Tag: grammar


Fire the Grammar Police and Read this Book

Read this book. Just do it. It doesn’t matter if you are a writer or not. Words are the building blocks of communication and how we use them matters. There are rules, some of which are okay to break, but there are others that signal a lack of talent using your native language. This is not going to win you points in your professional or personal life. A judge once told me that if he sees an attorney spell “judgment” with an “e,” the lawyer immediately loses credibility with him. (Unless the lawyer was from England where the word is spelled “judgement.”) Dreyer’s English, An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style, was written by Benjamin Dreyer, copy chief of Random House was released on January 29, 2019, and is currently #359 in all books on Amazon. It is #1 in several word and grammar categories. Dreyer’s English is that good. The fiction writer in me marvels that a book about grammar soars above great works of fiction. What is going on here? This is the second time this week I have confessed that I attended Catholic school. In addition, I was raised by a father who received a master’s […]

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Rules and breaking them

A grammar and punctuation maven, I am not. I want to be, though. The more I read and the more I write, the more I appreciate those writers who not only dazzle with storyline and character, but who also construct sentences with careful thought. It isn’t that these writers always follow the rules, but when they break them, it’s with style. So, I’m happily embarking on the never-ending journey of learning the rules . . . and how to break them. What the rules are is up for debate. Reasonable people can disagree (cue: Oxford comma). I think it’s a writer’s obligation to make an effort to know both the rules and the debates about them. I may never have the depth of knowledge that, say, my editor or agent has, but I’m going to at least try. The Elements of Style is always a good place to start. I have the 2005 edition Maira Kalmon illustrated. It makes me smile every time I open it. Lynne Truss’ Eats, Shoots & Leaves, Kingsley Amis’ The King’s English and Stephen King’s On Writing are some of my favorite reads when I want to give in to my inner writer geek.  I’m also a fan of some of the on-line grammar gurus. Grammar Girl, Grammarly, and Oxford Dictionaries are just the thing when I’m in […]

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