15 November, 2015

Grammar Time

In keeping with my unintentional theme on what to look for when editing/revising our Romance novels, I'd like to discuss the issue of misspelled, misused, and misinterpreted occurrences in our work.

And, yes, none more so than in my own. This isn't a gripe post and more of a help post (I hope). In all honesty, I don't look at this as complaining or wanting to sound better than some and more of an attempt to help elevate our genre to a higher, more acceptable status than what it is right now.

We deserve it.

Heroin vs. Heroine

An opioid painkiller vs a Female hero

Blond vs Blonde

This derives from French, and in keeping with their gender-based language, it should remain that in French, blond is masculine and blonde is feminine. So, a man has blond hair and a woman has blonde hair.

Damn it vs Dammit

Not entirely sure how this one got started or even why.

Research indicates that this is profoundly American, and that our Southern neighbors even go so far as to write Damnit, which is a misspelling of the non-word Dammit, and neither is correct.

Damn It is a two-word cuss of consternation, and Dammit is something a beaver will attempt on any pond. Damnit just means you forgot to hit the space bar.

Concrete vs Cement

Cement is a binder used to hold the other (concrete) materials together, and Concrete is the end result.

So, we walk and drive on CONCRETE . . . period. Using cement to mean concrete is like saying we fill up our cars with crude, we like to breathe fresh water particles, and our favorite dough is chocolate chip.

Cute Words that Aren't

Have you read the word SAMMICH in any novels? I have three times now, and I still can't believe my eyes.  The poor Earl of Sandwich must be tired from having to roll over in his grave so often.

Awake/Awaken/Awoke    Woke/Woken/Awoken   Wake/Waked/Waken/Wakened 

These all depend on tense. And whether or not you care about the use/abuse of lazy English appearing in your writing.

She is now wide AWAKE
WAKE UP, sleepyhead!
(past participle) We will/need to AWAKEN before dawn / The crash of thunder AWAKENED him from his restless slumber.
(past tense) He AWOKE from a sound sleep at the loud bang outside his room.
WOKE UP is an acceptable past-tense replacement.

WOKEN is lazy usage and ultimately became accepted as a word, but that doesn't make it correct.
So, too, with WAKEN(ed)
(Waked Up is a no-no -- unless you're five or younger)

Now, as Lazy English goes, we're all guilty of some form of language abuse, be it deliberate or unknowing.

I was raised to believe that a club sandwich was something other than turkey on rye. Imagine my shock and disappointment the first time I ordered a club sandwich and was handed a turkey on rye!

"I ordered a club sandwich," I grumbled to my friend.

"That is a club sandwich," she replied.

"It is not," I argued. "A club sandwich has bacon, lettuce, tomato, and Spanish olives."

"No," my friend said and rolled her eyes, "that would be a BLT."

(My mother STILL calls a BLT a Club)

I once dated a guy who used the phrase Ramp & Rave about as often as I would correct him with RANT & Rave. We ended up ranting and raving about a lot of things before eventually going our separate ways.

The Hyphen

There is only one (-), and it shouldn't be confused with the (−) to indicate negative/minus.

When separating two words, we hyphenate: First-class.
A word break at the end of a margin uses the same thing to separate a single word like ask-
ing, and software such as Word and Kindle will insert these for you.

The Dash

( ― ) Not to be confused with the hyphen or vise-versa. And, I've seen plenty of First―Class usage in novels. It just looks bad.

The dash is used to break up dialogue and to denote emphasis of thought. "If he ever calls me again―and I do mean ever―I'm going to explode." Or for the hesitant/anxious speaker: "I―I don't know."

Also used when cutting off dialogue mid-sentence. "What I meant was―." "I said shut up, Larry."


(Greek, singular Ellipsis)

By far, the most abused of symbols in everything from novels to blog posts to memes.

"…" should not be confused with ". . ." or you'll confuse the reader.

... is an omission and . . . is a pause.

Article writers will use the omission... when quoting only part of what someone else has said. You'll see them use the pause . . . when quoting bits and pieces of someone else's words.

In your novel, however, it is a little different.

(omission) "I really need to find another job, or else I'll end up... " He lets out a heavy sigh, grabs his man purse, and heads out the door.

(pause) "I really need to find another job, or else I'll end up . . . hell, I already AM like my father."

As a courtesy to your reader, leave space between the . . . and after the... so that they appear less cramped.

This is marked to post on Sunday but was written on Friday, the 13th. Although I'm far from superstitious, we all know what a horrific day this turned out to be for our friends in Paris and Japan.

Uplifting, happy thoughts are needed right now, and I'd like to be able to say I was a part of that effort, so next week I will attempt to post nothing but happy thoughts!

Your comments, thoughts, suggestions, issues, and insight are always welcome. Please feel free to reply to any of my posts.

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