Author Topic: Grammar Nightmares  (Read 7966 times)

Emerson

  • Tarsel tunnel syndrome
  • Posts: 309
Re: Grammar Nightmares
« Reply #15 on: January 26, 2007, 02:13:22 PM »
You'll find a lot of superfluous nonrestrictive clauses in mid-century New Yorker pieces. If it's done too much, it creates what Tom Wolfe called a "whichy thicket."

This should really be a porn thread by now.

~EmD
"You said it. I didn't."

Stan

  • Achilles Tendon Bursitis
  • Posts: 986
Re: Grammar Nightmares
« Reply #16 on: January 26, 2007, 02:37:58 PM »
Okay, let's see if I can explain this.  A restrictive clause is essential to the meaning of the sentence and is neither preceded nor followed by a comma; a nonrestrictive clause can be omitted from a sentence without fundamentally changing the meaning of the sentence and is both preceded and followed by a comma (unless of course it ends the sentence).  Sticklers such as myself never use "which" restrictively.  Consider the different flavors of the following:  (1) "The Best Show podcast, which bookem_dan-o prepares, celebrated its first anniversary last week." (2) "The Best Show podcast that bookem_dan-o prepares is vastly superior to the one I put together, which does not exist."  The thing to remember is that if a clause can be dropped without losing the information the sentence is meant to communicate, it is nonrestrictive, surrounded by commas, and introduced by "which."  If the clause is vital to the meaning of the sentence, use "that" and no commas. 

When you're the writer, you know what's restrictive and what isn't.  When you're editing someone else's work, things can get tricky.  For example, in "The Best Show podcast, which bookem_dan-o prepares, celebrated its first anniversary last week," the main message is that the podcast is a year old, and the fact that bookem_dan-o is responsible for it is secondary.  If the sentence read instead, "The Best Show podcast that bookem_dan-o prepares celebrated its first anniversary last week," it would mean that another Best Show podcast, one not prepared by bookem_dan-o did not celebrate its first anniversary.  If I came across ""The Best Show podcast which bookem_dan-o prepares celebrated its first anniversary last week," I would not be sure whether the second meaning was intended or the writer had simply omitted the all-important commas.

To complicate matters further, "which" may be used restrictively (this is more common in England).  Thus, when you use "which" instead of "that," emily, you're not really making a mistake; you're just not following a usage that many people prefer.  If I can tell that a writer is using "which" deliberately, as a matter of style, I will leave it or at least ask before changing it.  In straightforward writing, however, I will always insist on the "that"/"which" distinction, because doing so makes for less ambiguity.

More than you bargained for?



 It's official. This is the greatest forum on the interweb.
                                 "This must be where buffcoat left his pants."

Josh

  • Space Champion!
  • Posts: 1386
Re: Grammar Nightmares
« Reply #17 on: January 26, 2007, 03:16:02 PM »
This should really be a porn thread by now.
It is, in a way.
"Alright, well, for the sake of this conversation, let's say the book does not exist."

Sarah

  • Guest
Re: Grammar Nightmares
« Reply #18 on: January 26, 2007, 04:00:54 PM »
This should really be a porn thread by now.
It is, in a way.

Damn it, you beat me to it!

Emily

  • Space Champion!
  • Posts: 1196
Re: Grammar Nightmares
« Reply #19 on: January 26, 2007, 09:37:02 PM »
Thanks Sarah.

It took me a few reads, but I finally get it.

You have an impressive skill.

Sarah

  • Guest
Re: Grammar Nightmares
« Reply #20 on: January 27, 2007, 11:43:23 AM »
Small correction:  I omitted a comma, now inserted in bold and red below.

"If the sentence read instead, 'The Best Show podcast that bookem_dan-o prepares celebrated its first anniversary last week,' it would mean that another Best Show podcast, one not prepared by bookem_dan-o, did not celebrate its first anniversary."

Emily, not so much--just years and years of practice.

Stan, you are either a very strange man or a very snide one.  Or both, I suppose.

Josh

  • Space Champion!
  • Posts: 1386
Re: Grammar Nightmares
« Reply #21 on: February 11, 2007, 02:33:54 PM »
Sarah,

Would you please review capitalization rules for (book, song, etc.) titles? Specifically, are the words "from" and "with" capitalized in titles?


