I grew up among middle-class everyday folk. Language was one thing that separated groups of people as I had come to know them. When I was young, every once in a while I’d hear someone say, “Oh my! She talks so uppity!” Read More
Tag Archives: poor grammar
Fewer or Less
These two words are not interchangeable. I see many incorrect usages but the rules about how they are used can be easily explained. Can you tell which of these sentences is incorrect?
~ I’ve written less books than some authors I know.
~ I’ve written fewer books than some authors I know.
Or how about:
~ I spend less time writing than I do editing.
~ I spend fewer time writing than I do editing.
~ There were less pencils on his desk.
~ There were fewer pencils on his desk.
In some sentences, you can tell when it doesn’t sound right. Here again is when the rule “write how you speak” does not apply. We all use colloquialisms and never notice our poor grammar, maybe till we become writers. But keep in mind, an avid reader knows when a sentence is incorrect and will make mental note of it. Too many of these errors and the reader will become frustrated and, perhaps, not read another story or book by that author.
The rule is:
~ The word fewer applies to individual quantities.
~ The word less applies to items in bulk.
My Oxford dictionary offers this:
“Make sure you distinguish between fewer and less. Use fewer with plural nouns, as in there are fewer people here today; use less with nouns referring to things that can’t be counted, as in there is less blossom on this tree.”
Please visit Mary Deal’s website for more wonderful articles like this one: Write Any Genre. Read More
Drop the Words
Colloquialism and slang have their place in diction. That applies to both fiction and nonfiction. However, it doesn’t fit in proper grammar usage when attempting to make your story or book, fiction or nonfiction, the best that it can be.
Eat it up
Where are you at?
Read these sentences again, only this time, substitute the word “down” in place of “up.”
In the first example, how can you “eat it up” if you can’t “eat it down?” Simply put, you “eat it.”
In the second sentence the words “where” and “at” are synonymous as to location. You may as well ask, “Where are you where?” Properly asked, it’s “Where are you?”
When writing, in proper grammar usage, some words need to be dropped from sentences all together. However, if you develop a story character who speaks using these colloquialisms, then his or her diction must be established the first time that character speaks. And further, the character’s language must follow through with similar jargon anytime his or her dialogue is included.
Written dialogue allows for misusages of grammar. It enhances drawls, brogues, and general linguistics found in varying regions and among groups of people. However, in writing narrative, drop the words that make your writing look amateurish and you, the author, unprofessional. Dropping the poor grammar in the narrative portions of stories sets the dialogue apart, which is a must. and draws attention to the uniqueness of each character.
An exception is when the narrator intends to make the narration sounds like the storyteller speaks that way. An example would be when a person from the deep south is telling his life story. We know it’s about him in his own words. We allow for his dialect in both the narration and dialogue. Or a person with a foreign accent tells his or her story; then the narration and dialogue will have great similarities.
With the exception of the above example, and particularly in the editing stage, drop the words that do nothing but distract from the value of the sentence.