Ten Grammar Essentials

Posted: July 30, 2012 in Unrelated to incarceration
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Ten Grammar essentials

1. alright is not a word. All right is two words.

2. alot is not a word. A lot is two words.

3. To split an infinitive is wrong in the formal sense, but sometimes it is okay to occasionally split an infinitive because it sounds better to do so. Six infinitives that express time relationships are listed here.

4. Avoid the word “which” in favor of “that’,” if possible. Chicago Manual of Style debate on which versus that. (I always favor that if possible)

5. Do not end a sentence in a preposition, unless you are asking a question (what horse did you bet on?)

6.Do not start an essay with a dummy subject such as There or It.

7.Unless you wish to kill the essay outright, use the active voice. Proofread and eliminate passive voice.

8. Unless you are quoting dialogue, contractions are too informal for quality writing.

9. “Lay” is a verb.
lay – definition of lay by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and …
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/laylay 1 (l ). v. laid (l d), lay·ing, lays. v.tr. 1. To cause to lie down: lay a child in its crib. 2. a. To place in or bring to a particular position: lay the cloth over the painting.

10.Lay is the the past of lie.
Laid must have an object: He laid the fork down.

He laid down is a grammatical mistake.

11. Get a copy of Struck and White: Elements of Style.

Remember the Stephen King quote, “The road to Hell is paved with adverbs.”

Has this been helpful?

BTW: Four places that you likely will not find grammatical errors in are: The Christian Science Monitor, The Atlantic, Harper’s and The National Geographic.


Here is a recent Christian Science Monitor article on grammar.

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Comments
  1. Laura says:

    I was under the impression that it has never been incorrect to split an infinitive and that the proscription against split infinitives is based on the mistaken idea that since Latin infinitives cannot be split, English infinitives should not be split. Of course, a Latin infinitive is a single word. Also, I never heard of the advice to avoid the word “which,” which is a very useful word.

  2. ed nelson says:

    You have not answered my comments/e-mails… but on this one above… thanks a bunch for helping to instruct all us in the use of english !

    I really meant that too.

    Well I guess the point I want to make is: that, split infinitives… means nothing to some.

    what is a split infinitive? what the hell is one of those? Would you be so kind as to demonstrate the meaning of that term… ?

    • I just lost a comment! I am so sorry for neglecting my email! That is totally my fault!

      Okay. The split infinitive is not a hard and fast rule, BTW.

      Here is an example:
      Infinitive:
      To run.

      Split infinitive:

      To quickly run.

      Formally, in the old days, people did not split infinitives so much, but sometimes it sounds weird not to, so…you do see it.

      Again, I am sorry I have neglected my email- it’s my fault!

  3. ed nelson says:

    Oh thanks Rachel, that jogged my memory so’s I do remember the word “infinitives”, that is where that they take the verbs and put in front… “to” to do this; to do that, to talk; to write; to run; … etc.

    So, a split infinitive, is… to quickly run”… is that an adverb… (quickly…?), well that is what I take from the explanation.

    Kids like me in 9nth or 10nth grade, some of us weren’t ready for that kind of educational material, and in my case especially, very immature, slow starter from day one… (compromised, I think, from a difficult birth… if nothing else.)

    I was so “immature”, that I got rejectected…, slow starter, I still am behind.

    So in my way, I would used to wonder… why is an infinitive to be “split”, or even… what is an “infinitive”… ?

    See, the f’n school teachers know this shit, and got through some f’n college, and learned the basis of some of these concepts… studied a smidgeon of Latin… got a little of this and that…

    So when they are… Deployed through out… they are feeling competent… they think that they can be teachers anywhere on God’s green Earth. They feel free to step in to communitees accross the country and do what they do… “teach”, and so they are ready to go.

    And so the story goes… according to me: maybe some of these teachers, ain’t all as good as they think/ or the communitee that hires them!!! …. (thinks… ), but bottom line: these teachers from… “somewhere else”… well, they know where the butter meets the bread!… they were the best at putting the most important parent’s kids in the most best light, on the field and in the classroom. Inotherwords, the teachers often know where the bread needs to be buttered, and it is with the most important parents of whatever kid you want to talk about.

    Oh, hell I’m past all that now, but it was important in… Johnnies informative years… dadadah.

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