1. aimi_aiko
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    aimi_aiko Contributing Member

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    Grammatical Issues

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by aimi_aiko, Jul 14, 2011.

    I have recently been brainstorming on a sudden idea that I have. I have created a blog (outside of WF) that will discuss (my own) writing techniques, common issues, ideas, etc. At this exact moment, I am jotting down things to cover in my blog and I came across the idea of writing about Grammatical Issues. I have only jotted down two of the issues that I could immediately think of, but I would like for some more. That's why I've turned to all of you!

    If you don't care, please provide a list of grammatical issues that either annoy you, are used quite frequently, etc. The two issues that I've already thought of are:

    -Verbal Slang vs. Correct Grammar - in speech
    -Usage of certain words that are easily confused.

    If you could add to this list, that would be wonderful!


    Thank you and happy writing!
     
  2. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Maybe a little bit different than from what most people think of as grammar, but here are some of my favorite rhetorical devices....


    1. Passive/active voice, and when to use each (passive if you want to create a detached tone or make the character seem cut apart from the character he/she's interacting with, or from his/her surroundingse; active anytime else)

    2. Asyndeton/Polysyndeton - Asyndeton refers to short, choppy sentences that create a hectic, frantic or desperate tone, while polysyndeton refers to sentences with more conjoined clauses, and it creates a meandering or relaxed tone.
    Also, having several poly sentences followed by an abrupt sentence puts emphasis on the latter.

    3. Parallel construction. This refers to a sequence of sentences that are either structured the same way, or start with the same word or phrase. Again, the first sentence that breaks this will have emphasis, so use parallel construction as a buildup.

    4. Cacophony/Euphony: This refers to how the words sound. The former refers to harsher sounds (cr, br, ck, sk, ch, etc) while the latter refers to softer sounds (sh, sl, sr, vowel-filled words, etc). The sounds of the word choices used will help achieve a given tone, either more intense or harsh or more relaxing, depending on what you're going for.

    I'll post more if I think of them, hope I helped.
    (I think the passive/active voice one counts as grammar)

    Here are some more straightforward syntax errors that really bug me:

    - your/you're mistakes
    - grocer's apostrophe (don't forget to feed the cat's!)
    - when people don't add a new paragraph for dialogue; likewise, when paragraphs aren't broken up well at all, so it's all one giant clump
    - excessive wordiness that just makes the writing hard to read
    - capitalization of words that don't need it
     
  3. Oldspeak
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    Oldspeak New Member

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    "I can care less" really, how much so? lol
     
  4. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    I've never gotten that one, either. ;)
     
  5. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ugh, I hate when people say that... it makes no sense!

    Anyway, Mallory made some really good suggestions. You should most definitely follow them (I actually hadn't thought of some of that stuff).
     
  6. aimi_aiko
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    aimi_aiko Contributing Member

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    Thanks Mallory! I copied your suggestions to a Word Document so I can look over them later and possibly add them to my blog. Very interesting and helpful suggestions, thank you.

    Oldspeak, I never really thought of that before. Now that I think about it, it is very interesting. I should start asking people "how much so?" when they tell me this. I wonder what they may say. :)
     
  7. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Really? So you DO care! Oh, thank you thank you thank you!
    Yeh. Drives me nuts (short trip). What they MEAN to be saying is that they "... couldn't care less." In which case they are saying they care so little there is no way they could care less.

    Another grammatical faux pas that sends me 'round the bend is when people misuse "I" in place of "me", as in, "He's coming with George and I."

    Huh? Whoops, there goes my blood pressure.
     
  8. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I've mentioned this before, but one that I absolutely hate is when people use "should of" instead of "should have".

    "You should of called your mother on her birthday." (Argh!)
    "You could of cleaned the cat's litter box while I was gone." (Argh, again!)

    Lots of people make this mistake. Why?
     
  9. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Guess it sounds that way when you say it out loud...but it's still annoying!
     
  10. Ged
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    Ged Senior Member

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    @all who want to read more about specific writing/rhetoric devices, go here. Most of them are just fancy Greek names for techniques we're familiar with.

    Anyway, as to my own issues... Er... People adding commas before restrictive clauses, just because German does it.
     
  11. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Random opinionating:

    I've always had a soft spot for "I could care less". I enjoy the symmetry of the person who doesn't care about the accuracy with which he expresses his lack of caring.

