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”
First, know that it caused me psychological pain to type that title. It’s a run-on sentence, you see. There are two complete thoughts (“Let’s talk about run-on sentences” and “how do you know one when you see one?”), but they run together without any visual cue, without proper mechanics. The grammar is just fine. It’s the mechanics that are missing–except for that question mark at the end, and the apostrophe for the contraction of “let us.” (You knew that’s what “let’s” means, right? Good.)
Second, here’s why I want to talk about them: people don’t understand what they are. Oh, when they’re short, like the one in this title, they get it right. But when a sentence goes on for what the average reader considers “paragraph length,” that reader assumes it HAS to be a run-on. And many times, that reader is wrong. Continue reading “Let’s talk about run-on sentences how do you know one when you see one?”
I’ll bet I scared someone already with the last word in that title.
Let’s start at the beginning. This post came about because of a conversation on Twitter, begun by this tweet from Andy Bechtel (@andybechtel):
I’m not agreeing with that decision, either. Nor are many folks. But there are a few who don’t understand why it’s wrong. This post is for them. (Maybe it’s for you. I don’t know.) Continue reading “Back to basics: commas and appositives”
This post has been banging around in my head for a few days. I’m going to try again to get it out of my gray matter and into pixel form so I can stop thinking about it.
Perhaps I’m a bad editor, but I refuse to read the local papers’ columns by “grammar experts.” (When I say “local,” I mean local to anywhere; the tiny burg I live in has little more than a broadsheet filled with want ads, for-sale/giveaway ads, and minutes of the local school board and PTO meetings. However, the power of the internet lets me access papers from all around the country. But I digress.) Why don’t I read them? Continue reading “On peeververein and the burnishing of credentials”
I bumped into an errant indefinite article a short while ago, and decided I’d tweet a link to the blog post I’d certainly written about such things.
Except there was no blog post. There was only a G+ post from 2015.
Now it’s a blog post.
ETA: Except it’s not, because G+ went poof.
I’ll have to rewrite it for real, soon.
EATA (Edited Again To Add): I did it.
I wrote about the concept of notional concord here. Refresh your memory if you like before reading farther. I’ll wait.
All right. I just encountered the following.
“Each of these disparate images have their own story […]”
The problem is that phrase “of these disparate images.” Without that, we know that “each” implies a singular thing, one item, and therefore takes a singular verb. However, as soon as we put a phrase after it that contains a plural noun, things get complicated. The MWDEU invokes Copperud and says that “notional agreement appears to be gaining ground over grammatical agreement.” Continue reading “Notional concord redux”