1. Axler
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    Axler New Member

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    A little grammar help?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Axler, Aug 17, 2008.

    Firstly apologies if this is the wrong place to post this. If it is incorrect please delete, and I'll be on my way.

    I've been trying to improve my knowledge and use of grammar. So I was hoping that one of you experts could take a look a these paragraphs and perhaps tell me where I've gone right or wrong. I broken the text up below to explain my placement of the punctuation. My problem seems to be I'm long on theory, but short on experience, so I tend to second guess myself constantly.


    There is no greater shame, especially for a rich man, than to become a poor man. I am lord Daniel Coyle, I have in the past: played Polo with heirs to the throne, rubbed shoulders with the highest class of people, and entertained dignitaries and diplomats. Yet I find myself on the cusp of losing all I have, and the respect of my peers with it.

    Through my own mistakes and hubris, I have slowly squandered almost every penny my dear departed father left me. The cost of keeping my wife Julia and I in the manner that we expect, has been a steady drain on our finances: the summers in the south of France, the winters skiing in Klosters and our membership to the club. The biggest losses have come from my own mistakes though. I was cheated out of millions by a underhanded and deceitful business partner, but my worst loss by far was the divorce settlement to my first wife Laura. It was worth every penny though to be rid of the stain her low born ancestry placed upon my character. Her grandfather was once a manservant for gods sake! Fortunately I managed to sever all ties with her, before the truth came out.


    Taking the text sentence by sentence.

    "There is no greater shame, especially for a rich man, than to become a poor man."

    The commas here surround the non essential phrase within the sentence.

    "I am lord Daniel Coyle, I have in the past: played Polo with heirs to the throne, rubbed shoulders with the highest class of people, and entertained dignitaries and diplomats."

    The first comma denotes the end of the introductory clause.
    The second and third seperate the list began by the colon.

    Is there any reason to re-write "I have in the past" as "In the past I have" ?

    "Yet I find myself on the cusp of losing all I have, and the respect of my peers with it."

    This sentence I am especially unsure of. As it stands it is, I think, a compound sentence with the comma before the coordinating conjunction. If I was to remove the "and" would it not become a sentence with a non essential clause on the end? Which would be correct?

    "Through my own mistakes and hubris, I have slowly squandered almost every penny my dear departed father left me."

    The comma here seperates the the intoductory clause from the independant clause.

    "The cost of keeping my wife Julia and I in the manner that we expect, has been a steady drain on our finances: the summers in the south of France, the winters skiing in Klosters and our membership to the club."


    I'm sure this sentence is incorrect but I can't put my finger on exactly why.

    "The biggest losses have come from my own mistakes though."

    I had thought this was a simple sentence, but "though" is a dependant clause marker and should not end the sentence, therefore I should join the following sentence with it thus.

    "The biggest losses have come from my own mistakes though I was cheated out of millions by a underhanded and deceitful business partner, but my worst loss by far was the divorce settlement to my first wife Laura."

    "It was worth every penny though to be rid of the stain her low born ancestry placed upon my character."


    Again I've used "though" this time I believe correctly.

    "Her grandfather was once a manservant for gods sake!"

    Simple statement.

    "Fortunately I managed to sever all ties with her, before the truth came out."

    Again this is wrong as "before" is a dependant clause marker, so the correct verions should be...

    "Fortunately I managed to sever all ties with her before the truth came out."

    Thanks for reading.

    Axler.
     
  2. Manny
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    Manny Member

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    I don't think the colon is necessary. Also "Lord" should be capitalised and "polo" should not.

    I am Lord Daniel Coyle. In the past, I have played polo with heirs to the throne.....

    Yet, I find myself on the brink of losing all that I have, together with the respect of my peers.

    I haven't gone through it all, those are just what jumped out at me. Far too many colons in my opinion throughout.

    I will add I am not an expert, and others may disagree. Just my thoughts.
     
  3. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    You know, other than some minor grammatical mistakes, I think your real issue is your style.
     
  4. Axler
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    Axler New Member

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    Firstly thanks both of you for your thoughts, I've rewritten the text with your comments in mind. I've also tried to add what I think the reasoning is behind the changes you suggested just to make sure I understand.

    There is no greater shame, especially for a rich man, than to become a poor man. I am Lord Daniel Coyle, and in the past I have played polo with heirs to the throne, rubbed shoulders with the highest class of people, and entertained dignitaries and diplomats. Yet I find myself on the cusp of losing all I have and the respect of my peers with it.

    Through my own mistakes and hubris, I have slowly squandered almost every penny my dear departed father left me. The lifestyle Julia and I are accustomed to comes with a number of costs: the summers in the south of France, the winters skiing in Klosters and our membership to the club. All of these necessities have placed a drain on our finances. The biggest losses, however, have come from my own mistakes. I was cheated out of millions by a underhanded and deceitful business partner, but my worst loss by far was the divorce settlement to my first wife Laura. It was worth every penny though to be rid of the stain her low born ancestry placed upon my character. Her grandfather was once a manservant for gods sake! Fortunately, I managed to sever all ties with her, before the truth came out.


    Again breaking out some of the sentences I have altered.

    “I am Lord Daniel Coyle, and in the past I have played polo with heirs to the throne, rubbed shoulders with the highest class of people, and entertained dignitaries and diplomats.”

    I can see why I needed the “and” after Coyle (both sections of text before and after the “Coyle,” are sentences in their own right and so I need an “and" with the comma correct?). What I don't understand is why you suggested I should put a comma after “I have”. I always thought that the first comma came after the first item in the list, or is this a special case?

