Grammar Gripes

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  1. #1
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    Default Grammar Gripes

    I figured we could start a thread about common grammatical errors that pop up all the time and annoy the graders. I'll start us off with two classics.

    The Comma Splice

    You are not allowed to join two independent clauses (sentences) with a comma. Use a semicolon or period instead.

    WRONG: Bob was hungry, he hadn't had anything since breakfast.
    RIGHT: Bob was hungry; he hadn't had anything since breakfast.
    RIGHTER: Bob was hungry since he hadn't had anything since breakfast.

    Names and Commas

    When a character is talking and he or she mentions someone's name, that name must be set off with commas. Must. Both sides.

    WRONG: "Hey Bob how are you?"
    STILL WRONG: "Hey Bob, how are you?"
    RIGHT: "Hey, Bob, how are you?"

    If the name occurs at an end of the sentence, you only need one comma:

    LEFT: "How are you, Bob?"
    RIGHT: "Bob, how are you?"

    Come on in and let's have ourselves a nice kvetch.
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  2. #2
    bad wolf Scourge of Nemo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Grammar Gripes

    I enjoy the awkward silence with which this topic has been met.

    I'll stick mine in, then.

    ALWAYS ALWAYS remember to do some basic checks for the simple mistakes. Comma splices and sentence structure errors can be tough to spot, so those are forgivable... but when you regularly miss the "main" points of basic grammar, it gets grating--troubeshooting info on them is everywhere. Even if you make these errors regularly, if you're in URPG story section for any period of time, someone will have corrected you. YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE. MWAHAHA.


    The They

    There indicates placement.

    INCORRECT: Their/they're you are!
    CORRECT: There you are!

    Their indicates ownership.

    INCORRECT: That's there/they're banana.
    CORRECT: That's their banana.

    They're indicates plurality and being. Alias: "they are." Don't tell anyone. It's undercover.

    INCORRECT: Their/there rather lactose intolerant.
    CORRECT: They're rather lactose intolerant.

    The Its

    Its indicates possession.

    INCORRECT: It's foot has an extra toe or two.
    CORRECT: Its foot has an extra toe or two.

    It's indicates singularity and being. AKA "it is," operating in deep cover with they're. TELL NO ONE, I REPEAT, TELL NO ONE.

    INCORRECT: Its a banana.
    CORRECT: It's a banana.

    Simple? Straightforward? Heard it before? Insulted by the fact that I'm even telling you this? GOOD. STOP DOING IT WRONG.

    I'll be back with a dialogue tag guide. :<
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  3. #3
    Gabite Evolved! Krookodile's Avatar
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    Default Re: Grammar Gripes

    The ."
    I know I'm not a grader but come on!

    INCORRECT: "This is weird." Bob said.
    CORRECT: "This is weird," Bob said.

  4. #4
    Stumped Turtwig A's Avatar Bulbapedia Junior Administrator
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    Default Re: Grammar Gripes

    I want to gripe!

    Subjective/Objective words

    While this isn't usually a problem in most cases, many people tend to 'correct' "Me and..." to "... and I". While in many situations it's right, in others it isn't. Don't like bringing these up, but I is to be used when it's a subject or predicate nominative, and me when it's a Direct/Indirect Object or an Object of a Preposition. Many of these 'corrections' change what would be a grammatically correct statement to an incorrect statement (in terms of grammar).

    INCORRECT: Me and NAME worked on our homework/It's easy for NAME and I
    CORRECT: NAME and I worked on our homework/It's easy for me and NAME

    Another way to decide if it should be me or I is to drop the and off and change the words like our to my or something along those lines. If it makes sense, then the usage is correct. Also note that it doesn't have to be a name, but can also be words like them, him, her, they, etc.

    There are some other stuff with this, but I felt this one was more major.

    (20:56:57) Luxis: All y'all are a bunch of Silly heads.
    RIP Giruja. Why must you have been fake?

