Tag Archives: grammar

Readathon mini-challenge: Diagram a sentence!

Welcome, Readathon-ers! I know you’re probably tired, but this will definitely be a change of pace, which is a good thing.

This mini-challenge pulls many fun aspects of a word-filled life together. I love looking at other people’s handwriting, and diagramming sentences was so much nerdy fun in school, wasn’t it? I love the visual representation of how the words of a sentence fit together. And as much as I’m sometimes practically tied to a computer, there’s just something about putting physical pen to physical paper, right? I love the tactile nature of it. Also, this definitely works a different part of your brain, while still being bookish. Win-win!

So, diagram a sentence! Go back to that book you’re reading and open it up. Find a sentence, and diagram it! Go on, embrace that inner grammar nerd.

Once you’re finished, take a photo and post it to your blog. Leave me a comment with the link.

Want an example? Here’s one I did:

(You can click on the photo to view it larger, if need be.)

Or maybe it’s been a while since you practiced this particular skill. No worries, here are a couple refreshers:
from LifestreamCenter
from WikiHow
from About
specifically about adverb clauses
Or, actually, just go to English Grammar Revolution.

If you’re of the anti-diagramming camp, perhaps you should start with this New York Times post?

OK, hop to! Go forth and diagram! (And then come back and post your permalinks.) In three hours, at 7 a.m. Central time, I’ll close this challenge and draw a winner.

Edited to add: This mini-challenge is now closed and a winner has been selected: Anna of The Adventures of a Linguaphile! Congratulations! Thanks so much to everyone for playing along. Hope you had fun.

National Grammar Day: Grammar books

Today is National Grammar Day! Hosted this year by Grammar Girl, aka Mignon Fogarty, hopefully the discourse this time around will be more civil — productive, even? As Fogarty says, “Language is something to be celebrated, and March 4 is the perfect day to do it. It’s not only a date, it’s an imperative: March forth on March 4 to speak well, write well, and help others do the same!” (My post from 2009.)

This year, I thought, rather than simply announcing this great day here (I have no reason, really, to get involved in a discussion about the pros and cons of grammar) I’d do something different.

So, without further ado, a list of grammar books (and no, these aren’t exactly textbooks, although I could perhaps make a list of those too, hmm …):

Grammar books I’ve read:

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss

Grammar books on my wish list:

On the Dot: The Speck That Changed the World by Alexander Humez and Nicholas Humez

Things That Make Us (Sic): The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar Takes on Madison Avenue, Hollywood, the White House, and the World by Martha Brockenbrough

I Judge You When You Use Poor Grammar: A Collection of Egregious Errors, Disconcerting Bloopers, and Other Linguistic Slip-Ups by Sharon Eliza Nichols (I think I’m still a member, albeit inactive, of this Facebook group)

The Grammar Devotional: Daily Tips for Successful Writing from Grammar Girl by Mignon Fogarty
I used to listen to Fogarty’s podcast.

Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing by Mignon Fogarty

The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier: How to Solve the Mysteries of Weak Writing by Bonnie Trenga
Good title, right?

Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English by Patricia T. O’Conner

Have you read any grammar books?

NOTE: I’m using a broad definition of grammar here. Punctuation may not exactly be the same thing as grammar, but it’s close enough.

If you’re more a person of action, John McIntyre has a list of tasks one can undertake in honor of National Grammar Day.

Double negative labeling

I promise this blog is not turning into one that just finds fault with grammar and usage (plenty exist already), but I couldn’t help myself.

Sans Gluten Free glutino

Here we have Glutino brand Sans Gluten Free Wafer Cookies. While they taste really quite good, I was a little nervous because if it’s “without gluten free,” I suppose that would mean the cookies actually did contain gluten, which I’ve been strictly avoiding for nearly 11 months now.

I realize that this instance is almost certainly due to the bilingual nature of this packaging (Glutino is a Canadian brand), but still. On the side of the box, it’s much clearer, where it says: “SANS GLUTEN/BLE • GLUTEN/WHEAT FREE.” See, it’s not actually that difficult to communicate clearly, is it?

(And yes, they were quite tasty. Yum.)

Unnecessary quotation marks

please open door slowly
As seen on our recent trip to Florida, on the door of Down the Hatch, a coastal restaurant on Daytona Beach.

It shouldn’t need to be said here, but I’ll say it anyway: Quotation marks do not provide emphasis. Rather, they indicate that the material contained therein is being quoted. Hence the name of the marks. For emphasis, many techniques could be effective here. Bold, italics, underline, all caps [when the whole sign isn’t in caps], asterisks around the word, larger font, different font, different color — these are just a few of the options preferable to quotation marks. While I may not *love* all of these options, they’d all be better than quotation marks.

Today’s National Grammar Day

The official site for the event, hosted by the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar (SPOGG). The site boasts a Bad Grammar Hall of Fame Playlist, not to mention a Top Ten list of grammar tips. The site also has links to many, many other grammar-related blogs. (Here’s the SPOGG blog.)

Meanwhile, Arnold Zwicky at Language Log is shunning National Grammar Day and its “nastiness”.

I’ll admit, some of the language on the official Grammar Day site does sound a bit militant. Nathan Bierma, writing in the Chicago Tribune, urges a middle ground. He also cites Grammar Girl as hoping for civility in the discussion.

So, instead of celebrating this day cheerfully fault-finding, howzabout we celebrate good grammar where we find it?

How will you celebrate National Grammar Day 2009?

My post about National Grammar Day last year. And a related post from nearly two years ago.

2 books published

The first two books I proofread are now in print! I haven’t seen the final version of either.

The first book I proofed: Mongoose in the Sand by Ron Godby. This fiction book tells the story of an elite Marine unit’s harrowing mission. It’s written by a U.S. Marines veteran. Also available for the Kindle.

The second book I proofed: The Soul of a Christian University: A Field Guide for Educators, edited by Stephen Beers (Each chapter was written by a different person or persons in Christian higher education.). Amazon is “temporarily out of stock” of this title. This book is a guide to help educators (faculty and staff) new to Christian higher education acclimate to their new environment.

I’ve been waiting and waiting for this day!

I was just handed (yesterday) a good chunk (not all) of my next proofreading project.

Style guide and local library

I became in need of The Chicago Manual of Style this week, and I don’t own a copy.

We called the local library, to see if its shelves bore a copy of the style guide. The response: The Siloam Springs Public Library does have a copy of the style book — from 1993. I declined that offer, and promptly signed up for the 30-day free trial of the online version of the style book.

Next time, I’ll get out and buy a current copy of the book.

Happy National Grammar Day

Reblogging from Write Well Me:

I don’t have much to say on this topic except the following:

• March 4 also happens to be my daughter’s birthday. Anastasia and grammar will be forever linked.
• They’ll make a day out of anything
• National Grammar Day gives plenty of fodder for those of who care about such things. Read this and this. (Case in point: this very blog post you’re reading.)

For more information, visit the National Grammar Day website. Yes, there’s an entire website as well as a whole day devoted to grammar.

The discussion between the Baltimore Sun editor and Language Log’s Geoffrey Pullum, referenced above, is quite interesting to follow. I can see both sides of the that vs. which in relative clauses debate pretty clearly. Having supported myself as a copy editor, I’m glad to hear that Language Log doesn’t hate my kind. I don’t want to sound clichéd, but I would like editors and linguists to work together; I don’t see why they’re divided. Maybe that’s just me, editor and wannabe linguist.

Where do you place yourself in this debate?