Tag Archives: grammar

Authors Answer 133 – The Passive Voice

Active voice isn’t better than passive in all situations.

I Read Encyclopedias for Fun

The passive voice is something authors are often told not to use. But what exactly is the passive voice? Here’s a simple example.

Passive voice: The door was opened by John.

Active voice: John opened the door.

When you look at the two sentences, the active voice seems more dynamic. There’s actual movement. The passive voice is talking more about the door rather than John. In active, someone does something. For passive, something is done to something by someone or something. But is it something we should avoid using? Obviously, it shouldn’t be used when action is the focus of a scene. This week, we talk about the passive voice.

Question 133 – Do you find it difficult not to use passive voice? What advice would you give to writers who have this difficulty?

Elizabeth Rhodes

I do slip into it sometimes for reasons I can’t explain. I suppose for…

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Authors Answer 132 – The Oxford Comma

Please don’t make Stalin a stripper.

I Read Encyclopedias for Fun

What is the Oxford comma? I found this definition:

a comma used after the penultimate item in a list of three or more items, before ‘and’ or ‘or’ (e.g. an Italian painter, sculptor, and architect ).

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But why is it such a controversial topic? Is it important to use the Oxford comma? Is it even needed? In many cases, it’s absolutely required to avoid confusion. It’s not always needed in every list, but should we be using it? We talk about that this week.

Question 132 – Do you use the Oxford comma? Why or why not? Give your own example where you would need to use the Oxford comma.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

I do use the Oxford comma, and I personally think everyone should. For one thing, we really should have a set rule so that it stops being such a constant debate. For another…

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Authors Answer 131 – Grammatically Difficult

Then there’s the fact that nouns which refer to multiple individuals as a single unit are mostly singular in American English, mostly plural in British English, and not entirely consistent in either.

I Read Encyclopedias for Fun

English is not an easy language. It’s said to be one of the more difficult languages because of inconsistent spelling/pronunciation rules, irregular verbs, articles, and so on. But do authors find English grammar difficult? Let’s find out!

Question 131 – Which rule(s) of English grammar do you find most difficult?

H. Anthe Davis

I had a rather substandard English grammar education — I never diagrammed sentences and I didn’t know what a gerund was until I learned about it in Spanish class.  I think it was because I went to a weird little private middle school…  But anyway, since I never got rigid training in English grammar, I really just do whatever I want, and damn the rules.  Sure, I tried reading Strunk & White and other such writing advisories back when I was still honing my craft and uncertain of my voice, but adhering to strictures just got in…

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Authors Answer 126 – Is It Really Possible to Stop Using Adverbs?

Actually, the most overused adverb may well be “never”.

I Read Encyclopedias for Fun

Adverbs are something that people love to use in everyday speech. It’s very popular. But what about in writing? Do we really need to avoid using adverbs? Honestly?

Question 126 – Never use adverbs. Do you agree or disagree, and why?

Tracey Lynn Tobin

Disagree. I will concur that many writers these days rely far too heavily on adverbs, leaning on them instead of putting the effort into creating more descriptive prose. That said, every form of word has it’s place, and you can’t just discount adverbs all together. “Show, don’t tell,” is what’s often said, and I agree with that for the most part, but sometimes what is necessary for a scene is for the author to tell the reader exactly what’s happening. For example, if the narrating character has been struck blind for some reason, they’re not going to be able to describe the facial expressions or body…

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Authors Answer 24 – Brushing up on Grammar

I’m a little late to this one.

I Read Encyclopedias for Fun

Authors are expected to be good at language.  Good grammar, good word choice, and good spelling are all very important in a published novel.  But do authors study grammar?  This week’s question was asked by Authors Answer contributor Linda G. Hill.

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 24: How important is it to you to continue learning and brushing up on basic skills such as grammar? For instance, would you pay to take a course?

S. R. Carrillo

Wow, I’m gonna sound so fulla myself, but I consider myself very well-versed in grammatical conventions. I would not pay for a course. I do, however, ensure I always stay on top of my grammar. It’s always come second nature to me – I used to do editing for years and I’m a pretty vigorous self-editor as well. Grammar is where I excel.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

This question makes me feel a little bad about myself, to…

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