In my daily perusal – read – of a multitude of blog and websites, I’ve discovered some uh-oh moments. Despite the type of blog, the number of individuals involved with the blog, or the purpose of the writing, the mistakes exist. No Grammar Police hat worn here. But I will say that on-page mistakes threaten our reader’s pleasure.
Good writing is hard work. More importantly, easy reading is harder work.
GOOD GRAMMAR — Wait! Don’t stop reading yet.
I know . . . I know . . .The word GRAMMAR should be issued in a whisper.
Ears snap closed like a gator before his midnight snack.
Patience, Padawan – this could be useful information.
I’m aware of the Kurt Vonnegut Tweet circulating that condemns the semicolon as a useless brush with higher education and writers would do well to exorcise (not quite Linda Blair in The Exorcist, but close) the tiny punctuation mark from their prose.
Well, you caught me. I did go to university. I did study English (English Composition minor). So, I’m guilty of exercising – not exorcising – advanced punctuation. However, if you don’t know the difference between a semicolon (;) and a colon (:) and when to use each, then you have a writer’s duty: learn it.
WHY? Is that your writer’s duty?
Q: How can you possibly break grammatical rules if you don’t know them?
A: You can’t.
Kurt might have hated the semicolon, but the man knew how to use it before tossing it out of his literary realm.
Brief explanation –
Use a semicolon to bring together two complete sentences (related sentences) without a conjunction.
**The hard-drinking party girl closed down the bar; her next day was spent hugging the ceramic throne.**
Two related sentences. Same subject in both sentences. Second sentence demonstrates the result of the first sentence.
The much-maligned semicolon certainly sports more uses than the one above, but to strengthen writing without sending the brain into grammatical shock – pick out one aspect of a semicolon and develop the habit.
Painless? Not necessarily.
Guaranteed writing growth? Probably.
Stronger reader comprehension? Absolutely.
And if you’re taking the time to share your thoughts, advice, information with readers, make it worth their reading while.
I’d planned a short discussion on comma and phrases and clauses and then realized . . . there is no such thing as a short discussion for the comma.
Lengthy subject: The Chicago Manual of Style, 7th Edition, dedicates fifty-five (55) pages to the use of the comma.
Please, if your version of the manual style has a different page count on the ubiquitous comma, don’t notify me. I’ll take your word for it. Suffice it to say, the comma covers a great deal of written ground. If unfamiliar with the comma, consider some of the suggested reading listed below.
However, grammar lessons isn’t over – in this knock-out round, let’s discuss,
Subject – Verb VS. Subject – Predicate
I chose this picture because I’m envious of anyone with this conditioning. Ring-side managers would need to call out paramedics/chiropractors if I even managed to get my leg in this position.
Yet, the picture is accurate for many of us (I’ll include myself here, thank you very much) in readily knowing and understanding the difference between Subject – Verb and Subject – Predicate.
For bloggers, who venture to amazing places, enjoying delicacies I can often not pronounce or engage in hang-gliding, sky-diving, rock-climbing that I’d not be brave enough to try; for the newbie writers finding their literary feet; for the article innocents preparing for the world of submission and rejection, I beg you to learn the basis of sentence structure for Subjects & Predicates.
She is the subject.
Jumped is the verb. (A verb that shows action.)
I said it was a simple sentence, but now it gets a bit trickier.
What if the verb didn’t show action? What if the verb was one of those sly ‘state of being’ verbs?
Forms of to be
be, am, is, are, was, were, been, being
Other Linking Verbs
appear, become, feel, grow, look, seem, remain, smell, sound, stay, taste, turn
What? What did she taste? Isn’t taste an action? I always thought so, but if it’s an action verb, why doesn’t the sentence seem complete?
Because taste is a tricky linking verb and now needs a predicate to modify – to complete the sentence.
She tasted the sweet flavor of the season’s first apple.
She tasted the bitterness of defeat.
She tasted salty. (Tasted salty? Who would think that, much less write it?)
As he nibbled her neck, she tasted salty.
Don’t wrinkle your nose. If you’ve read a handful of romance books, you’ve encountered something similar.
The point is:
What comes after ‘tasted’ is vital to sentence comprehension, which means ‘tasted (verb required for a predicate) the sweet flavor of the season’s first apple’ is in fact a PREDICATE.
A PREDICATE or better known as that which modifies the subject of a sentence. In this case, the subject is ‘she’.
All right, before your brain explodes from grammar TNT, I’ll remind you that as a writer, you must possess – and actually – read grammar HOW TO books.
A few healthy examples : The Chicago Manual of Style
English Grammar for Dummies
Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips.
If you want to be considered a Professional Writer, even a semi-competent writer, then EARN IT!
Homework doesn’t end just because you are an adult. If anything, it’s a more serious form of homework.
Whether Ms. Smith gave you an A on a writing composition isn’t nearly as important as if your readers enjoy the stories you share, the information you impart, or the wisdom you reveal.
Don’t bungle your blogging.
Oh, and if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll have a read a number of colons (:) in this blog: find them.
Summer is in full ‘steam’ on the back porch. Do drop by again.