    (17:58:01) daytwon: why am i watchin ot turtwig
    (17:58:03) ±Dratini: daytwon was muted by Heather Star for 30 minutes! [Reason: inappropriate] [Channel: Trivia]

    [15:26] Synthesis: he ain't godkilled
    [15:27] Ebail: Zam was Syn
    [15:27] Synthesis: it was an agreed sacrifice to the gods

  5. #5
    bad wolf Scourge of Nemo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Grammar Gripes

    Oooh, you brought up subject-object conflict. Am I going to have to explain grammatical concepts that most people don't think actually exist in English, now? DARN YOU. Maybe I'll start explaining obscure things next, just for fun. And to hurt people's brains. OOH. OOH. SHOULD I DO WHO WHOM? EVERYONE WILL HATE ME FOREVER AND EVER. Also, someone should find a comprehensive effects/affects guide that makes sense. (HAH, RIGHT. [/grammatical grudge])

    Dialogue Tags

    Gonna detail 'em a bit more. Rule One: NEVER USE A PERIOD IF YOU HAVE A TAG.

    ALWAYS INCORRECT: "This is weird." Bob said.
    GOOD FOR YOU: "This is weird," Bob said.

    However, also correct is...

    CORRECT: "This is weird!" Bob said.
    CORRECT: "Is this weird?" Bob asked, definitely not about anything forum inappropriate.

    Now, another little hitch here... You never ever capitalize a naturally uncapitalized word in a dialogue tag. Proper nouns like Bob stay capitalized, but if you're beginning with anything else... nope.

    INCORRECT: "This is weird," Said Bob.
    CORRECT: "This is weird," said Bob.
    NO: "This is weird!" Said Bob.
    CORRECT: "This is weird!" said Bob.
    ALSO INCORRECT: "Is this weird?" Asked Bob, gesturing to the banana.
    YUP: "Is this weird?" asked Bob, gesturing to the banana.


    ONE MORE THING. You don't dialogue-tag things unless they're speaking verbs. This means that, in some instances, you end up with something that looks like a period-ed dialogue tag. BUT IT ISN'T. Because the verb can't modify the way they're speaking. It's a stand-alone

    CORRECT: "You buttmonkey," said Bob.
    ALSO CORRECT: "You buttmonkey," exclaimed Bob in a monotone.
    BUT NOT CORRECT: "You buttmonkey," smirked Bob.
    AND, NO: "You buttmonkey," Bob smirked.
    CORRECT: "You buttmonkey." Bob smirked.

    Especially don't do this with "smirked." You have no idea what the inside of my head does when I see "smirk" used as a dialogue tag. I WILL BEAT YOU.

    Also, some grammatical errors occur because of this--you end up getting these weird fragmenty sentences that only work as dialogue tags, but can't be dialogue tags because they don't have speaking verbs. I would show you them, but they're so gross that my fingers would melt, just typing them. [/can't figure out how to actually do one from scratch] Anyway, watch out for that.
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Grammar Gripes

    A note on "smirk" :

    "Smirk" has a negative connotation. In other words, smirking is for jerks. (waits for audience to groan)

    Use "smirk" only in these kinds of situations:
    -The smirker is being smug.
    -The smirker is naturally cocky.
    -The smirker is insulting someone.
    -The smirker is getting revenge.
    -The smirker is just a bad person.
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    New experimental grading system. Request a tier after I claim your story:
    Tier I / Basic: A quick verdict and some useful advice without much fuss.
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  7. #7
    bad wolf Scourge of Nemo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Grammar Gripes

    Please note that if you have to use the verb "smirked" every few sentences to demonstrate what an awful person your character is, your dialogue probably isn't mean enough.
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  8. #8
    Kyu in a Fedora Agent K's Avatar
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    Default Re: Grammar Gripes

    I'm not a grader, but there's something that I think annoys garders. The use fo 'generic words'. For example, 'bad', 'good', 'pretty' and 'ugly'. I think these can pass in stroies for Easiest/Simple 'mons. I think graders comment on these words with comments like:
    Quote Originally Posted by Imaginary Grader
    Ugly? How? Describing is good, it gives you more characters, which is good. So next time, please try to describe how your character is ugly, instead of just telling the reader that he/she is ugly. For example, decribe them with warts or wrinkles if you want them to appear ugly to the reader.
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  9. #9
    no Tyranitex's Avatar
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    Default Re: Grammar Gripes

    Scourge has already beautifully pointed out the intricacies of possessive pronouns. Hopefully, you all are aware of the words 'his' and 'hers'. These are the possessive pronouns for male and female, respectively. However, we now move on to what I taught to my adorable, southern belle secretary last week: possessive and plural possessive apostrophe manipulation.

