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GRAMMATICAL NOOK

 

The grammatical nook is dedicated to the aspiring writer.  

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The Elements of Style  
by William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White

Becoming a Writer
    
by Dorothea Brande

Beyond Style
   
by Gary Provost

Errors in English
 
   
by Harry Shaw

Spider, Spin Me a Web
 by Lawrence Block
Make That Scene
 
   
by William Noble

Complete Wordfinder
    
Reader's Digest - Oxford

Dictionary of Problem Words and Expressions
    
by Harry Shaw

The Synonym Finder
    
by J. I. Rodale
 
Writer's Market
 
by Writer's Digest Books w/Electronic Edition 

Guide to Literary Agents
by Writer's Digest Books
The Forest for the Trees
 
by Betsy Lerner

Secret Windows
 
by Stephen King (mostly about horror writing but with some good basic tips.
 

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PET PEEVES:

I/Me: The use of I and me can be confusing to some.  To those who know, it can be like a chalk on the black board, and to those who don't, it doesn't really matter except that sometimes when it's used in the correct context, it is mistaken as incorrect.  Are you confused yet?  The "I" is always the subject.  (I went to the market.  He and I are best friends.)  On the other hand, "me" is always the object of something(It was given to you and me.  He is joking with you and me.  "To" and "with" are prepositions, which take objects.)  (He taunted me.  "Taunted" is a verb and "me" is the object.)  

Just/Yet: The redundancy in the use of "just yet" can go virtually unnoticed.  Yet: can mean just now - found as #2 under the word "yet" in the "The Synonym Finder." 

Eager/Anxious: Eager and anxious are often confused and misused.  Eager, of course, means you are looking forward to, anticipating, etc.  Anxious is when something makes one uneasy.  Flying in airplanes makes me anxious not eager. 

Forte/Forte: I find it very grating to hear “that is his forte (fort-tay)” when they mean “that is his forte (fort)”.  Forte has two meanings both pronounced differently.  Forte (fort) is a strong point, as of a person; that in which one excels.  Forte (fort-tay) means loud; with force.  

That/Who: If who equals person and that equals thing, then how, may I ask, does one say: She is the one that won the prize?  I've been hearing this one a great deal lately.  

Here's a little tip on inserting commas when using a "who" phrase.  If the sentence requires the who phrase to explain why a person is being mentioned, then no commas are needed.  If the phrase is not required, then the commas are needed.  If you do, you don't and if you don't, you do.  No commas are used when using the word "that."

Its/It's: Believe it or not the possessive form of the word is the one without the apostrophe.  The word "it" with the apostrophe stands for "it is."

More abbreviations: "We are" becomes "we're" (not were); "they are" becomes "they're" (not their); "he is" becomes "he's" (the possessive for he is his); "she is" become "she's" (the possessive for she is her)  

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ADVERBS:

An adverb is a word or phrase that modifies or qualifies another word or a group of words, expressing a relation of place, time, circumstance, manner, cause, degree, etc.  It modifies an adjective, verb, or another adverb.  

Many times you'll want to use an adverb to describe something that undergoes a movement.  For example:  I walked quickly through the crowd.  Quickly is the adverb that describes how the person walked through the crowd.  Walked is a form of movement.

Note that I said "many times."  The above statement is not always the case since many adverbs will modify an adjective or another adverb.  

Adverbs ending with "ly" seem to have disappeared from our vocabulary, wiped clean from the face of the earth.  

"I'm doing wonderful" - should read "I'm doing wonderfully."

"I did bad on the exam" - should read "I did badly on the exam."

Now if a writer wishes to avoid too many adverbs in his or her exposé, the trick is not in dropping the "ly" from a word but, in fact, it is in the rewriting of a sentence all together.  For instance, "I did badly on the exam" -  becomes "I flunked the exam" or something similar.  The writer may keep it simple or elaborate with a lengthier sentence.  Either way, it should be completely rewritten.   

I have found that when I use a word that ends with "ly" sparingly in my writing, the carefully chosen adverb can add a certain zing to what I'm expressing.  Sometimes the word  will provide just the right sound for me, so I'll keep it in.

You can add "ly" to an adjective to make it an adverb.  But keep in mind that not all adverbs come from adjectives.  

To change an adjective to an adverb, read on.

"She displayed a quick mind."  Quick is an adjective, which describes what kind of mind the girl displayed.  Add the "ly" to the word quick and it becomes an adverb.  "She quickly thought of what to do."  Quickly describes the movement of her mind.  Also see the movement example above.  

Once you get into the habit of converting adjectives to adverbs it'll become almost second nature to you and you'll know by instinct whether the adjective is changeable or not.  You will also be able to automatically convert the adverb back to an adjective.

Not all adverbs use "ly" at the end of the word.  And not all words ending with "ly" are adverbs.  

FOOD FOR A WRITER'S THOUGHT:  
Writers work in their sleep. 
Writers know other worlds.  
Writers work weekends.
Writers defend
Writers agonize

 

Nook

Pet Peeves

More Pet Peeves

Adverbs

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