    “Yet I find myself on the cusp of losing all I have and the respect of my peers with it.”


    The comma was removed here as “the respect of my peers with it” isn't a valid sentence in it's own right so using “, and” would be incorrect.

    “The lifestyle Julia and I are accustomed to comes with a number of costs: the summers in the south of France, the winters skiing in Klosters and our membership to the club. All of these necessities have placed a drain on our finances.”


    I re-wrote this section with your comments in mind, I hope it's more readable now.

    “The biggest losses, however, have come from my own mistakes. I was cheated out of millions by a underhanded and deceitful business partner, but my worst loss by far was the divorce settlement to my first wife Laura.”


    This should be correct now, I've avoided using “though” and switched to “however as you suggested. Am I right in leaving the second sentence as it was?

    “Fortunately, I managed to sever all ties with her, before the truth came out.”

    I don't understand why there should be a comma after “Fortunately”. I thought that would then signify that “ I managed to sever all ties with her” was a non essential phrase within the sentence, but without it the sentence “Fortunately before the truth came out.” doesn't make sense, or is it being used here to set off the introductory element of the sentence?

    You mentioned that my problems may be due to my style. In this section of the text I'm trying to portray David as a pompous, overbearing fool perhaps that could be the problem? With this in mind I wrote these paragraphs in what I think of as my normal style.

    The rain is really coming down now. I can feel the vibrations from it striking the bus stops roof. I'm impatiently awaiting the arrival of the bus home when I see the little old lady. She is down the hill from me, struggling towards the bus stop, weighed down by her shopping bags. Her head is bowed against rain drops being blown into her face, as she slowly inches her way closer to relative dryness of the shelter. Should I go and offer to help her? The only other occupant of the bus stop, a girl of about sixteen, obviously thinks I should. Her disgusted gaze tells me what she thinks of men who don't help old ladies with their shopping. I push my hand outside trying to decide which would be more uncomfortable, stepping out into the rain or staying in the shelter with the girl. Deciding that I need some more motivation she adds a few disapproving mutters to the eye bullets she is sending my way.

    Decision made I pull my collar tight around my neck and step out into the downpour. The first icy trickles begin to make their way past my collar down the back of my neck, so I break into something between a brisk walk and a jog to try and get to the lady as quickly as I can. A few seconds later I'm in front of the her. She looks up sharply obviously not having seen me coming.
    'Excuse me...' I begin, my hands reaching out for her bags.
    'Thief!' She screams, dropping all of the bags except a heavy looking leather handbag. Screaming incoherently she swings it at my head. The reinforced corner catches me on the temple, stunning me, as I close my eyes against the pain I miss the follow up swing to my groin. I collapse in agony hands pressed between my legs, as the lady calmly picks up her bags up, and with a sharp toed kick at my kidneys for a parting gift, continues up the hill. Stunned I lie on the pavement barely noticing the rain now. I try to ignore the agony in my groin and get up. Finally, I manage to get to my feet just in time to see the old lady and girl clambering onto my bus. The girl is smirking and giving me the finger out of the back window as the bus pulls away.

     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    still has problems... here's how i'd edit this for a client or mentee:

    hope this helps... love and hugs, maia
     
  6. Manny
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    Manny Member

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    What Mammamaia wrote reads perfectly Axler.
     
  7. Axler
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    Axler New Member

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    Ouch Mammamaia, I didn't think I had that many errors left in the text. Would you mind explaining why your reasons for the edits you made? Also which were made to correct a error in grammar, and which changed to improve the style? It would help me stop repeating the same mistakes over and over.

    I am concerned though, as the text has been edited and cleaned that the character is sounding less and less pompous. It could be that I've just read the same passage too many times and aren't picking up on the tone as well as I could be. What do you think?

    Thanks for taking the time to help me out.

    Axler
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if you want him to sound pompous, that's ok with me... none of the corrections i suggested were made to de-pomp him and i don't see that any did... give me an example, so i can see what you're getting at... and in answer to your request:

    i hope that satisifies your need to know why... hugs, m
     
  9. Axler
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    Axler New Member

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    Thanks MammaMaia

    If I know what was wrong with the original I can hopefully avoid making similar mistake in the future.

    The only part I'm unsure of is.

    "It was worth every penny though, to cleanse myself of the stain her low-born ancestry would have placed upon my social standing."

    I meant that the stain was there whilst they were married and then removed, so wouldn't the phrase be better as...

    "It was worth every penny though, to cleanse myself of the stain her low-born ancestry had placed upon my social standing."

    Or have I messed up a tense earlier in the sentence? I'm pretty sure cleanse is in the right tense.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    but as i noted above, you said that no one had learned of her low-born state, as he 'severed ties' in time... therefore, there never was any stain on his social standing... so even 'cleanse' is the wrong word, though i didn't address that in my correction... that whole sentence needs to be reworked, to make sense with the one following it... 'to protect myself' or 'to avoid' would make sense, but you can't cleanse what isn't there yet...
     
  11. Axler
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    Axler New Member

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    Ahh I think we are talking at cross purposes.

    I meant that whilst he was married to her there was a stain on his character as far as he was concerned. Even though no one else knew about it at the time. Then when he divorced her he removed it, and at the same time prevented anyone else finding out about it.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    what i think you're missing is that there would be no 'stain' if no one knew about it, as it's only in the minds of others that one's character suffers from association with 'questionable' types... he might have worried about it, but it wouldn't truly be a 'stain' till it was known to someone other than himself...
     

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