    NOW! For names (and other proper nouns for that matter) , as I believe Scourge did not address, you're going to use an apostrophe somewhere, and somehow. If the name does not end in an 's', then you dictate possesive with an 'apostrophe s'.

    INCORRECT: Buffys slayer moves were agile.
    CORRECT: Buffy's slayer moves were agile.
    INCORRECT: Sunnydales hottest club is the Bronze.
    CORRECT:Sunnydale's hottest club is the Bronze.

    NOTE: This still applies for names that end in 's'. Just add an 'apostrophe s'. (Here the characters name is Giles)

    LEFT: Gile's knowledge of demons is vast.
    RIGHT: Giles's knowledge of demons is vast.

    You may then ask, "But Tyranitex! Buffy dies and is revived twice! There are multiple slayers in that series! And all of thier moves are agile!" Not to fret, friendly reader. Although your protest brings up the never-ending debate of when one has enough poetic license able to use 'and' to begin a sentence, I shall ignore it and explain compound possessive.

    This occurs when multiple people have either the same thing, or things under the same name. You put a possessive indication after the last of the names when they all equally own the same thing. You put a possessive indication after each name when they all own the same general thing, but different specific things under that general name.

    TRUE: Buffy and Faith's problem was the demon.
    ALSO TRUE, BUT DIFFERENT: Buffy's and Faith's experience with demons allowed them to outsmart and kill this one.

    When we get in to plural possessive this is what happens. This is easy; you only must switch the 's' and the apostrophe. This only occurs when there are multiple people (or places) that have the same name and they both own something, the same thing. NOTE: The possessive subject will always be followed by the subject that they own in pluralized form. Here it is demonstrated by the words 'quips' and 'locations'

    NO: The Xanders's quips were becoming confusing.
    NO: The Xander's's quips were becoming confusing.
    YES: The Xanders' quips were becoming confusing.
    NO: The Jamestowns's locations in America are quite different.
    NO: The Jamestowns's's locations across America are quite different.
    YES: The Jamestowns' locations across America are quite different.

    Now for the hard one. This combines them all. This rule is for names that: end in 's', are pluralized, and all own something. This is the one that, in 7th grade, I learned was the one that stumped most english teachers and people in general for that matter. After asking most people at my school, it was the outgoing and brilliant history teacher, Mrs. Hansen, that revealed this grammatical secret to me. It acts exactly as regular plural possesive does. Yes, I was a bit disappointed too, but thats how it works.

    The last thing is the exception to the rule. Tricky Americans and their lack of common logic... Things that end in an 's' SOUND and own something. This applies only to non-proper nouns. In this case, you merely add an apostrophe and nothing else. Oh, and it's pronounced the same as if it were not possessive.

    NOPE: For her conscience's sake, Faith decided to turn herself in.
    YEP: For her conscience' sake, Faith decided to turn herself in.

    P.S. Scourge, you should do whom. I want to see everyone groan and yell, but I don't want them to do it at me. :D

  10. #10
    CAPS KidBeano's Avatar
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    Default Re: Grammar Gripes

    Adding onto Scourge's things about there/their/they're, it's time to introduce you to...

    The You

    Your indicates that something belongs to 'you', whoever that may be.

    WRONG: I think this is you're pen.
    RIGHT: I think this is your pen.

    You're indicates being. (A fancy way of writing 'you are'). It's and They're failed on their undercover mission, so You're has been sent to put things right. Telling others could bring great danger to the safety of You're.

    WRONG: Your looking a bit pale.
    RIGHT: You're looking a bit pale.

    EDIT: Oh, and a pet peeve of mine.

    Affect = verb (to affect something)
    Effect = noun (the effect of something)

    WRONG: It really effected him.
    RIGHT: It really affected him.
    WRONG: It didn't have much of an affect.
    RIGHT: It didn't have much of an effect.
    Last edited by KidBeano; 9th April 2011 at 09:08 AM.

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  11. #11
    Chocolate Bear Galleon's Avatar
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    Who vs Whom
    A lot of people have problems with this, apparently. Which is silly, 'cuz it's really very easy. 'course, it's also pretty easy to mix the two up, even when you know the differences, so. LOOK FORWARD TO THE GOOD TIMES AHEAD.

