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Friday, December 25, 2009

Common Grammar Mistakes

Hello Fellow Writers!

I've been working on revising my romance novel "Snowed in With a Millionaire" based on my critique partner's suggestions. Maureen catches a lot of little things that I would never have noticed - like using the word "insure" when I mean "ensure", and she helps point out passages that are confusing. The heroine looks at the hero's face but is noticing the boots? Oops.

Here are some common grammatical problems that people make, and how to fix them. Remember though - we are writing fiction, not school papers. Our characters won't speak in perfectly correct English any more than we will! That said, here's an excerpt from an article entitled "Common Grammer and Usage Mistakes", from EnglishChick.com.

Comma Splice

A comma splice is the incorrect use of a comma to connect two independent clauses. (Recall that an independent clause is a phrase that is grammatically and conceptually complete: that is, it can stand on its own as a sentence.) To correct the comma splice, you can:
  • replace the comma with a period, forming two sentences
  • replace the comma with a semicolon
  • join the two clauses with a conjunction such as "and," "because," "but," etc.
I like Xena, she is very sexy. 
I like Xena. She is very sexy. 
I like Xena; she is very sexy. 
I like Xena, because she is very sexy. 

Dangling Participles

A participle is a verb-form that ends in -ing. It is called "dangling" when it doesn't agree with its subject.
While walking down the road, a tree caught Xena's attention.
The subject of the sentence is "a tree," but it is not the tree that is doing the walking, therefore the participle "walking" is dangling. To correct the sentence, write:
While walking down the road, Xena noticed a tree
A tree caught Xena's attention as she walked down the road.
Remember that not all words that end in -ing are participles (e.g. thing) and some participles are gerunds depending on context. (A gerund is a participle that is functioning as a noun, e.g. "My favorite activity is sleeping.")

Ending a Sentence with a Preposition

Contrary to popular belief, there is no agreement on this one among English professionals. In general, especially if your audience is strict about rules, don't end a sentence with a preposition. Prepositions are little words that indicate position and such: with, at, by, from, etc. In general a preposition should come before ("pre"-position) the noun it modifies. So you should change
That's the warrior I must talk to
That's the warrior to whom I must talk.
However, if too many "to whom"s and "of which"s are making your writing unnecessarily clumsy, go ahead and end with the preposition, especially in informal writing. Remember the famous example (credited to Winston Churchill) that goes: "This is the kind of thing up with which I will not put!"

Read the rest of the article here, it's very helpful!

Today is Christmas - Merry Christmas, everyone! Since I am Jewish, I have my hubby home with me and nothing to do but work on my short story for Ellora's Cave.
Wish me luck, and good luck to you too!

Yours Truly,
Shoshanna Evers

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