December 5, 2012 § 10 Comments
Whenever I have a grammar or punctuation question, my first stop in the search is a visit to Grammar Girl.
Her answers always make sense, and when I’m still confused, she responds to messages on Twitter. How I love a true grammarista!
Yesterday I sent a question regarding what seemed to be a new push toward removing the comma from before the word “too”. My writer friends and I have been up in arms over the change.
Her response was that she didn’t get the impression it was a recent thing, but guided me to her post on the subject for some clarification.
Sometimes in grammar and punctuation, issues come up that can be discussed. In professional editing, when questionable changes are made, the best editors are able to justify their choices, making the act of editing much like writing; creative within boundaries of proper form.
“Do not use comma before the words “too”, “also”, “as well” and any similar terms.”
Such a definitive rule with no grey areas for discussion. No wonder I failed.
Grammar Girl’s post in regard to “comma too” gives a writer the freedom to decide for themselves whether or not the comma should to be used.
Apparently, many children’s book-publishers agree with Grammar Girl and not with CloudCrowd. In four recently published children’s books (checked out this week at our local library), the comma is being used freely in front of “too” restoring my faith in publishers everywhere.
I like commas an awful lot (it borders on an addiction), so I appreciate the freedom to decide if and when they should be used (in this case, specifically).
How about you? You, too?
Are you with Grammar Girl and me, or do you take the side of CloudCrowd?
November 11, 2012 § 8 Comments
Songstress Taylor Swift has made an enviable career by writing and singing her truths. While some of her songs (like Hey Stephen from the Fearless album) speak of sweet love, Taylor’s lyrics often touch on the other side of boy/girl relationships; the stuff that some might find embarrassing.
She’s gotten a lot of flack for speaking the truth. Grown men have said they love her, but wouldn’t date her, because of the risk they run in having a song created about them that might document a failed relationship. “Chickens,” I say.
Though my format is different, like Taylor, I write about my feelings and experiences. Nothing is off-limits. Is anything safe?
It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that I am currently writing about my divorce and all of the traumatic, embarrassing, and disappointing parts of the transition.
The other day I was advised not to tell the world that I have my kids in play therapy (to help them adjust to the upcoming changes). But what is wrong with telling this truth? My kids are benefitting, and as a parent I am doing what is responsible for their well-being. Should I not disclose the things that led my husband and me to separate? Should I not share experiences that might help someone else (going through a similar life-trial)?
The argument that it’s private doesn’t hold weight. What is private? Isn’t sharing, caring? Don’t others benefit from shared experiences? It’s not slander unless it’s said with malicious intent. Is secrecy, then, an attempt to hide a bruised ego?
I’m willing to disclose my own bruised ego.
Here’s this gem:
Yesterday I failed another CloudCrowd test, after three mind-numbing hours of writing, editing and proof reading. I even had back-up this time to ensure that I’d pass; mom was a room away to double-check my work.
It looked good, I thought, but I failed.
When I had settled down enough (after receiving my rejection email; F-word F-word F-word), I went back to look at the critique.
1. I made one subject/verb agreement after the thing had been written and during my last minutes before posting. I knew I shouldn’t have changed act to acts (the subject). I didn’t even think about the verb. Bad, bad writer girl!
2. I was accused of not comparing and contrasting the subject matter, which was the main objective to the second written piece. The fact that the subject was “Religion in the United States,” and that I compared the freedom from religion in our country to countries who do not allow such freedoms, seemed to go unnoticed.
3. My mom and I had major discussions about whether our freedom was “from” or “of” religion. Ultimately, I chose to say “from” since our government doesn’t require us to practice a national religion, nor are we ruled under a government that preaches a particular choice. We are free from being told what we should believe.
4. The last time I tested, I wrote far more than the 200 words that were required. I felt that this set me up to be judged on more errors (resulting in fail number one). Yesterday, I decided to keep it closer to the word limit, but with a topic like U.S. Religion, this was hard. Still, I thought I did a good job, though apparently I was wrong.
