Tuesday, June 23, 2015

New Bloggers: Brush Up on Your Sixth-Grade Grammar

Read more advice for new blog writers at New Bloggers: Think Like a Publishing Professional.

I’ve been a grammar geek since high school, and that interest has served me well. At different points in my publishing career, I’ve been a writer, an editor, or a proofreader. Here are the grammatical errors I most commonly see on quilting blogs.

This picture serves no purpose other than to show you
that when I’m not quilting, I’m sewing bags!

Contractions

It’s means “it is.” Its is a possessive pronoun. (Instagram users, take note. Auto-correct can lead you astray on this grammatical point, and you are smarter than auto-correct!)
  • Correct: It’s great that she paid a bajillion dollars for my quilt!
  • Correct: I’d like to give that quilt its due and cut it into a bajillion pieces! Mwahahahaha!
Pronouns

Using I or myself instead of me doesn’t make you sound smarter. Often, it’s just plain wrong.

Me: This is an objective case pronoun. Something is happening to it. Use me in prepositional phrases.
  • Correct: Please send your comments about our amazing quilt to So-and-So or me. 
I: This is a nominative case pronoun. It’s the subject of the sentence, the one doing the action.
  • Correct: So-and-So and I are hosting a blog hop.
  • Incorrect: Join So-and-So and I in our blog hop. (A quick way to test your pronouns here is to simplify things. Join I ... sounds weird, right? Join me ... works, though. When you add your dear friend So-and-So to the mix, you know it should be Join So-and-So and me.)
  • Incorrect: The bloggers in this hop include So-and-So, So-and-So’s best friend, and I. (You can use the same test here. The bloggers ... include I sounds odd, but The bloggers ... include me works. The sentence should be written: The bloggers in this hop include So-and-So, So-and-So’s best friend, and me.)
Myself: This is a reflexive pronoun. A reflexive pronouns calls attention to itself and ends in self or selves.
  • Correct: I hurt myself with my sewing shears while cutting that quilt into a bajillion pieces.
  • Correct: I thought to myself, That quilt will be mine!
  • Incorrect: Please send your comments about our amazing quilt to So-and-So or myself. (This sentence should read So-and-So or me.)
Run-on sentences

Periods and conjunctions are your friends! If you have two independent clauses—that is, two chunks of words that can stand alone as complete sentences—they need more than a comma joining them.
  • Incorrect: She gave me fat quarters of Amy Butler’s new line, they’re beautiful! (She gave me fat quarters of Amy Butler’s new line is a complete sentence that could stand on its own. They’re beautiful is also a complete sentence.)
  • Correct: She gave me fat quarters of Amy Butler’s new line! They’re beautiful! (You can fix the problem in the incorrect sentence above—called a comma splice—by breaking the sentence into two.)
  • Correct: She gave me fat quarters of Amy Butler’s new line, and they’re beautiful! (You can also fix the situation by adding and or another coordinating conjunction [or, but] after the comma.)
  • Correct: She gave me fat quarters of Amy Butler’s new line; they’re beautiful! (If the relationship between the two sentences is especially close, you could also replace the comma with a semicolon.) 

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7 comments:

  1. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.

    There are two "famous" quilt bloggers that need to be sent this post as well....

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  2. I can't believe you missed apostrophes! The amount of times I see "photo's"... Some bloggers use an apostrophe s instead of a plural ending - monkey's, and some just seem to use it for every plural - lot's quilt's. It drives me up the wall.

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  3. For many in our country reading and writing is a struggle... I routinely follow blogs that are funny, that teach me things I would like to learn more about, or that offer a great outlook on life and sewing. I can’t think of a single time I followed a blog because of perfect grammar. Undeniably some people are simply not careful when writing (me, me and me!) but there are others that are doing the best that they can…

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    Replies
    1. I think it's important to consider these grammar points in the context of the main post, New Bloggers: Think Like a Publishing Professional (http://frombolttobeauty.blogspot.com/2015/06/new-bloggers-think-like-publishing.html). There's been a lot of talk lately about what new bloggers need to know. My point is simple: Be more mindful of what you post, and you may attract more readers.

      I agree with you. I don't follow any blog because of the impeccable grammar I find there. I have, however, chosen to stop reading some blogs because the number of grammatical errors and typos make for difficult reading.

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    2. I loved this post and I agree with your response here, too. I have also stopped following blogs when the bloggers had such poor grammar they became difficult to read. One rule my mom drilled into my head was for the line - where's it at; you don't need the at. She would say "where means at". You should just say where is it. I bug my coworkers about this one all the time - if I know they won't be offended by the correction.

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  4. Argh ... I hate grammar! This reminds me of high school English were they made you find the mistake. (Insert horrible flashbacks!)

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Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts! I almost always respond to comments by email. If my response might interest others, I'll also post it here. If you've commented on my blog and never received a response, you're likely a no-reply blogger.