When it comes to the rule of “WHO v WHOM”, many websites place emphasis on knowing the difference between subjects and objects, or go on and on about clauses and prepositions. But here’s a simple trick that doesn’t include any of that stuff: Rephrase your sentence using HIM. If it still makes sense, use WHOM. … Continue reading WHO or WHOM? There’s an easy way to choose
The poetry of language once Began my love of words, But poetry is giving way To easiness in verbs. I dedicate these simple lines To those whose memories, like mine, Allow for lit in lieu of lighted, And shone instead of shined. For we who strove instead of strived, At least we've not been … Continue reading ELEGY: On the Irregular Verb
Last week I got an e-mail from a reader about punctuating dialogue. I was glad to get the question, because it's also a pet peeve of mine. Here's her question: I've been reading a lot lately, and I also do beta-reading for some of my writer friends. My problem: it seems like everyone has a … Continue reading DIALOGUE TAGS: A Punctuation Primer
Like “be” and “see”, there are a number of verbs in English grammar that don't follow the standard tense-changing rules. Most of the time we'll take a present-tense verb like “move”, add a “d” to create the past tense (moved) as well as the the part perfect tense (have moved). These, the vast majority of … Continue reading Those danged IRREGULAR VERBS!
Question: I was wondering about one thing. In my sentence, would it be “he’d had enough” or “he had enough”? He’d had enough. He could handle his sister's complaining, but... Answer: "He’d had enough" will work better for you. "He had enough" is usually quantifiable, eg: "He had enough breakfast cereal to last for a … Continue reading GRAMMAR: He had or He’d had?
Modifiers, as we've discussed, are the words we use to provide additional information about another word. Modifiers include adverbs, adjectives, and clauses. Today the focus is on modifying clauses and how they relate to our stories. The problem known as “misplaced modifiers” occurs when the clause or phrase is not connected to the word(s) it's … Continue reading LATER, LOOK BACK: Another Shortcut for Fixing Misplaced Modifiers
We've got a fairly complex question this time, with more than one example. A friend of mine, also a writer, is having some trouble with modifying clauses, also called modifying phrases. Modifiers, as you may know, are the words we use to provide additional information about another word. Modifiers include adverbs, adjectives, and clauses. Today the … Continue reading First, Look Ahead: A Shortcut for Fixing Misplaced Modifiers
Our question this week is not actually connected to a “work in progress”, but I decided to go ahead with it, as the answer might be surprising. A reader asks: What is the difference between regime and regimen? I hear people use “regime” to describe a program, like diet or exercise, all the time. However, … Continue reading DEFINITIONS: Traditional vs Modern
Our question this week is from a reader and writer who's concerned about the difference between "You'd better" and "You better". Question: I've read suspense novels by two different best-selling authors in the couple of weeks. While writing my own suspense novel, I've used the phrase "You'd better (do such and so)". But one of … Continue reading GRAMMAR: Is “You’d better” vs “You better”
Every writer and reader I know has a short (or long) list of pet peeves when it comes to language. My list, I’ll admit, is pretty long, but I’m feeling pretty focused today, so I’ll just talk about two. I see a lot of query letters and synopses on the sites I follow, and I’ve … Continue reading Grammar: Pet Peeves