    All you need to know is this: use "who" when the person being referred to is doing something, or in grammatic terms, is a subject. Use "whom" when the person being referred to is being done something to, or in grammatic terms, is an object.

    If you want a very concise way of remembering it, use this: "WHO DOES SOMETHING TO WHOM." That's it. That's all you gotta remember. "WHO DOES SOMETHING TO WHOM."

    Now, just watch. A couple examples will make this plain as day:

    CORRECT: "He was the one who bought her that gift."
    INCORRECT: "He was the one whom bought her that gift."
    CORRECT: "She was the one whom he bought that gift for."
    LESS CORRECT: "She was the one who he bought that gift for."

    Also, in the interest of inciting a fangirl squeak from a certain person, I will include this (less helpful, perhaps) example:

    CORRECT: "The doctor who saved you was incredibly skilled."
    NOT SO MUCH: "The doctor whom saved you was incredibly skilled."
    CORRECT: "The doctor whom everyone adores was the person who saved you."
    BLARGH: "The doctor who everyone adores was the person who saved you."

    And that's it. That's the rule. That's what all the fuss is about. In a perfect world, I could stop talking here... AND IT IS A PERFECT WORLD. SO BYE.

    Okay, fine, I'll stay a bit longer. The thing that mucks everyone up is that "who" has a tendency to "sound" correct, even when it isn't. For instance, take that very last example. Informally, it would be perfectly fine to say that. "The doctor who everyone adores... blah blah." Yes. It sounds fine, and you can get away with it no problem, but it IS technically wrong. In a formal environment, among those surly folks who are sticklers for rules 'n such, you should try to be at your most grammatical. So yes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scourge of Nemo View Post
    Maybe I'll start explaining obscure things next, just for fun. And to hurt people's brains. OOH. OOH. SHOULD I DO WHO WHOM? EVERYONE WILL HATE ME FOREVER AND EVER.
    Quote Originally Posted by Tyranitex View Post
    P.S. Scourge, you should do whom. I want to see everyone groan and yell, but I don't want them to do it at me. :D


    *was never here*
    Last edited by Galleon; 22nd April 2011 at 05:06 AM. Reason: IT WASN'T A MISTAKE, AND IT WAS IN NO WAY IRONIC.

    If you like people who yell a lot, then you're going to love me. OR MAYBE NOT. I DUNNO.

  12. #12
    bad wolf Scourge of Nemo's Avatar
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    Also. I'm here to talk about something that isn't really a "grammatical error" frequently made so much as "something that people just plain don't know about." Basic grammatical terminology. 'shard to grade when you know that 60% of the writers you're talking to won't actually know your jargon. SO HERE BE JARGON.


    INDEPENDENT: A clause composed of a subject, object, and a verb (otherwise known as a noun, a different noun, and… a verb). In its simplest form…

    The dog ate the banana.

    This clause is able to stand on its own as a full sentence. If you want to stick two independent clauses together without a conjunction, you can’t use a comma to do it—you gotta use a dash or a semi-colon.

    DEPENDENT: Also has a subject and a verb, but is unable to act as a complete sentence. This is because it has a subordinating grammatical feature of some sort (ie, a subordinating conjunction).

    …after the dog ate the banana.

    If you put this sentence on its own, you have this dangling “after” that insinuates the need for an independent clause. You can usually turn dependent clauses into independent clauses with careful rearrangements of commas/words (ie, After, the dog ate the banana).

    After the dog ate the banana, the cat ate the cow.
    The cat ate the cow after the dog ate the banana.

    Subtypes include adverb, adjective, and noun clauses. YOU CAN LOOK THOSE UP YOURSELF.

    Basic Sentence Structures

    SIMPLE: One independent clause.

    The dog ate an elephant.

    COMPOUND: At least two independent clauses.

    The dog ate an elephant, and the egg hatched.
    The dog ate an elephant; the egg hatched.
    The dog ate an elephant—the egg hatched.

    COMPLEX: Contains one independent clause and at least one dependent clause.

    After the dog ate the banana, the cat ate the cow.
    After the dog ate the banana and while the cat ate the cow, the children wept. (← Icky but correct. DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME, KIDS.)

    COMPOUND-COMPLEX: At least two independent clauses and at least one dependent clause.

