16 January 2009

Grammar Tidbits *Update

This comic is from Debbie Ridpath Ohi at Inkygirl: Daily Diversions for Writers (very funny stuff.)

As newly assigned copy editor, here are a couple of grammar items I would like to see used with more punctiliousness.

When quoting someone, the punctuation afterward goes inside of the quotation marks.

"He is like, so hot," she sighed. (If that comma were an exclamation point, which should be used with extreme caution, the exclamation point would be in the same position.)

It's means it is and nothing else. When using its as a possessive, there is no apostrophe. You can test by re-reading the sentence and replacing it's with it is. If the sentence makes sense, leave the apostrophe. If the sentence loses its sensibility, lose the apostrophe.

It's an angry badger that will shake its fist at you.

Your, You're. The secret here is to read that apostrophe as an "a." If you read sentence and cannot replace you're with you are, then use the your.

You're going to regret not eating your vegetables.

Lose: To not have something anymore because it is lost.
I need to lose some weight. If I lose my black stretchy pants, I'll be in trouble.

Loose: To be less tight.
I gained so much weight that my black stretchy pants weren't even loose any more.

They're: They are.
Their: It belongs to them.
There: A place.

If the witch and her monkeys don't get their umbrellas, they're never going to get there without melting.

If you have helpful grammar tidbits, pet peeves, fetishes, or anxieties, please share.

*In response to shared anxieties, and to gratify my evil smug side, I give two more tidbits:

Capitol: Where Obama will be inaugurated.
Capital: A letter that could beat up the other version of itself. Also can be used with the killing kind of punishment for crime.

Fewer or Less?

Fewer: When a quantity can be assigned a number.

She has fewer pairs of shoes than her mother. (36 fewer pairs, to be precise.)

Less: When a quantity can not be assigned a number.

She has less sartorial junk than her mother.


The Yoder's Three said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Yoder's Three said...

Ah, grammar. I am a proofreading junkie myself, although in my informal writing I admit to using WAY too many exclamation points and parentheses(and caps--see I'm doing it again!)You need to publish this post in The Hurricane Times.

The Rookie said...

We don't have all day, so I'll second you on every point you make. But I must add a few pet peeves here because I'm snobby like that (and see these mistakes far too frequently).

Definitely (an adverb meaning in a definite or absolute manner--"We are definitely talking about grammar today.") is not spelled defiantly (this would mean in a rebellious or defiant manner--"The toddler defiantly threw a temper tantrum.")/deffinately (this is not a word)/definately (ditto) and so forth. I didn't realize that turning definite into an adverb was THAT difficult until blogging. And teaching.

Also, if something is plural such as type-os (plural of type-o; many type-o) or Garcias (plural of Garcia, multiple members of the Garcia family), then it does not require an apostrophe. If it is something belonging to the type-o (the type-o's fatal error) or the Smiths (the Smith's sweet new ride), then it is allowed an apostrophe.

And I just learned that the sentence finishing punctuation mark, when the parenthetical statement is its own stand alone sentence, goes inside the parentheses.

I'll try to avoid feeling too self-conscious about the many type-os and errors I know I have made in the past whilst blogging (that I know you've read). (And probably cringed over).

The Rookie said...

I can't stop myself (methinks it is a sickness or at the very least severe nerd-ity). Cover the fewer/less usage rules. I'm growing insane because "less" in place of "fewer" is becoming more and more acceptable and common and it grates on me as little else does.

(Good heavens! I've become the grammar police. It has finally happened. I keep thinking of more and more and more pet peeves. Oh, when did I become this person?!)

Melissa said...

Oh, I just found this blog and I think I'm in love with you! What about when the quotation marks are only around one word, which happens to be the last word of the sentence. Where does the punctuation mark go--inside or outside?

And, for example, "I take issue with you allowing...." Should it be you or your allowing?

See, i love you!

Anonymous said...

Goodness! So maybe Auntie's writing crackdowns aren't so rude afterall? Hahaha!

Jen said...

Melissa, I need to look up the punctuation item, as it feels like it certainly should go outside, but if the rule is consistent, it should go inside. I would suspect it goes inside unless it needs to go outside for the meaning of the sentence to be clearer, though I can't think of an example at present.

And it is youR allowing! allowing is a gerund, which is a verb in noun form. You wouldn't say, "I take issue with you dreadful haircut." Dreadful haircut is a noun, so is allowing in that instance.

Thank you for bringing up these important issues!

Saddie and Levi said...

Amen to the less/fewer annoyance. It's so often misused - especially in math where "less" really means fewer. Argh!

The grammar rule I struggle with is further and farther and my husband and I just recently debated the lay/lie issue. Yeah, I'm a grammar freak, but I think it's pretty fun!

Melissa said...

Thank you, and...will you marry me?
I love grammar, punctuation,etc. and I find it so interesting. I'll be here all the time!

Amy said...

I may have to steal your post for some of my students who still do not get it!

Melissa said...

Are you gonna post more grammar updates or not?? That stuff really gets my blood pumping!

Now I'm off to my counselor.

Dansie Family said...

i just hope i didn't make too many of those mistakes in my article.

mommy princess said...

I'm really glad you posted this. Not only is my grammar atrocious I'm a terrible speller. In fact when I first started my blog I was really worried about it. But I finally just said, "it is what it is." In a way it's been good practice for me. Sometimes I do wish I had an editor to go over everything before I embarrass myself with a post riddled with mistakes. If you ever have more tips please send them my way. BTW I really enjoyed your article in the New Hurricane News paper. I now have something to look forward to when it comes.

Becky said...

Actually if it's the Smiths' cat, it is a plural possessive and the apostrophe goes after the "s."