My frustration with CloudCrowd has me questioning whether or not I should hang up the editing piece of this budding writing career.
At the same time, I wonder if I should try again with a different company whose reviewers are a little more open-minded to written interpretation, especially on the written exams?
The truth is not always pretty, but there is power in its function. I believe in this wholeheartedly.
Are you a secret keeper who believes that things should be private or do you speak the truth despite the consequence of embarrassment?
October 31, 2012 § 5 Comments
Yesterday, as we scrambled to put together costumes for the pre-school Halloween party, my daughters’ personality differences were on full display.
Sophie, generally easy-going and not as fussy about her appearance, made the quick decision to go as a cat. Simple enough; we gathered the all black ensemble; kitty ears, tulle skirt with attached tail, turtleneck, and leggings.
Grace, my mirror, inherited her mother’s discouraging habit of trying on every outfit in the closet (thus mussing the room with tossed, willy-nilly clothes) only to end up in the first frock that began the unfortunate series of events.
Standing amidst the candy-colored, tulle mess and finally pleased with her costume, I realized two things; Grace and I are very good examples of the power of genetics, and I need to get going on my punctuation re-education; this time placing focus on the hyphen.
According to Lynn Truss (Eat Shoots & Leaves), the hyphen is, “…hard to use wrongly.”
So why, then, do I feel so afraid them – not just at Halloween?
After a morning of Internet investigating, here is what I’ve learned:
1. Hyphens are very good at letting a reader in on a joke, also helping to imply that a raised or lowered voice will add emotion to the punch line.
i.e. My daughter has a face that looks like her aunt Janine – her attitude is all mom.
2. Hyphens can be used to connect or separate sentences, but are also appropriate when combining two words; creating compounds.
i.e. In Grace’s fifteen minute costume tirade, she was a butterfly-fairy, butterfly-princess, cat-princess, princess-bride, before rounding back to the beginning, settling on the original and most, “This one doesn’t tickle,” butterfly-fairy.
3. When two describing words come after a noun, they are not hyphenated.
i.e. I love apples when they’re caramel covered.
4. A hyphen can be used to join two (or more) words that act as a combined adjective before a noun.
i.e. I hope they have caramel-covered apples at the Halloween party this afternoon.
5. Lots of words can be connected (or combined) with or without hyphens.
i.e. The hair-splitting screams came from the bedroom were spooky.
i.e. Grace’s screams were hairsplitting.
i.e. Hair splitting screams are not a good way to start the morning.
6. Hyphenate compound numbers.
i.e Is it weird for a forty-one-year-old to wear a tutu?
7. Hyphens should be used with the prefixes self-, ex-, and all-, and with the suffix -elect. They can be used with other prefixes if it helps to clarify a confusing word or spelling. Here is a great list of examples (much better than my own).
But here is my attempt …
i.e. Pre-adolescence is going to fun!
i.e. It is unacceptable to leave your room a mess.
i.e. Re-education (with the prefix separated by a hyphen) looks less confusing to me than reeducation.
8. Probably the first time I was ever made to be afraid of the hyphen was when learning that they are needed in sentences when the word doesn’t fit on the line.
a. Divide line breaks at the place where the hyphen already exists.
b. Between syllables.
c. With words that end in -ing, they need to be separated at the place where the final consonant and root word are split (i.e. run-ning, or speak-ing, or dres-sing).
9. Saving the best for last, if you happen to use an Apple computer and want a longer hyphen, as opposed to a tiny word-spacing hyphen, press the alt button, while also pressing the hyphen at the upper right side of the keyboard.
i.e.[-] vs. [–]. Nice, right?
In approximately four-and-a-half hours we will revisit the “hyphenation Halloween-costume-fiasco”, as we attempt to ready ourselves for today’s afternoon Halloween house party (house-party?).
Without the help of a hyphen, what-oh-what would we be?
Are you dressing up for Halloween? What are your kids going to be? Any hyphens involved?