A Grammar Magazine?

rogersgeorge on February 26th, 2017

The genius of Dan Piraro’s Bizarro strikes again. I hardly know what to say, except that I’ve written about every topic mentioned on the cover. Except the lips.

Bizarro - 02/19/2017

Lessee… Participles (sort of), Adjectives (several; here’s one), adverbs (also several), S-V agreement (at least twice), pronouns (also more than once).

Well, The Writing Rag site has been around since January of 2009 (!), and more than 400 posts (!!) whaddya expect?

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Post for a Lazy Day

rogersgeorge on December 15th, 2016

I’ve recommended not using adverbs a couple times, and “very” has earned my particular ire. So here’s a list of how not to use “very.” Confession: I got this list off Facebook and don’t know the source, except for the name Do you like English.

I challenge you to come up with more—whenever you write!

Adverbs Inside Infinitives

rogersgeorge on December 11th, 2016

I’ve written about this before, but hey, I have a comic!

Everybody knows about the TV show (or was it a movie?) that started with something about “to boldly go where…” and you probably had an English teacher (if you’re old enough) who said not to do that, you should say “boldly to go…” or maybe “to go boldly.” You might remember that I said that this rule was promulgated by Latinists who wanted English to be more like Latin. Baloney! Put those adverbs right there in the middle of the verb! (If you’re going to use an adverb, anyway. Try your sentence with a better verb and no adverb.)

So here’s the comic. See the second cell:

Thank you, Scott. I’ve been hanging onto this comic since 2014 and only now got around to finally using it. Shame on me.

By the way, at the top of that second cell, he writes, “have only noticed…” a similar construction.

Separable Verbs

rogersgeorge on November 3rd, 2016

You know the old rule about not ending a sentence with a preposition. The trouble is that those aren’t prepositions, they’re parts of separable verbs. Some call them adverbs. So you have complete permission to say, “Where did you come from?” “Come from” is the verb.

But sometimes that word is a preposition! Usually it introduces a word or phrase that functions as an adverb. So you can look under the table, or climb up (or down) a tree. But when you don’t have that word or phrase, something like my mother yelling “You come down this instant!” then it reverts to being part of the verb.

Sometimes it matters what preposition you put after a verb. In English you wouldn’t say “similar with” or “have like.” We say “Hope for,” not “hope after,” It’s “derived from,” not “derived at,” of course “arrived at” is okay but not “arrived from” unless you mean “arrived here from somewhere.” And we “call to” someone, not “call by” them. Folks from India tend to say “revert back” when they mean “reply back.” (And “reply” all by itself is sufficient.)

I had a conversation with a student from a few decades ago, and we both remembered the day I taught that you’re not supposed to say “Try and.” It’s “try to.” I remembered that conversation when I saw this comic, Pearls Before Swine. The guy in the last cell with his baseball cap on backwards is how Stephan Pastis draws himself.

Pearls Before Swine

I think this one is a battle we’re going to lose. It’s too easy to say “try and.” But maybe you can think of a few more bad verb-preposition combinations. I invite you to put them in the comments.

Another Mistake not Made

rogersgeorge on August 19th, 2016

A solecism that high school English teachers love to warn against is starting a sentence with “hopefully,” as in

Hopefully, we’ll all be in time for the meeting.

This is really just an instance of a fairly common problem, using an adverb when you need an adjective. You see it a lot in the news with “reportedly.” I googled that word recently and was chagrined to see how much it was misused. You can misuse many adverbs this way. Start some sentences with “understandably,” “supposedly,” “thankfully,” and “unexpectedly” for other examples.

Anyway, here’s someone who did it right! I put the correct usage in bold.

That possibility, one would hope, should weigh heavily upon the minds of the Supreme Court justices, who once praised those who “build and create by bringing to the tangible and palpable reality around us new works based on instinct, simple logic, ordinary inferences, extraordinary ideas, and sometimes even genius.”

Dignified sentences like this one are just as easy to read as ones that start with an understandably incorrect adverb.