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Seven Commonly Corrected Grammar Errors That Aren't Mistakes


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That's hilarious, Gee. Thanks for posting. I'm saving the link for use whenever I encounter someone who would benefit from the information it contains.

Colin :icon_geek:

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I know a (fairly famous) local author, who has a huge pet peeve about the word "hopefully." After I initially met him in the 1980s, he managed to convince me to never use the word "hopefully" in conversation, replacing it with "one hopes" -- which sounds pompous, but to me, it's grammatically more correct.

But I will use the word in dialogue, just because... it's the way people talk! :angel2[1]:

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I started chuckling at "Up with chaos! Down at grammar!"

By the time I got to "Dongtacularly," I lost it.

Cracked has some excellent writers - I recently started David Wong's book, John Dies At The End. I recommend it.

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A well written piece, grammatical errors and all. The point being that language evolves, or in the case of internet usage, devolves.

After about twenty more years of texting I imagine several things will happen: Either we will mutate as a species with odd looking thumbs, or the English language will no longer resemble anything like we use today. Dongtacular indeed!

Like most people over the age of fifty, I was crammed full of grammar lessons in school and once graduated promptly forgot all I was taught. But this nagging little voice in my head still keeps popping up with a timely "Uh no, bad grammar, you idiot" on occasion. I wish it would just go away and leave me in peace.

I think most writers have a similar viewpoint: I fancy myself a communicator. Like an artist with a paint brush, I choose words to create a picture that is satisfactory in my mind. No one tells the artist that he/she/it used too much sienna in the color mix. (The latter is in tribute to all the animals now making millions in the art world, go figure) Why shouldn't the writer be able to pick and choose their own words and present them as a work of art?

Communicate, that is all we are required to do, the hell with the rest. If you understand what I am saying, and hopefully enjoy what I write, then I have succeeded. Not like you paid for this bucket full of words. I suppose if my/our/its work survives another twenty years no one will be able to read this silly rant. Maybe I should take up painting.

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This certainly points out what we're all faced with when writing.

There is some merit in writing elegantly. And to be really elegant, one should follow the rules. But there's merit, too, in being au courant. And in effectively communicating to the largest audience possible.

Writing has always seemed to me to involve choices, constant and continual choices being made with most every sentence we write.

We get to choose whether to strictly adhere to the rules of grammar, or to violate them. And in my opinion, like every other choice we make, that decision should depend on the story, the mood we're setting, the atmosphere we're trying to create, the spophistication and education of the characters, the place the story is set, the age of the characters...all these and many more aspects of what we're creating.

It's part of what makes writing fun. And I don't know about you guys, but I delight in knowingly breaking rules when doing so enhances and helps sell the story. And if while doing so I hear a little voice that sounds suspiciously like my sixth grade grammar teacher, Miss Snowdon, saying I can't split that infinitive like I just did, it simply makes my grin a little wider.

C

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I do the same thing while writing, make choices as I go about breaking rules, and how I'm going to break them. I usually have good reasons when I do. Or at least I like to believe my reasons are good. As Cole says, intentionally breaking the rules at carefully chosen times can add a lot to the story, to characters, to the time and place, the setting, the character's ages and socio-economic status, etc. I too get a smile on my face when I knowingly break some rule, and hope my English teachers from long ago don't stumble upon my story and write a scathing email.

I still have troubles with people using the word "literally" figuratively. If we water it down like that, how do we know if someone truly, actually means literally? Do they now have to say, "Yes, actually literally. Like really, truly literally." Seems like extra unnecessary work. And you can't always tell from context, though I'll admit you usually can.

Most surprisingly, no comments here on dangling testicles. I find I'm a bit disappointed...

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Right on, Cole! Can you believe it, my seventh grade English teacher was named...Mrs. English. Her version of hell was making us diagram sentences...such an evil chore. But she was a nice lady and we all did what we were told. No corporal punishment in that classroom.

Come on, Chris. Diagramming sentences isn't such an onerous chore as you make it seem. It can even be fun. I went to a Catholic elementary school, and we had to diagram sentences starting in the fifth grade. Fortunately I moved on to the public intermediate school starting in the sixth grade and my sentence diagramming days were (thank God!) over.

There's a little (150 pages) book all about diagramming sentences: Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog, The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences, by Kitty Burns Florey, Harcourt, 2007. It's $5.98 for paperback at Amazon.com (there's no Kindle edition).

Colin :icon_geek:

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Hmm, Colin, I went to a Catholic elementary school as well. Taught by Christian brothers who gave quite a good education. But we were studying French by third grade and Latin by the fifth grade, none of which I recall. The diagramming days were in public school and so as you can imagine they were by rote, rather dry lessons in comprehension for a thirteen year old, and that is how I remember them.

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I like grammar, but I never got the point of how diagramming sentences was really helpful, except to create an unlikely mess of branches on the page, and a lot of eraser dust. English structure doesn't really fit with the underlying logic behind English grammar, to draw it out in any understandable way. The logic is certainly there. But diagramming also tends toward a Latin-based grammar, like the old formal English grammarians tried to push onto English. But English isn't a Latinate language, fundamentally, and isn't heading that way, but away from it.

Our high school was lucky to have Spanish, French, and German. Ditto for my junior high. I don't know if they offer Japanese or Latin or any others there now. They do still offer English.

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I remember diagramming sentences in some grade in school, but I can't remember which class. I loved it at the time, because it made me feel in control of the language that I was using. After following this post, I looked up "sentence diagramming" and was shocked at how much I had forgotten of the mechanics. At least I had forgotten the rules of sentence diagramming. But, I hadn't forgotten the logic behind analyzing a sentence, That has kept me focused on the other decisions I have had to make in my life. I learned to separate the emotions of a decision and focus on the facts, to get at the essence of the issue.

My logic classes gave me nothing, but diagramming sentences gave me logic, Maybe being an anal engineer helped too.

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