Bloke on Bloke: More From the William Bloke Sessions
or
Bloke on Bloke: More from the William Bloke Sessions


Brewing Up With Billy Bragg
or
Brewing Up with Billy Bragg
"Alright, well, for the sake of this conversation, let's say the book does not exist."

Sarah

  • Guest
Re: Grammar Nightmares
« Reply #22 on: February 11, 2007, 03:11:03 PM »
Billy Bragg!  Funny you should use him in your examples.  Near the end of a movie I watched last night (the somewhat entertaining Children of the Revolution), "Tender Comrade" turned up.  Not one of my BB faves, but I'm always glad to hear him regardless.

On capping:  Capitalize nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and conjunctions other than "and," "but, "for," "or," and "nor."  Lowercase articles, definite and indefinite, and prepositions except when they are stressed or, if you're working for Columbia, if they're two or more syllables long. Also lowercase "to" and "as" even when they're not acting as prepositions.

Thus Bloke on Bloke: More from the William Bloke Sessions and Brewing Up with Billy Bragg are correct.

Ta-da!

Josh

  • Space Champion!
  • Posts: 1386
Re: Grammar Nightmares
« Reply #23 on: February 11, 2007, 05:57:22 PM »
Is there an exception for short titles? I seem to remember that all words are capitalized if the title is only three words long. Thus, "Dancing With Myself" but "Living without Your Love". Correct?
"Alright, well, for the sake of this conversation, let's say the book does not exist."

Sarah

  • Guest
Re: Grammar Nightmares
« Reply #24 on: February 12, 2007, 08:19:09 AM »
Yes, there can be, depending on who's doing the capping.  Sometimes a title just looks funny if something that is normally lowercased appears that way.  And aesthetics also explain why Columbia caps two-syllable and longer prepositions.

Emily

  • Space Champion!
  • Posts: 1196
Re: Grammar Nightmares
« Reply #25 on: February 21, 2007, 11:30:31 PM »
Greetings Sarah!

I have a grammar question for you, if you don't mind.

Is it grammatically incorrect (or frowned upon) to end a sentence with "is", "in", or "to"?
For example, "That's where he said it is." or "Better to spend the time looking for something you'd be more interested in."
If it is incorrect, is there a name for this type of error?

Thanks a ton!
from,
emily

Laurie

  • Guest
Re: Grammar Nightmares
« Reply #26 on: February 22, 2007, 12:11:48 AM »
Is there a smoke-filled room where a secret cabal of grammarians devise new rules and throw old ones out the window? There is, isn't there? I know I've eschewed the whole ending-a-sentence-with-a-preposition ban for some years, and it looks like I've been vindicated by this secret cabal of grammarians. Still, that doesn't stop text book manufacturers from including this absurd and arcane rule in English grammar lessons.

As for "is," I'm not sure. I'll let Sarah get back to you on that one.

Sarah

  • Guest
Re: Grammar Nightmares
« Reply #27 on: February 22, 2007, 09:54:10 AM »
It's perfectly okay to end a sentence with "is."  The rule against dangling prepositions still exists, however, and purists enforce it religiously.  It has relaxed a lot in recent years, though, and nowadays my choices are guided by the tone of whatever book I'm working on (or, as I should say, "on which I'm working").  If the style is very formal, no prepositions are allowed to dangle; more often, though, some will dangle and some won't, depending on the flow of the writing at that point in the text.

Bonus (unrequested) response:  Though recently more and more people split infinitives, this is one rule I hardly ever transgress.  Usually, if push comes to shove, I will rewrite rather than allow an infinitive to be split. 

Emily

  • Space Champion!
  • Posts: 1196
Re: Grammar Nightmares
« Reply #28 on: February 24, 2007, 01:24:26 PM »
ok, cool. good to know. thanks laurie & sarah!

Dan B

  • Achilles Tendon Bursitis
  • Posts: 642
Re: Grammar Nightmares
« Reply #29 on: February 24, 2007, 04:27:47 PM »
I wrote a short satiric speech for school about how the butchering of the English language is good.  I even quoted Marky Ramone's use of the many negatives.