostrophe Usage
Make sure you use apostrophes only to indicate possession and contractions. Occasionally, apostrophes indicate the plurals of numbers, letters and signs.
boss' office Try again. The latest style manual rules have changed.
boss's office Yes. Even if it ends in -s, add 's to the singular form of the word.
mother's-in-law coking Try again.
mother-in-law's cooking Yes. Place the apostrophe after the last word in a compound noun.
the Jones's cars Try again.
the Joneses' cars Yes. The noun is plural. Add only an apostrophe to a plural noun.
children' songs Try again.
children's songs Yes. If a noun does not end in -s, add apostrophe -s.
We're go'in. Half correct. We're is the contraction for “we are.”
We're goin'. Yes. Goin' is the correct contraction for “going.”
Its raining. Try again. Its is possessive. It cannot own raining.
It's raining. Yes. The contraction means “it is.”
Plurals of Numbers, letters and signs:
I got two as' in biology. Try again.
I got two a's in biology. Yes. Now we are not confused as to what you got in biology!
I love '70's music for wedding receptions. Try again.
I love '70s music for wedding receptions. Yes. Apostrophe + s after the number is no longer preferred by the latest style manuals.
And now, the number one Grammar Problem is…
1. Passive Voice
Make sure you use action verbs rather than “passive” verbs, in which action is not emphasized. Readers usually prefer to see characters actively involved in making stuff happen.
How to catch yourself writing passive? The sentence will always have:
1. to be + past participle verb form (was + thrown)
2. subject of the sentence receives action rather than doing the action
3. doer of action (if stated) is in a prepositional phrase starting with by (or to)
Samuel was bitten by a spider under his swimsuit. Try again--Passive
The spider bit Samuel under his swimsuit. Yes--Active
When the tornado hit, every building was destroyed. Try again--Passive
When the tornado hit, it destroyed every building. Yes--Active
Murky rule alert: Sometimes the doer of action is not known or is unimportant. You'll have to judge whether to write the idea in passive voice or rewrite the idea in active voice.
The flag should be flown at half-mast tomorrow. Passive, emphasis on the flag receiving action of being flown. The doer of action is not important here.
Somebody should fly the flag at half-mast tomorrow. Active, but the doer is an indefinite pronoun. “Somebody” states the obvious, giving no new or significant information.
The murder apparently was committed around midnight. Passive, emphasis on the act of murder. The doer of that action is not known.
Someone committed the murder around midnight. Active, but, the doer is an indefinite pronoun. “Someone” states the obvious, giving no new or significant information.
Using obvious, substitute words when the doer of action is not known or not important will not guarantee a strong active sentence.
To find more witty grammar help go to: www.grammardivas.com