I love grammar.
More precisely, I love grammar, usage, syntax, semantics, and mechanics.
I’m one of those bitchy editors who will point out that “grammar” as used by Average Robin encompasses all of those things, which is why “grammar quizzes” are usually bullshit. Most of what’s in them isn’t grammar. It’s mechanics or spelling or usage or style. And that last one has a lot of gray areas, so making a generalized quiz about it is fucking cruel. No, it’s NOT wrong if you don’t use a serial comma. Not as clear as it could be, perhaps, but it’s not wrong. Continue reading “Grammar Day 2018”
I’ve blogged before about when to use “a” and “an” with initialisms. Here’s a real-world example, taken from Huddleston and Pullum’s A Student’s Introduction to English Grammar:
It is typical for the subject of a clause to be an NP.
“But Karen, ‘n’ would take ‘a’ because it’s a consonant!”
Nope. “N” takes “an” when it’s pronounced as itself, the letter “en.” It begins with a vowel sound, which takes “an.”
Clearly, the authors intend for us to say “en pee” rather than “noun phrase.” The indefinite article “an” is the cue.
Lots of folks seem to have gotten the idea that “there are no rules” about English anymore. I have to guess that they’ve seen and heard the articles and discussions about prescriptivism versus descriptivism, and their takeaway has been “Well, so rules can be broken.” That becomes “rules don’t matter,” and from there it’s a short hop to “there are no rules.”
Yes. There are rules. Continue reading “Yes, there are rules.”
Assuming that Burbank, CA counts as “wild.”
Many thanks to June Casagrande for writing about my hashtag #SpellcheckCannotSaveYou in this installment of “A Word, Please,” her regular column for the LA Times.
I’ve been seeing comma issues lately and I need to write about them.
Up there in the title, “long” and “cold” are what’s called “coordinate adjectives.” They modify the same noun (“winter,” in this case), so they’re coordinating their work. (Make sense? Good. Onward.) Continue reading “the long, cold winter (see? only one comma)”
I’ve written before about how I am no longer a teacher. How editors aren’t teachers. Perhaps I was hasty in making that statement (over the years–hasty like a tortoise). Continue reading “The editor as teacher”
Remember in elementary school, maybe even high school, when your teacher gave the “don’t switch tenses” talk about writing?
Have you thought, in the years since then, how utterly ridiculous that statement is? Continue reading “A tense situation”