Sunday, November 7, 2010

Quick Grammar Review

I had a lovely mini crash course on grammar on Twitter a while back and, as I certainly think it's important, thought I'd post the transcript up for future perusal!

(print this and tape it to your computer!)

Lie/lay/lain=to recline
Lay/laid/laid=to put down
Who=a person, that=a thing
whom=him, her
It’s=it is, its=possessive
You’re=you are, your=possessive
Lose=not win, loose=not tight
(person) and I=we, (person) and me=us
Affect=verb, effect=noun

Ah hem. So, today's mission: sort through some of the trickiest little grammar mistakes even pros make. Hashtag will be: #crashgram. And no, I'm not an expert, though I have been known to do a few of these on occasion:
So let’s begin!

• When a character speaks: "Hey, how are you?" <-- quotes surround all

• When narrator butts in: "Hey, how are you?" she said. <-- quotes only around spoken words

• Examples of the 's: Charles Dickens's, The Club's, the boys' <- When it's a singular person, even if it ends in an s, add an 's. If it’s plural, just add an ‘

• lie/lay/lain = to recline. lay/laid/laid=to put down. (present/past/past participle)

• who=he/she, whom=him/her. Replace the "who" with the pronoun to figure out which one to use i.e.: Who do you think did it? --> He did it.

• its = possesive, it's = it is

• your = possesive. you're = you are. .There = place, they're = they are

• When writing in the past, use the past participle to denote something that has already happened. i.e.: I went to the mall and then realized I'd already been yesterday. -->past participle = has had, had had, etc

• Nick and I = we, Nick and me = us --> try using we or us in the sentence to figure out which to use i.e.: We're going to the store (Nick and I); it was closed so we left (Nick and I), Steph went to the store with us (me and Nick)

• Correct way to use a dash: he went to the store -- not the one on sixth -- and I went with him. (word space dash dash space word)

• semicolon: it's a continuation, not a side thought (like the dash), and must be followed by a complete sentence.

• Commas: Way too many rules to tweet, so:

• Capitalize Uncle/Mom etc when you use it in place of a name, but NOT if in the possessive, as in my uncle said, my mom said, Uncle Bob said, Mom said OR I saw Oxford Top at the store today, ew. <-- this is correct, if Oxford Top doesn't have a name

• There is no space between a word and any punctuation, so: the end! and not the end !

• ... (three)= you can continue the sentence ; .... (four)= you finished the sentence & will start a new one (put space after it)

• When using a dialogue tag, use a comma, not a period, at the end of the quote: "I love you," she said. <--don't cap. the "she"

• When breaking your character's speech into several paragraphs: "Quote. (new para) "Quote."
--> no " on end until IT ends

• Don't cap a continuing quote: "Hey there," he said, "want to go to the mall?" Cap new: "Hi," he said. "Want to go to the mall?"

• With commas, a lot of the time, it comes down to style. There are certain places that require it grammatically, but a lot are optional

  • for ex: with commas, a lot of the time it comes down to style. ;) 

• affect=verb (replace with the word "influence" to check), effect=noun (replace with the word "result" to check) - MOST of the time. Here are some weird times this isn't true.

And last but not least: epically cool grammar site:

Happy writing!!
Natalie M. Fischer


  1. Very helpful! Gotta refresh my grammar memory, so I'll be putting these into practice....

  2. Natalie I LOVE you for including that "Dickens's" example! I find myself getting into disagreements with beta readers about this. Now I have a place to direct them to read the rule for themselves! ;)

  3. Super helpful. Unfortunately I always struggled wit grammar and remembering all the rules. Maybe the logical part of my brain just isn't wired correctly, LOL.

    Thanks again! I will be printing this off :)

  4. Wow when I was in school we were told it "Dickens'" was correct. Wonder when that changed?

    Also completely unrelated to this post, but thought you might like this book:

    A True Princess by Diane Zahler.

    Don't know how long the sample will be up - love the chapter titles!

    :) <-- not Diane Zahler, I promise!

  5. . . .and by "we were told it" of course I meant "we were told that". So sad to make a grammatical error on a post about grammar.

    :') <-- crying (if that's the grammatically correct smiley for a tear. I can't remember for sure. :) <-- using smiley to close parenthesis. I do this all the time, but is it correct?

    Must. Stop. Second-guessing.