The Grammar Query Thread!

Discussion in 'Writing' started by Forrest, Aug 29, 2002.

  1. K_Spires

    K_Spires Wizard Errant

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    It's a style guide, just like any other. Honestly, unless someone points out an error, the error isn't there. If people read over the "error" without stopping, it isn't much of an error.

    People are going to understand the possessive meaning of Jules' and Jules's, either way. I like the Strunk and White guide myself. I think it is a safe, non superflouse way of writing. I can't claim to adhere to it one hundred percent. But I think it is a good place to start.

    But people can pull from many grammatical sources to justify corrections that they deem important. Most grammar text books are harder to follow than Strunk and White's guide. I highly recommend it.
     
  2. Takeikin

    Takeikin New Member

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    This is driving me nuts...no one I ask knows. Sorry if it's been posted; I don't have time to read all those.

    Would I say "All (noun)s are not (adjective)" or "Not all (noun)s are (adj.)"?
    It seems to me that, although I see the first used a lot, the second would make more sense. The first seems to imply that because ALL (noun)s are (adj) no (noun)s are (adj)'s opposite. E.G.:
    "All Vietnamese are not bad" or
    "Not all Vietnamese are bad"?
     
  3. K_Spires

    K_Spires Wizard Errant

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    The second is a clearer way of describing what you want to say.
     
  4. Dawnstorm

    Dawnstorm Master Obfuscator

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    I like that attitude.

    Agree. But it's a matter of style, really. It's not so much the book that riles me, but that many people refer to it as an authority.

    That's okay. Neither do Strunk and White. It's fun to correct them with their own guide. You should try it once.

    Well, as you said it's a style guide. You're not going to learn grammar from it. Actually, if you don't know grammar, what are you going to make of this sentence, in "Use the Active Voice"?

    How many of Srunk's readers know what a "transitive" is? And how does it relate to the "active voice"? (And where is the lively active voice in this sentence? Is this one of the "exceptions" they point out?)

    You won't learn grammar from S&W; for that you'll still need the harder-to-follow text books.

    I wouldn't advise saying "Not all Vietnamese are bad," as it may include an implied admission that most are.

    "All Vietnamese are not bad," sounds like a passionate reprisal to a often heared and just repeated stereotype. Syntactically, "all Vietnamese" would have to be treated somewhat like "The Vietnamese, as a group, are not bad." It's unusual syntax, but apparantly it happens. (Notice that you have to emphasise the "not" to make the sentence work.)

    The two sentences don't sound equivalent. The first makes you sound like a jovial racist, the second one like an easily riled activist (exaggerated for clarity).

    There's always the option of saying: "Most Vietnamese are not bad."
     
  5. K_Spires

    K_Spires Wizard Errant

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    There is a bit of grammar in there. It, however, relies on a basic knowledge by the reader.

    The main question is, of all the examples, why this one? A better example of group division through contrast would be: Not all murderers are sociopaths. Murders are not all sociopaths. Most murderers are not sociopaths.

    That is an eerie example as well, but I'm trying to stay with the theme of: Why would he use that example in the first place?

    Oh, and anyone who attempts to use one small book to define the usage of style within the english language is a dimwit. The english language is complex, convoluted, and weird.

    Edit: For clarification, I mean to say that there are many books which need to be taken into account. I haven't read those other books since High School, but they are there.
     
  6. Dawnstorm

    Dawnstorm Master Obfuscator

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    Hang around a while and you'll notice that I have a Pavlovian reaction to any favourable mention of Strunk & White. I actually have to restrain myself now not to go into rant mode again. ;)
     
  7. Taft

    Taft Master of the Universe

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    Someone says, "I'm going to leave the state," referring to a U.S. state, like California. Is it supposed to be "leave the State" or "leave the state"? State is referring to a specific state in this case, not states in general.

    What do you think?
     
  8. K_Spires

    K_Spires Wizard Errant

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    I try to refrain from using caps unless it is vitally important.

    I'd leave it lower case.

