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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tips for Sharpening Your Writing Skills


MAKE USE OF THE 20 FIGURES OF SPEECH
(Thursdays, from May 24 to October 4)

2. Anaphora [uh-naf-er-uh]: The repetition of a word or expression at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses, sentences, or verses.

Purpose:
To dramatize an idea or theme
To build toward a climax for a strong emotional effect

Examples of anaphora:

We cannot dedicate—we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow—this ground.” (Abraham Lincoln's “Gettysburg Address”)

"Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine."
(Rick Blaine in Casablanca)

"I needed a drink, I needed life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun."
(Raymond Chandler, Farewell, My Lovely, 1940)

“We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender."
(Winston Churchill, speech to the House of Commons, June 4, 1940)

“To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born,
     And a time to die;
A time to plant,
     And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill,
     And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
   And a time to build up . . .”
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-3, NKJV)

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was fond of anaphora.
"But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free.

One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.

One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.

One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land.

And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition."

(“I have a Dream,” 1963)


FRIDAY: MORE ON PRONOUN ANTECEDENTS

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Pronoun Antecedents


Grammar Rule #1 (continued from Monday): A pronoun must agree with its antecedent in number.

Two or more singular antecedents connected by and are taken jointly and are referred to by a plural pronoun.
Examples:
The man and woman raised their hands to volunteer.
NOT: The man and woman raised his hand and her hand to volunteer.

The boy and girl had gifts sent to them.
NOT: The boy and girl had gifts sent to him and her.

EXCEPTIONS TO THIS RULE (OUCH!):
  • When two or more singular antecedents connected by and make a unit or refer to the same thing, use a singular pronoun.

        Examples:
        Black and gold is the color scheme, and it decorates the invitations.
        NOT: Black and gold is the color scheme, and they decorate the invitations.

        An officer and gentleman received his well-deserved commendation today.

  • When each, every, or no modifies two or more singular antecedents connected by and, use a singular pronoun.

        Examples:
        Every shop and store puts its merchandise on sale after Christmas.
        NOT: Every shop and store puts their merchandise on sale after Christmas.

        Each dog and cat has its unique personality.
        NOT: Each dog and cat has their unique personality.

        No college and university wants its state funding reduced.
        NOT: No college and university wants their state funding reduced.

  • When two or more singular antecedents are connected by or or nor, use a singular pronoun.

        Examples:
        Sam or Bill or Pete is coming, and he wants money.
        NOT: Sam or Bill or Pete is coming, and they want money.

        Neither a rose nor a daisy looks its best in this weather.
        NOT: Neither a rose nor a daisy looks their best in this weather.

Summary of 3 Exceptions:
Use a singular pronoun when the 2+ singular antecedents are—
                  connected by and and make a unit
                  connected by and and modified by each, every, nor
                  connected by or or nor

Ouch! Two more horrid exceptions on Friday!

Grammar Challenge: Your turn! Which answer is correct?
         1. Check or credit card is acceptable, but (it requires, they require) a signature.
         2. Each car and truck gets (its, their) own license plate.
         3. The father and son parked (his, their) bikes outside the library.
         4. We eat pizza or spaghetti or lasagna on Saturdays, and (it makes, they make) me gain weight.
         5. Chocolate and vanilla is my favorite ice cream combo, and (it tastes, they taste) best in a cone.
         6. Neither the car nor truck had (its, their) license plate current.
(Answers are below.)

THURSDAY: TIPS FOR SHARPENING YOUR WRITING SKILLS.
FRIDAY: MORE ON PRONOUN ANTECEDENTS.

Answers:
         1. it requires
         2. its
         3. their
         4. it makes
         5. it tastes
         6. its

Did the summary of the exceptions help you breeze through this test?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tips for Sharpening Your Writing Skills


CLUTTER-WORDS EDITORS HATE
(collected from their blogs, ulp!)

Fillers: begin, start, started to, almost, decided to, planned to, a little bit, almost
Example: Rebecca started walking toward the door.
Better: Rebecca walked toward the door.
Weasel Words: really, well, so, a lot of, anyway, just, oh, suddenly, immediately, kind of, extremely
Example: Suddenly, a lot of really dried leaves scuttled across the sidewalk.
Better: Dried leaves scuttled across the sidewalk.
Extraneous adverbs: only, very, quite, rather, somewhat, a lot
Example: He only wanted a kiss and was rather surprised she was very insulted.
Better: He wanted a kiss and was surprised she was insulted.

Adverbs paired with weak verbs: especially adverbs ending in ly. Replace with a strong, active verb
Example: The child walked slowly after his mother.
Better: The child trudged after his mother.

Generic verbs: saw, heard, thought, felt. Replace with strong, active verbs.
Example: She saw the ogre and felt sick.
Better: She glimpsed the ogre and her stomach lurched.

Unnecessary that or then. Test to see if you can eliminate them.
Example: He hoped that she came. When she didn’t, then he cried.
Better: He hoped she came. When she didn’t, he cried.


WEDNESDAY: MORE ON PRONOUN ANTECEDENTS

Monday, May 28, 2012

Pronoun Antecedents


Grammar Review: Definitions of pronoun and antecedent.

  • pronoun: a word that substitutes for a noun or occasionally another pronoun.        
  • antecedent: the word (and occasionally a phrase or clause) referred to by a pronoun. 

       Examples:
       Frank [antecedent] is home now, and he [pronoun] can answer the phone.
       This [pronoun] is the receipt [antecedent].
       Liam is a student, and John [antecedent] is another [pronoun].

Grammar Rule #1: A pronoun must agree with its antecedent in number.

A pronoun is singular or plural to match its antecedent.
Examples:
The car [singular antecedent] needs repair or it [singular pronoun] won’t run.
The car and driver [plural antecedent] hit a telephone pole but they [plural pronoun] are okay.

  • A collective noun (e.g., group, team, audience) takes either a singular or plural pronoun, depending on whether the noun functions as a unit or as individuals.

       Examples:
       The team [as a unit] played well, and it [singular pronoun] won the game.
       The team [as individuals] rushed onto the field to take their [plural pronoun] positions.

  • A singular noun modified by two or more adjectives that denote variety may take a plural pronoun to clarify the distinction.

        Example:
        Australian and American football differ greatly in their rules.

  • When multiple possible antecedents exist, rewrite for clarity.

        Examples:
        Ambiguous: Joan visited Patty after her honeymoon. (Whose honeymoon, Joan’s or Patty’s?)
        Rewrite for Joan: Joan, who was home from her honeymoon, visited Patty.
        Rewrite for Patty: Joan visited Patty, who was home from her honeymoon.

        Ambiguous: When the plates are empty or the guests leave the table, they must be rinsed with hot water. (Oooooo, the guests won’t appreciate being rinsed!)
        Rewrite: The plates must be rinsed with hot water when they are empty or when the guests leave the table.

CONTINUED ON WEDNESDAY: Argh! What to do when number agreement gets tangled between pronoun and antecedent.

Grammar Challenge: Your turn! Choose the correct answer:
         1. The crew arrived, proud of (its, their) win.
         2. The crew arrived, ready to do (its, their) jobs.
      3. Italian and French food require distinctive ingredients for (its, their) recipes.
      4. An Italian and French dictionary requires linguistic skills in (its, their) users.
         5. The mother and her daughter are on a cruise, and the rough seas often make (her, them) seasick.
      6. Rewrite for clarity: The mother saw her daughter on her vacation. (Mom is the one on vacation.)
(Answers are below.)

TUESDAY: TIPS FOR SHARPENING YOUR WRITING SKILLS.
WEDNESDAY: MORE ON PRONOUN ANTECEDENTS.

Answers:
         1. its (the crew as a unit won)
         2. their (the members of the crew had individual jobs)
         3. their (to clarify they are different)
         4. its (the dictionary as a unit covers both languages)
         5. them (mother and her daughter form a plural antecedent)
         6. The mother, who was on vacation, saw her daughter.

  • Questions or comments?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Grammar Yammer Schedule


Monday, Wednesday, Friday: grammar and punctuation

Tuesday, Thursday: "Tips for Sharpening Your Writing Skills"



To receive daily lessons by EMAIL, go to ”Email address . . . Submit” at the top of this page and enter your information.



To make COMMENTS, click on “comments” at the bottom of the page. If you don’t have an account with Google, etc., don’t be afraid to open one. They don’t bug you or ask you for money or advertise naughty women.

After your account is set up, all you will ever have to do after clicking on “comment” is type in the squiggly letters/numbers that pop up (they keep the boogeyman Spam away). Then type in your comment. Thank you—I love hearing from you!

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Dash ("Em Dash")


Grammar Rule #6: Use em dashes to set off parenthetical elements.