    The dog ate the banana, and the cat ate the cow, causing consternation and disgust in the child.


    COORDINATING: And, or, for, nor, yet, but, so. There are assorted others. These serve to connect clauses of equal syntactical relevance—ie, two independent clauses.

    CORRECT: The dog had a cow and the cat shot the moon.
    ARGUABLY INCORRECT: The dog had a cow, and the cat shot the moon.

    Now, the second one probably looks right to a lot of you. BUT IT’S NOT NECESSARILY. Because this is a coordinating conjunction in a balanced sentence. No need for a comma ‘cause they’re parallel. You can still put it there if you want; grammar is funny that way. (IF THAT MAKES ANY SENSE. WHICH I DON’T THINK IT DOES.) However, in longer sentences, similar constructions (with additional clauses) often need the comma. But this is just the two clauses, so... 'n yeah.

    SUBORDINATING: After, while, since, than, that, though, until, when, where, whether… The list goes on. These indicate that one clause is subordinate to another (ie, they connect an independent clause to a dependent clause).

    There’s not much correct/incorrectitude to talk about here.
    Last edited by Scourge of Nemo; 25th August 2011 at 11:19 AM. Reason: CLARIFYING STUFF
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  13. #13
    no Tyranitex's Avatar
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    Default Re: Grammar Gripes

    Buffy is WIN.
    But this time it’s Harry Potter.

    I would like to introduce to the URPG writers a word of dramatically fantastic amazingness. A word the likes of which have not been seen since Shakespeare. I here by announce the unveiling of the ulltimate contraction...


    To Alaska and anyone else who has had the delightful pleasure of hastily consuming a book by author John Green and co-founder of Nerfighteria will know, this word exists in a published work in normal contexts. The usage is a basic conglomerate of all three words of which this god among words is composed. It indicates the arrival of an addition, a contradiction, and a clarification all in one megaclaus.

    Andbutso I will be doing something actually useful in this post, though the usefulness of this contraction is debatably paramount to EVERYTHING THAT EVER EXISTS. I shall explain how to sound automatically professional, classy, and in my opinion really sexy. No, I am sadly not going to teach you all about how to impersonate Frank Sinatra. I will, however, explain how to not end a sentence in a preposition (and thereby not fail at life).


    I’m going to go ahead and begin this by eplaining what prepositions are as well as giving you a list of them. They are superheroes among words and some of the few words that allow us to understand each other. Yes yes, nouns and verbs are all very well, but they would be nothing (or very little) without prepositions. A preposition shows the relationship between words in sentences. There are many usages of these relationships, but they mostly show relations in time, space, and organization. Now I will try my best to find a list of all of them EVER on the interwebs. Grammar Nazis that are also mods are more than welcome to add on if they find ones missing. (I am vetoing all of the phrasal ones (across from, out onto, about to, etc.) for clarity)


    These next ones are fancy and old. Some of them are borrowed from other languages because english is stupid and confusing. Feel free to use them, just as long as you use them correctly.

    vis-a-vis (Pronounced veezavee)
    cum (teehee! Pronounced kyoom)
    ere (Proundounced like air)

    If you have never heard of the word ‘preposition’ then this is very confusing for you. So I have some examples and juicy advices for you.

    The wand was in his hand.

    One funny distinction between romantic and germanic languages is that germanic languages have two words for ‘in’ and ‘on’, whereas romantic languages have a dual purpose preposition. ‘En la mesa’ means ‘on the table in spanish, but it could also mean ‘in the table’. Funny right? Hahahahahahaha.

    She got to the Snitch before Harry could blink.
    It was unimaginable how Hogwarts could even exist without Dumbledore.

    There: examples for the temporal, spatial, and logical usages of prepositions. Now we move on to how to use them. Muahaha.

    Preposition Sexiness

    We revisit Galleon’s whom, first. Let me give you an example first this time.

    So, Pansy, who are you going to the Yule Ball with?

    An easy way to see that this sentence is bad is looking at the last word in it. With, as you all know now, is a preposition. If you say this sentence out loud, it may not seem very incorrect. Sadly, it is quite the vernacular these days. It is becoming uppercrusty and froufy to use this sentence in its correct form. Now for the correct form.

    So, Pansy, with whom are you going to the Yule Ball?

