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 Post subject: Beef's Guide to Grammar
PostPosted: Sun May 20, 2012 8:46 pm 
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Eater of Fresh Oranges
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I've been seeing quite a few stories recently that could do with grammar help, and not everybody knows the common rules. Over the next couple of weeks I will be posting grammar errors that bother me.

Hopefully people will read these and understand how they work, so that they can apply the principles of grammar to their stories.

Good grammar conveys more accurate meaning, reduces needless distraction and misunderstandings, and is a sign of a dedicated storyteller.

Grammar, to summarize, is good.

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 Post subject: Re: Beef's Guide to Grammar
PostPosted: Sun May 20, 2012 9:29 pm 
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(Feel free to delete this post and absorb it into your own, but I suggest you add a section on how to avoid wordy, pretentious, shithead writing. It seems to be a major problem that takes an awesome concept and turns it into a turd. Being concise is a really good thing in this genre.)

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 Post subject: Re: Beef's Guide to Grammar
PostPosted: Sun May 20, 2012 11:40 pm 
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The first thing I want to discuss is the difference between the words "its" and "it's."

"Its" ought to be used when describing ownership. This usage is the only acceptable usage of this word.
For example: "The enormous bear approached, its teeth bared in a menacing display of aggression. The bear and its fifteen friends were not happy with my poor grammar skills."

On the other hand, "it's" has two uses: one is to say (loosely) "it has," and the other (more common) use is to say "it is."
For example: "'It's no use! We can't outrun them!' I yelled to my companion. She shouted to me, pointing at the nearest bear, 'Look out! It's got a gun!'"

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 Post subject: Re: Beef's Guide to Grammar
PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 2:10 am 
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Hey Beef! I gots a question! What's the difference between "affect" and "effect".

Appropriate situations and whatnot.

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 Post subject: Re: Beef's Guide to Grammar
PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 12:20 pm 
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Alright, Roader. I'll do "affect" versus "effect."

The differences between "affect" and "effect" are rather subtle, but they are not hard to learn, and when used correctly can convey very precise meanings.

The most common use of "affect" is as a verb.
For example: "I was affected by the onion's odor. My poor usage skills affected the onion in a negative way."

In this usage, "affect" means to influence.
The verb "affect" can also mean to put on a fake appearance.
For example: "All the while, the onion affected an aura of nonchalance, though he really just felt angry."

In both cases, though, "affect" is a verb.

The most common use of "effect" is as a noun.
For example: "I tried to throw the glass onion on the floor, but it had no effect. The effect of the stench on my tear glands was devastating."

In this usage, "effect" basically means result.

However, there are exceptions to this "affect is a verb, effect is a noun" rule.

The two biggest ones are used in psychology and purple prose, and honestly most people would have to go looking for reasons to use the words in these ways:

"Affect" in terms of psychology can be used as a noun to describe the observed feelings or mood without saying that the observer is sure that was the emotion actually felt.
For example: "The onion displayed a happy affect when asked about the weather."

"Effect" as a verb means to bring about change, and like I said before, always comes out sounding a little purple.
For example: "This solitary glass onion hoped to effect the takeover of the entire state of North Zakota."
To clarify, that sentence means the onion wanted to bring about that takeover, not change it. If the onion just wanted to change the takeover, the example would be:
"This solitary glass onion hoped to affect the takeover of the entire state of North Zakota."

But as a general rule, "affect" is pretty much always the verb, and "effect" is pretty much always the noun.

Offtopic: I've been having some requests for different grammar topics. Ones I will address soon include Dialogue Conventions, They're Their There, and Parts of Speech. PM me if you want to see other specific things in this thread.

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 Post subject: Re: Beef's Guide to Grammar
PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 4:12 pm 
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SockPuppet asked me to do Who versus Whom. So here goes.

"Who" and "whom" mean the same question, just for different parts of a sentence; both words ask for the identification of some unknown person.

In casual conversation, use of the word "whom" is not very common-- and in fact it can make you sound quite pretentious. It also can make you sound completely ignorant if you use it improperly.

The big difference between "who" and "whom" has to do with a couple of important parts of speech that every sentence has, whether implied or implicit: the Subject and the Object.

