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 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)”
Some of you already know what I’m about to say, just from reading that phrase. And you might be surprised to see what I’m about to say on the subject, because it’s not a terribly popular opinion. Still, it’s mine, and I’m airing it. Because I can. Continue reading “Toast and orange juice”
Earlier this morning I had reason to look for this post from December, 2016, in which I talked about dialogue and reactions. In it, I said I’d be writing another one “soon(ish)” about when dialogue needs to start on a new line.
It’s soon(ish) now. (Hey, it hasn’t been a year yet. That has to count for something, right?)
I’m still seeing the thing that caused me to say this post was needed. No surprise there; the way teachers address dialogue in standard English classes (from, let’s say, middle school on through college) is sorely lacking in nuance and clarity, from my experience. They drill this information into students’ heads: “Always begin dialogue on a new line.” The missing part is “from a new speaker.” The way dialogue appears on the page is a cue to the readers about who’s talking. Every new line indicates a change of speaker.
At least that’s how it’s supposed to work. Continue reading “Formatting dialogue: when do you need a new line?”
Let’s talk about question marks for a little bit. (Okay, more accurately I’ll write and you can read.)
I’ll bet you learned in school that you put a question mark at the end of an interrogative sentence. Take a look at the title of this post. Is that really a question? Is it asking a question? Continue reading “He wondered if he was right?”
“He began to walk across the room.”
“She started to answer.”
Why do I need to know this? Why can’t it just say “He walked” and “She answered”?
This is one of the most common issues I see in my fiction editing work. Characters are forever starting and beginning things they could, quite honestly, just do. So, when does beginning matter? Continue reading “When beginning matters”
(This is far from a complete set. I’m sure you, being the astute and creative readers you are, can come up with many more.)
Let’s take the “U mad bro” concept. We say that (or type it) when it’s clear someone’s taken offense because they’ve been called out on something. Continue reading “Register: Five examples”