    Let me explain why this is incorrect. -points a giant finger at Galleon’s explanation of the difference between subject and object- Thankfully, english makes sure that word choice does not affect sentence structure (sometimes -_-) which means we don’t have to understand the difference between la and le or der and den and when to use them. However, we still have object and subject in this here language. We just like you wouldn’t use ‘he’ in the place of ‘him’, you shouldn’t use ‘who’ in a place where ‘whom’ should be. An easy fix to knowing when to and not to use who or whom is to remember that every ‘w’ word (as well as ‘this’ and ‘that’) in english refers to an actual thing. that is being substituted for this ‘w’ word because you are referencing to what you know it is without explicitly saying it. That’s a good name for ‘w’ words, reference words. These reference words that i speak of are the words with which a large portion of questions begin. What where why when who (plus that and this but you can’t begin questions with them).

    Please don’t stop reading. I know this is difficult and boring, but at least you are understanding the difficulty that people trying to learn english face every day. However, go get a glass of water or a sandwich or something.

    Now that you’re back, let’s see why I used ‘whom’ in that sentence talking about the lovely Pansy Parkinson. All we must do is simply answer the question to understand.

    Well isn’t it obvious; I’m going with him, Draco Malfoy.

    I’ve bolded the most important word, for our purposes, in that sentence. Notice that I used ‘him’ and not ’he’ there. Him is the object form of the male pronoun. In the question that was asked, the answer was going to be an object, so you used ‘whom’ and not ‘who’. The same goes for who, though.

    Who is going with Pansy?
    He is going with Pansy.

    Do you see the symmetry?

    Now that you are comfortable with changing your questions around to being correct, let’s venture intothe nebulous stuff. It is of my opinion that one should NEVER end a sentence with a preposition unless there is a phrasal verb that requres it. However, many english teachers disagree with me, explaining that it isn’t necesarily incorrect to do so, just common and a tiny bit trashy. NONONO. Learn this method, and sound better than everyone you know.

    So we’re going to first go back to those reference words and further define them. All of those words take the place of something else. Heh. I guess we should call them superpronouns then. I dunno. Scourge? You know what they’re called?

    What- refers to things (the default)
    Where- refers to locations
    When- refers to times
    Why- refers to reasons
    Which- similar to what. Used when you know the category of the thing
    Whom- refers to people

    So when you redo a sentence to correctly position the preposition, you’re going to 1) find out to wht the preposition is refering, 2) choose the according reference word, and 3) place the preposition before the reference word at the beginning of the sentence. Let’s try a simple conversion.

    Harry Potter, from whom Voldemort took his parents, had no knowledge that he was a wizard.

    As you may have noticed, the reference word is often times already there for you. You just need to move your preposition over. Here is another example.

    Let me tell you the story without which you cannot hope to understand the complexities of wizard politics.

    Just remember this only works when you have a sentence that would end in a preposition and it will impress almost anyone, especially me.

    Holy crap that was a lot of writing.

  14. #14
    Vampire Grader sorocoroto's Avatar
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    Default Re: Grammar Gripes

    I think that I shall throw in something into here:

    Lay Versus Lie

    "Lay" requires a direct object while "lie" does not.

    Correct: You lay a book on the table.
    Correct: You lie on the sofa.
    Incorrect/???: You lay there.

    In the last case, I've seen writers mistake "there" for an object, while in fact it is an adverb modifying the verb. However, this also brings up another confusing point with lay and lie: tenses.

    Present, Past, Past Participle,
    Lay, Laid, Laid
    Lie, Lay, Lain

    Going back to the last example, if the sentence is in the past tense, it is correct. So, graders, make sure that the problem is a tense issue or a wrong word issue.

    The dreaded serial/oxford comma

    Ok, this is something that I have a particular interest in. While in the grammar section it says that you need a comma after every word in a list, i.e. I have a dog, cat, and rat, this only mandatory in certain styles of writing:

    Chicago Manual of Style
    American Medical Association
    Oxford Style Manual
    MLA Style Manual

    In fact, there are styles that oppose the use of the serial comma (the the comma used immediately before the conjunction):

    The Times style manual
    The New York Times Stylebook
    AP Stylebook
    University of Oxford Writing and Style Guide
    The Cambridge Guide to English Usage

    Both sides of the argument state that the other's way has ambiguity issues.