"Who" goes with the subject, and "whom" goes with the object. But what does that mean, exactly?

Let's do an example:
"The ferocious sock puppet attacked the feeble hunter."

In this sentence, the subject is the thing doing the attacking. So the sock puppet is the subject.
The object is the thing being attacked, so the object of the sentence is the hunter.

So if we were to ask about the situation, we would use:
"Who attacked the hunter?"
and
"The sock puppet attacked whom?"

However, the sentence can be rephrased to use passive voice, and then "who" can be used to describe the hunter, but we'll talk about active and passive voice another time.

For now, just remember: Who did the attacking? They attacked whom?

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 Post subject: Re: Beef's Guide to Grammar
PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 12:31 am 
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Conjunctive Commas. This is the first of several of these that I will do about commas.

Commas are used for a bunch of different things, and are the most commonly misused punctuation mark.

So what are commas really used for?

The most common thing that I use commas for is linking clauses-- pretty much any time I use a word like and, but, or, so, although, however, because... you get the picture. This kind of comma is called a conjunctive comma.
For example: "I grinned at the cheshire cat, and it grinned back."
Both parts of this sentence are complete clauses, and could stand on their own as separate sentences, but I linked them with a conjunction, "and," and I used a conjunctive comma. This combines the two clauses into one sentence, helping me show the relatedness of the two ideas that I presented.
If I left out the "and," then the sentence would have an error referred to as a comma splice.

Without a conjunction, the conjunctive comma cannot hold the two clauses together. Sometimes, for voice purposes, a semicolon can be used rather than a conjunction-- especially when the second clause is directly related to the first.

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 Post subject: Re: Beef's Guide to Grammar
PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2012 5:00 pm 
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Quotation marks are today's subject.

In America, punctuation at the end almost always goes inside the quotation marks, whether or not they are actually part of the quote. I have heard it is different in the UK and certain parts of Zakota, but I am not sure on how.

For speech, quotations usually follow or end with a comma.
For example: "Please take a seat," said the fancy gentleman. His eyes twinkled and he continued, "I hope you enjoy opera."

The speech usually is the beginning or the end of the sentence, allowing for interesting ways of breaking up the spoken words to add a sense of flow.
For instance: "Please," he said, his eyes twinkling. "Take a seat. I hope you enjoy opera."

The two sentences contain the same dialogue, but the flow is different, which can change the perceived meaning and tone of what is said.

Another way to use quotation marks is to set apart direct quotes. This is not much different than speech, although there are some things, like marking changes or omissions with brackets or ellipses, that are important to ensure an accurate use of the source's words. Sometimes speech occurs within quotes. In these cases, usually single quotation marks are used within the double quotation marks.
For example: Beef wrote that he "couldn't stand opera. I [Beef] have tried to become more tolerant […] because a friend told me, 'Beef, you ought to stop hating on the opera.' So that's what I've been trying to do."

Another use of quotation marks is scare quotes. These are sometimes used to indicate irony, sarcasm, or other similar tones. For example:
The gang's "democracy" was anything but that: it was a game of who could bribe, threaten, and blackmail their way to power.

Another less-canonical use of quotation marks is one that I have used frequently in this thread, and is similar to the use of scare quotes, but without the intended tone. I often use quotation marks when referring to words in order to make it clear that I refer to the word itself, not to its meaning. This is not a standard usage, but it does make practical sense.

As always, if you have questions or suggestions, don't hesitate to click the PM button and let me know what's on your mind.

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Last edited by Beef Pop on Fri Jun 08, 2012 1:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Beef's Guide to Grammar
PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 4:10 pm 
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Apostrophes. You know, those things that belong in contractions? Yeah, those.

Use them correctly. Stop using them where they have no business being.

Contractions are the most common use of apostrophes. Can't, didn't, won't, he'll, it's (meaning it is), and shan't are all contractions. Two words are smooshed together, letters are removed, and the gap from the missing letter.

Possession by singular nouns can be indicated using an apostrophe: "Ches's beach balls", "BC's sheep", or "Vaughn's attitude" are all proper uses in this sense.