    To me, "Should of", when spoken or in dialogue, is part of a dialect, and therefore is essentially immune from judgements of correctness or incorrectness; it is the manner of speech of many people. (This does, yes, look inconsistent with my position on some other phrases. So be it.) But in narrative or nonfiction, unless the narrative or nonfiction is deliberately being written in a very individual voice, it's just plain wrong.

    ChickenFreak
     
  12. Sundae
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    Sundae Contributing Member

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    Plain confusion.

    Should've versus Should of - they're almost exactly alike.
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If you think such and such, you have another thing coming.

    It's not strictly a grammar thing, but the above is incorrect. The correct expression is:

    You have another think coming.

    The meaning is that you haven't thought it through, and you had better think some more.
     
  14. Cain
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    Cain Member

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    I think the use of thing is common enough now that it shouldn't be considered incorrect. After all when whoever wrote it back in the 20th century I'm pretty sure they weren't writing in stone.

    Many people would be surprised that think was the original in the first place, and it sounds completely wrong to them...
     
  15. JPGriffin
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    JPGriffin Senior Member

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    I agree. A language is always adjusting with different dialects it comes into contact with, and sadly the changes aren't always clear-cut and defined, so we see a sort of cultural split between those who couldn't care less (Had to correct myself on that :eek: ) and those who feel comfortable with the use of set-in-stone rules. Sadly, it's the former that tends to have more influence...

    As for my own pet peeves of grammar, it definitely would have to be either when people abuse capital letters (One of my friends has gotten into an extremely annoying habit of using an uppercase A when isolated), or the misuse of punctuation, especially when people think that using a list of punctuation at the end of a sentence is okay (example: "This legit just happened!!!", or "What!?!").
     
  16. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Should OF / Could OF arises from the spoken phrase - "Should've" / "Could've". The contracted form is, of course, spoken the same way as "should of" / "could of". It is only a lack of adequate education that gives us the incorrect usage. In many cases, the error will eventually become part of the accepted vernacular. I shudder to think this one might since, in the entire context of the phrase, it simply does not make sense.
     
  17. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm well aware of this, of course. My (rhetorical) question was intended to get to the point you just made - it doesn't make sense. I'm always trying to understand WHY sentences are constructed the way they are, and verb tenses, and all the rest of it. Ultimately, language has to make sense. If I accepted "should of" and "could of", then language wouldn't make sense, and I'd feel very lost. It's not just a matter of what has become modern usage; it's a matter of what makes sense!
     
  18. Declan
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    Declan Senior Member

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    But if people can understand it, then you could argue that it makes perfect sense? The English language is full of things that "don't make sense", such as irregular verbs and irregular plurals, that's just the way the language is. I don't see why "could of" should be seen any different, even if the grammar strays from being "correct", from any of the other quirks.
     
  19. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    That one shows ignorance of the person using it.

    The real saying is
    "I couldn't care less."
     
  20. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Or when you want to foreground the action, rather than the actor;
    Phenomenon/phenomena, criterion/criteria and so on (I heard somebody on TV last night say "It is a worldwide phenomena" -- unforgivable in a scripted documentary!
     
  21. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I suspect that's simply verbal irony, not a mistake.
     
  22. Cain
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    Cain Member

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    It bugs me when telephone sales people use 'yourself' instead of 'you'. For instance, I'll have that sent to yourself immediately.

    I'm not totally sure it's wrong (I'm no grammar guru), but why can't they say 'you'? My brother does it too, but only on business conversations. I suspect it's because they're trying to speak in an official manner, but it makes me cringe every time I hear it (I've not seen it written though, so maybe not much use for your blog).
     
  23. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Saw a couple of gems at work today:

    printed on a poster:

    "Something for all familie's to enjoy"

    and

    On a cupboard - something like:

    "If when taking out stationery out of the cupboard you notice that the boxes are empty please contact xxxx immediately on extension xxx to reorder them"

    I had to read that a couple of times because it was so long-winded. Or is it just me?
     
  24. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    But language is about more than just being understood (ideational meaning). It's also about the impression you convey (phatic meaning). Yes, "could of" might eventually become an idiom and so be "correct", but until it does you are communicating that either you don't understand what you're saying or you don't care enough about the reader to bother getting it right. Whether that's what you actually want to communicate is up to you.
     
  25. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would have thought that it was the intended contents of the boxes that should be reordered, not the boxes themselves. And should you only ask for a reorder if you notice the empty boxes whilst taking something out, not if you notice at any other time?

    A long-winded sentence is often a clue that the writer hasn't properly worked out what they want to say.
     

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