    I personally do not like to use the Oxford comma. So, if you see someone that doesn't use it, they are not wrong, and if you say that they are wrong, you are trying to change their style of writing. Since graders are supposed to be helping improve the writer's style, you shouldn't take any points off for this issue, unless they switch between the two styles throughout the story. Then it could mean that it is a mistake.

    So to sum up, just because a writer omits the serial/Oxford comma, doesn't mean that it is a mistake.

    UK spelling v. US spelling

    Along with that note, when you read a story, just make sure if they are writing in Britain-English or American-English before you start going of on their grammar and spelling. Remember: centre, colour, analyse(UK) and center, color, analyze(US).

    If you start seeing writers spelling in a way that is incorrect to you, make sure to check if it is correct for them.

    When grammar errors are intentional

    Sometimes writers deliberately use incorrect grammar in their stories. While we might see it as a mistake, we could be missing something.

    For instance, if the narrator is a six-year-old child and constantly uses phrases like: "Me and my dad went to the market" or "Me and my dog went for a walk," they probably did it for a reason. Reason being, not many six-year-old children have perfect grammar. In fact, making the child speak like this gives them a certain voice in the story.

    Another example is if every single word in a story has a one syllable, it could be because the writer is going for a simple voice in the story. Don't bag on them for not using outlandish words.


    Dialogue tags between dialogue

    This one started showing up frequently, so I felt like it should be addressed. When you have a proper dialogue tag interrupting a single thought/sentence of dialogue, you have the standard comma inside the first half of the dialogue, one after the tag and then make the first word of the second half of the dialogue lower-cased (barring proper nouns). It might be better to give and example:

    "It looks like the rules," Kaiba said, "just got screwed."

    Note that this is the only time that the dialogue after a tag starts off with a lower-case word. (Kaiba said, "It looks like the rules just got screwed.")

    But when the dialogue is not being divided by a tag, it is punctuated like the following:

    "Screw the rules; I've have money," Kaiba said. "Now draw your last pathetic card, Yugi, so I can finish you."

    In this instance, the dialogue tag is not interrupting the dialogue, so you don't connect the tag to the second sentence as you already know who is doing the talking (you would make a new paragraph it was a new speaker).


    Wow, that was long, but I felt like the last one especially needed to be brought up. Will be posting again if I think of anything else.
    Last edited by sorocoroto; 13th September 2011 at 06:45 AM. Reason: No Double Post
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  15. #15
    Registered User Firelight01's Avatar
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    Sep 2011

    Default Re: Grammar Gripes

    I absolutely love this thread. It encompasses all of my woes as a self-titled grammarian. :3

    Something that happens to irk me personally, though, is the "affects" vs. "effects" error mentioned by Scourge of Nemo. I've never really understood what the problem is that people have with this. Generally, "affect" is a verb and "effect" is a noun. It's the same difference between "Rome," the city, and "to roam," which means to traverse.

    Put simply, "affect" is the verb form of "effect," and vice versa. In example:

    • The verb, "to affect" being used: "The rain affects my hair in the worst way: it curls, frizzes, poofs up, and does all other sorts of things.."
    • The noun, "effect" being used: "The French and Indian War had many effects on the world's economy."

    There is a slight snafu when making that generalization, however:
    • It is sometimes correct to use "affect" as a noun. This is because, in psychology, they believe that you can't ever really know what a person is feeling—only what they appear to feel, which is in the definition of "affect." ("I just knew he was putting on this overly-dramatic, melancholy affect to get by without doing his homework.") So, if you feel that the person you're speaking of doesn't actually feel they way they seem to be—or you just don't wish to assume that they do—you can use "affect" as a noun in that manner. It's really just in psychology, though, so don't worry too much about this.
    • Also, "effect" can be used as a verb. It's just... Uncommon. It means "to produce as an effect (the noun) of an action" or "to accomplish." I imagine someone using it as they run for some sort of political office. "I hope to effect change and prosperity to our fair nation!" That's the way to use "effect" as a verb. You can pretty much disregard this part, though. It's a little inconsequential. It's nice to know where those little back-doors in English are, though, right?
    Last edited by Firelight01; 22nd September 2011 at 06:32 PM.

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