Possession can happen collectively, too: "The writers' essays," "the members' posts," or "the bears' den." All three of these phrases show collective ownership of the thing being owned.

One must not use apostrophes to show plurality. EVER. Except, of course, when referring to letters or numbers as symbols specifically: "I got one A, two B's, three C's," and so on. However, this is only acceptable in this one case, and at no other time should an apostrophe be used in this way.

The final use of apostrophes that I will discuss here is the use of apostrophes to indicate accent. Some authors will use misspellings and shortened, apostrophized words to give the reader a feel for how a character is supposed to talk. I am not the biggest fan of this, as it makes dialogue difficult to read and understand, but I will admit that it adds to the characterization of the character. Use this method with discretion, and do not let it spill out onto your other writing. DIALOGUE ONLY, OKAY?

Now you should know quite a bit about apostrophes. PM me if you have questions, advice, or topic ideas.

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 Post subject: Re: Beef's Guide to Grammar
PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 1:25 pm 
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They're, their, there.

Why do people have trouble with these three words? Well, they sure sound similar, especially in certain regions of the United States.

"They're" is a conjunction meaning "They are," and should be used accordingly:

"They're gaining on us!" The man shouted, his face pale with worry. "Can't you go any faster?"

"Their" is a group possessive pronoun. It helps refer to some group (or singular person, depending on the formality of the writing) and state whatever it is that the group has or owns:

After a brief study of the USA's politics, I have decided that their two-party system is stupid and dumb.

"There" refers to location, usually mentioned before or visually pointed out. It can also be used repetitively as a word of comfort, although that feels somewhat motherly, and quite sarcastic if the speaker is not one's mother. Here are the two usages that I know of, though I'm sure there are many more:

"Do you see that tree, over there where the ground grows rocky?" The old man pointed his crooked finger. "I planted it there on a whim. That was sixty years ago."


As her mother approached, Marisa began to sob. "There, there," her mother said, putting a gentle hand on her shoulder. "Everything will be alright. You're safe now."

As usual, any feedback, suggestions, or questions can be PM'd to me and I will answer them promptly.

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 Post subject: Re: Beef's Guide to Grammar
PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 6:25 pm 
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You should do "Who's / Whose" next.


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 Post subject: Re: Beef's Guide to Grammar
PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 9:08 pm 
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You should do "too/to" too. I've seen it a lot.

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 Post subject: Re: Beef's Guide to Grammar
PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2012 12:38 am 
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Now, too be fair, there aren't to many people who get those mixed up.

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 Post subject: Re: Beef's Guide to Grammar
PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2012 1:50 am 
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I hope that's true! Otherwise it would be to bad. Its like their not even trying.

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Though much to her surprise
He had two mouths for eyes
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 Post subject: Re: Beef's Guide to Grammar
PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2012 1:57 am 
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Who's versus whose.

"Who's" is a contraction meaning "who is" or "who has."
For example: Who's that guy? Who's got the remote?

"Whose," on the other hand, is a question of ownership:
Whose girlfriend did you say you were? Whose wallet is this?

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 Post subject: Re: Beef's Guide to Grammar
PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2012 5:05 am 
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BananaCorn wrote:
Now, too be fair, there aren't to many people who get those mixed up.

everyone remember that girl who told me id only ever be cute and never anything better and then she got fat?

she, to this day, confuses to/too. she's getting her Bachelor's soon.

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you thought you'd never shed a tear
so this must astound
it must confound you
buy a ticket for the train
hide in a suitcase if you have to
this ain't no singin in the rain
this is a twister that will destroy you


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 Post subject: Re: Beef's Guide to Grammar
PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2012 1:44 pm 
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Well she could of made worse mistakes then that!

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Flew in to say 'hello'
Though much to her surprise
He had two mouths for eyes
.


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 Post subject: Re: Beef's Guide to Grammar
PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2012 2:55 pm 
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...Yeah, like confusing of and have.

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 Post subject: Re: Beef's Guide to Grammar
PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2012 3:12 pm 
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that'sthejoke.jpg
Also sorry for the derailment. Please ignore my ********.

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Flew in to say 'hello'
Though much to her surprise
He had two mouths for eyes
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