A parenthetical element is a word, phrase, or sentence inserted into the primary sentence to add information. It is a digression whose interruption of the sentence is pointed out by additional punctuation. This punctuation can be commas, parentheses, or dashes.

So, how do you choose between them?

1. Use commas when the additional information is closely tied to the content of the rest of the sentence.
         Example:
         My brother, a paleontologist, collects fossils.

Use a pair of commas to set off the extra information, unless the information ends the sentence and a period replaces the second comma.
Example:
The man who collects fossils is my brother, a paleontologist.

2. Use parentheses to indicate the additional information is minimal or so-so in importance.
         Example:
         The babysitter (our neighbor down the street) arrived late.

Always use a pair of parentheses to set off the extra information. At the end of the sentence, the period goes outside the closing parenthesis.
Example:
I always use the same babysitter (our neighbor down the street).

3. Use dashes to give emphasis to the additional information.
         Example:
My sister—who can do no wrong, you know—was always the first to correct me.        

Use a pair of dashes to set off the extra information, unless the information ends the sentence and a period replaces the second dash.
Example:
Always first to correct me was my sister—she who can do no wrong, you know.

Do not use more than two dashes per sentence. Use parentheses for additional parenthetical information.
Example:
My sister—who can do no wrong, you know—was always the first to correct me (yep, I deserved it).        

Grammar Rule #7: Use a question mark or exclamation point before a dash, but not a comma, colon, or semicolon.

         Examples:
I ate a whole box of chocolates—what was I thinking?—and got sick.

I ate a whole box of chocolates—wow, they were good!—and got sick.

A period in an abbreviation may be used before a dash.
         Example:
My whole family—grandparents, parents, sibs, nieces, etc.—pitched in to help me.

Parentheses may be used inside a parenthetical element set off by dashes.
         Example:
My little brother—ever the faithful tattle-tale (we hated each other for years)—was never my chosen companion.  
        
Grammar Challenge: Your Turn! Replace the X with the punctuation you think best sets off the parenthetical elements:
         1. Sam’s wife X abandoned as a toddler X craves love and                  attention.
         2. Sam’s wife X she’s quite a looker X craves love and                          attention.
         3. Sam’s wife X Miss Idaho in 1996 X craves love and                          attention.
4. When we drove to Florida X it took twenty hours X gas cost a little over a dollar.
5. When we drove to Florida X our annual summer destination X gas cost a little over a dollar.
6. When we drove to Florida X without stopping, mind you! X gas cost a little over a dollar.
 (Answers are below.)

WHAT GRAMMAR OR PUNCTUATION TOPICS WOULD YOU LIKE ME TO ADDRESS? I'M HERE FOR YOU!

Answers:
1. Commas, because of the close tie to the content of the primary sentence.
          2. Dashes, because of the emphasis on her looks.
3. Parentheses, because being Miss Idaho in 1996 is minimally important
4. Parentheses, because taking twenty hours is minimally important.
5. Commas, because of the close tie to the content of the primary sentence. Parentheses would also be acceptable if the information is considered minimally important.
6. Dashes, because of the emphasis on not stopping.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tips for Sharpening Your Writing Skills


MAKE USE OF THE 20 FIGURES OF SPEECH
(Thursdays, from May 24 to October 4)

1. Alliteration: The repetition of an initial consonant sound in neighboring words.

Uses:
Most often used in poetry and music.
Adds interest to the writing.
Adds emphasis by drawing attention to the words.
Creates “atmosphere” through the sounds.
Makes memorable names for characters, titles, etc.
Useful in memorization.

Warnings:
Use them sparingly.
Editors tend to cringe at their use in prose.

Examples of alliteration:

“The soul selects her own society.” (Emily Dickinson)

"The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."
(Henry David Thoreau, Walden)

“I watched the bare brown back of the prisoner marching in front of me.” (George Orwell, “A Hanging”)

phrases: busy as a bee, a dime a dozen, sink or swim, give up the ghost

tongue twisters: “She sells seashells down by the seashore,” “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers”

from Harry Potter: Godric Gryffindor, Severus Snape, Cho Chang

from Superman comics: Lois Lane, Lex Luthor, Clark Kent

films: King Kong, Dirty Dancing

famous people: Ronald Reagan, Jesse Jackson

merchants: Bed Bath & Beyond, Chuckee Cheese, Pay Pal

sports teams: Seattle Seahawks, Buffalo Bills

merchandise: Coca-Cola, Blue Bonnet

Can you add to the list of examples?

FRIDAY: MORE ON THE EM DASH
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