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Friday, November 18, 2016

Dear “I Hate Grammar!” Writer

Dear “I Hate Grammar!” Writer,

Many writers hate grammar. I used to be one of them. But to write well you have to understand grammar to some extent. In this post, I am providing quick rules, examples, and tips to help you understand some areas of grammar.

Image from Pixabay

1. You and I or You and me?

The quickest way to figure this out is to cut out “You and” from the sentence. Does “I” sound better or does “me?” Whichever one makes more sense is the correct pronoun.

Ex: Where would you like Mary and me to stand?

Sounds good. "Me” is correct.

Now let's look at it this way:

Ex: Where would you like Mary and I to stand?

Sounds bad. “I” is incorrect.

TIP: The POV we are in is always mentioned last. Ex: Mom and I went to the mall.

2. Italic letters or quotations for the names of songs/books/movies/TV shows?

The names of songs and other short works part of a bigger work (chapter titles, names of TV show episodes) are always in quotation marks.

EX: I listened to “Baby One More Time” on repeat.

The names of whole works such as books, movies, and TV shows are italic.

EX: I watched Gone with the Wind last night.

3. Who or whom?

Who – he/she/they

Whom – him/her/them

Ex: The woman who hit my car.

She hit me car. (Who is correct.)

Ex: To whom do I address this letter?

Do I address this letter to him/her/them? (Whom is correct.)

4. When to capitalize titles with names.

Always capitalize titles when they appear with a name.

Ex: President Obama, Queen Elizabeth, Dr. Cristina Yang, Chef Ramsey.

Capitalize titles used as a substitute for a name. When it’s like this, it’s like a nickname.

Ex: I looked at the Chief and knew the criminal got away.
("Chief" is referring to one person and is in place of a name.)

Lowercase the title when the term is used in a general way, not for a specific person.

Ex: The duties of a president are daunting. 

7 Fast Tips:

-       Seasons (summer, autumn, winter, spring) are lowercase.

-       Directions (north, east, south, west) are also lowercase.

-       Use em dashes at the end of dialogue when there’s an abrupt stop, such as when one character cuts off another character’s speech.

-       Use single quotation marks inside double quotations when a character is quoting someone.

-       No question mark for an indirect question.

-       There’s no such word as “alright.” Correct: All right

-       “Already” means it happened in the past. “All ready” means prepared. 

Author of Hurricane Crimes, Seismic Crimes, 30 Seconds Before, and 30 Seconds. Blogger. Reader. Auntie. Vegetarian. Cat Lover.


Liz A. said...

For I and me, I just remember that me is used as the object while I is the subject. For some reason, that stuck.

Huntress said...

So many reasons why English is about the hardest language to learn.

diedre Knight said...

I love grammar! I find myself silently correctly people and always seem to catch every time the use of 'an' instead of 'a' would be more appropriate ;-) My family thinks I'm annoying. I trip up on the use or over-use of commas and semi-colons, but I bet you've already noticed that;-) Thanks for the capitalization reminders!

Chrys Fey said...

@Liz, that's a good way to look at it.

@Huntress, Exactly! haha

@Diedre, I'm thrilled you love grammar, too. :)

Janny Bell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Janny Bell said...

Actually, I didn't know the names of whole works such as books, movies, and TV shows are italic. You live, you learn.
Janny from Punctuation Fixer.