    Also, to the post I never replied back to from Dawnstorm:

    Any book which teaches grammar has a stealth attitude towards style, or perhaps not stealthed at all and overtly attempts to guide the pupil towards certain usages.

    You cannot teach grammar without implying a style. Grammar focuses not only on correct usage of sentence elements but also on proper clarification. I don't think you can learn grammar without also learning a basic style. After all, grammar and style go hand in hand don't they?

    Either you have perfect grammar, and that defines your style. Or you might break certain grammatical rules (like we all do) and therefore develop a style which doesn't rely on some of the grammatical rules.

    Either way, this has little to do with Strunk and White, and a lot to do with grammar textbooks having an underlying style guide beneath the teachings.

    Laters,
    Kyle
     
  9. Dawnstorm

    Dawnstorm Master Obfuscator

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    What do you teach when teaching grammar? Language awareness? Proper usage?

    For writers, I'd argue, the term "perfect grammar" is meaningless.
     
  10. K_Spires

    K_Spires Wizard Errant

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    Aye, for writers who wish to make a career writing, perfect grammar is a hopeless and fruitless pursuit.

    But for students, they are taught inherent styles when learning the basics and intermediates of grammar.
     
  11. Dawnstorm

    Dawnstorm Master Obfuscator

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    Which makes me wonder: where does that leave this thread?
     
  12. K_Spires

    K_Spires Wizard Errant

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    It leaves it in the same place it began: A place for those who have questions about particular items, not a broad strategem concerning grammar.
     
  13. hippokrene

    hippokrene Peckish

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    She now laid alone, her two cellmates having died earlier this week, curled into a ball and huddled under their blankets in an effort to make the terrible cold leave her flesh.

    How's the grammar? Specifically, can the main part of my sentence reference what's between the commas?
     
  14. Dawnstorm

    Dawnstorm Master Obfuscator

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    1. "laid" --> "lay"

    2. "their" is clear in the sentence. You can keep that.

    3. the "curled..."-clause is ambiguous. The cellmates could have died curled into a ball etc. (semantics favours "her", but the ambiguity is still there). You could move the "having..."-clause to the front:

    "Her two cellmates having died earlier this week, she now lay alone, curled into a bull and huddled under their blankets in an effort to make the terrible cold leave her flesh."

    You could also re-write, or leave it as it is (and risk a disruption in the reading flow; it may not be that great a risk.)
     
  15. Jaded Optimism

    Jaded Optimism New Member

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    The clause in the middle is a little unclear; I agree with Dawnstorm about moving it to the beginning, or even having two seperate sentences. "Her two cell mates died earlier in this week. She now lay alone, curled into a ball and huddled under their blankets etc...

    Other than that, you might want to change "earlier this week" to "earlier in the week" or something like that. "This" is generally a present-tense demons. pronoun or adjective and the rest of the sentence is past tense. That's not a necessity, however. Just my own opinion.
     
  16. silverdrake3

    silverdrake3 Alice Ursula

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    My rule of thumb is to reread my sentence with the eye of a reader. If something strikes me as odd about the sentence, I rewrite it. In fact, I reread my own work a lot... it helps you catch things you wouldn't otherwise

    Anyway, do you think my future editors would get peeved at my all-too-frequent use of trailing periods?

    I usually use it to indicate a desire to keep thinking/talking about the subject, but stopping anyway..
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2007
  17. lin

    lin Banned

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    Three periods is called and ellipsis and indicates trailing off of thought or speech as well as gaps. Very accepted, though like anything else, you can draw fire by over-using it.

    Two periods is a grammatical error.
     
  18. Rocket Sheep

    Rocket Sheep I AM too a mod! Staff Member

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    And editors hate ellipses.
     
  19. lin

    lin Banned

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    Figures.

    Editors being arbitrary and evil and all. Are lunar ellipses okay?
     
  20. Rocket Sheep

    Rocket Sheep I AM too a mod! Staff Member

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    Is that when three moons line up? :eek: