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Below are the 15 most recent journal entries recorded in Caring About Spelling, Grammar, and Punctuation's LiveJournal:

Thursday, November 20th, 2008
12:40 am
Complete Sentences? *le gasp*
So, you thought there's nothing wrong with using correctly constructed sentences in speech, eh?

Aaaaaaaaaand, we're back. My apologies. I moved, then I've been having internet troubles, which have now slightly improved after several visits from comcast, and now I'm actually making a note to post some grammar/punctuation rule in the morrow.

The best way to remind me is to leave a comment, which I'll hopefully get in my inbox in the morning and be instantly reminded to post!
Thursday, October 2nd, 2008
2:38 pm
Wednesday, September 24th, 2008
11:14 pm
Let's Celebrate Punctuation
Today is National Punctuation Day.

By now, as a member of this community, you'll know that the comma is not a state of being and a semicolon is not a surgical procedure.

And here is a prime example what the misuse of a comma can do (credit goes to southernwitch69):

"I want to come inside Harry!" Ron shouted.

You can't help but scratch your head if this is in a fic that has absolutely no slashy tendency, right?

"I want to come inside, Harry!" Ron shouted.

Doesn't that comma just clarify what Ron said?

In dialogue, ALWAYS separate the direct address with comma(s).
Wednesday, September 17th, 2008
12:06 pm
Who vs Whom
Here's one some people seem to have trouble with: When to use who and when to use whom. It's easy, honestly.

Both are pronouns, and the difference is that who is the subject pronoun whilst whom is the object pronoun. Clear as mud? Okay, let's take this sentence: I love you. You in this sentence are the object of my affection. You is also the object of the sentence. ;) I is the subject and you the object. Therefore, the Rolling Stones displayed incorrect grammar in their song Who Do You Love.

If you refer to the subject, you use who:

Who hexed you?
Who was hiding in the dungeons?

If you refer to the object, you use whom:

"You love whom?" Ron asked incredulously.
Whom did he hide in the dungeons?

And here is a trick: If you can answer that who/whom question with him, which has an m at the end, just like whom, then you use whom. If you answer the question with he, which doesn't contain an m, then you use who.
Tuesday, September 9th, 2008
10:53 pm
Punctuation in Dialogue
This is probably most useful for non-native English speakers, as punctuation in dialogue seems to vary from language to language.

The rule in English is that you place punctuation WITHIN the quotes. Simple as that.

"No, I don't like you," Hermione said to Ron.
"But why not?" cried Ron.
"You idiot!" she yelled.
"Who? Me? You are insane."

See? Comma, question mark, exclamation mark, period, they all go BEFORE the closing quotation mark. ALWAYS.

And no doubt, that'll lead some of you to the question of when something following dialogue is capitalised and when not...

Which brings us to speech attributes. A speech attribute is a verb that conveys that the person is speaking. Say, shout, utter, ask, yell, reply, answer are typical speech attributes. If you use a speech attribute, you essentially continue the sentence from dialogue into narrative:

"No, I don't like you," she said to him.
"But why not?" cried Ron.
"Because you are an idiot," she replied.

Regardless of the type of punctuation (question mark, exclamation mark, comma), the sentence continues and unless there's a proper noun starting the narrative, you lowercase the first word because the sentence continues. That's also the reason why you don't end the dialogue with a period; it has to be a comma instead because the sentence continues. So, if dialogue is followed by narrative containing a speech attribute, the sentence continues, which means that simple nouns are NOT capitalised.

Consequently, if no speech attribute is used, then a new sentence starts after the end of the dialogue:

"No, I don't like you." She looked at him with a hopeless expression.
"But why not?" He sounded as if he was about to start crying.
"Because you are an idiot." The words had slipped out before she was able to stop them.
Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008
4:31 pm
20 Examples of Grammar Misuse
The BBC has collected comments from its readers about grammar misuse. It even includes some quotations from Fowler's Modern English as well as the BBC News style. Verrrrrrry interesting.

Current Mood: amused
Friday, August 29th, 2008
9:59 pm
Apostrophes and when to use them
Apostrophes are highly overused and often incorrectly so.

Really, there are three main reasons why an apostrophe is used:

1. to form the possessive of a noun
2. to show the omission of letters
3. to indicate certain plurals of letters, mainly done for clarification purposes


1. The father of the child will become: The child's father -> possessive singular
The combined stupidity of two nations: The two nations' combined stupidity -> possessive plural (note that the s comes BEFORE the apostrophe)

2. It is cold becomes: It's cold (note that it's and its are two entirely different words)
They are rather crazy: They're rather crazy
Do not mock me for my grammar obsession: Don't mock me for my grammar obsession.
Who is responsible: Who's responsible (note that who's and whose have two very different meanings)
I could have screamed: I could've screamed (Please don't get into the habit of replacing the 've with 'of,' that is very, very wrong!)

3. Mind your p's and q's is a fairly common term, possibly stemming from the days when manners were still taught to smaller children, and the mothers would simply shorten the phrase "Mind your pleases and thank yous."

More on this on the internet About Grammar and a lot more detail here
Friday, August 22nd, 2008
12:28 pm
One mistake made often is the mis-capitalising of Potions master, Potions professor, etc. as well as seemingly random capitalisation of nouns.

When master/professor is part of the title, then it is capitalised:

"Yes, Professor McGonagall."

However, that's pretty much the only occasion. When you simply refer to the professor, then you don't capitalise.

Likewise, terms of endearment are never capitalised. "Yes, honey." "No, love, that's not what I meant."

Polite address is never capitalised either. "No, miss, I was not aware." "Yes, sir."

When sir or madam become part of a title, however, they're capped: Professor Snape, Madam Pomfrey.

Sir/Lady/Lord are only capped as an honorary title: Sir Gallahad, Lord Thingy, Lady Ascot.

For more examples, see Writers' Resources at The Petulant Poetess.
Saturday, August 16th, 2008
8:40 pm
Ellipsis Points
Those three evenly spaced dots tend to be highly overused, so here are some pointers when to use an ellipsis:

In dialogue, to show faltering, fragmented speech, interrupted speech, or instead of a dash to grab the reader's attention.
In narrative, to show omission of quoted material.

There are different ways to indicate an ellipsis:

Three periods with spaces: Robbi once used . . . oh, how I remember . . . an ellipsis correctly.
Three periods with spaces before and after: Robbi never uses ... and I mean never ... ellipses correctly.
Some references also allow for three periods followed by a space: Robbi... and I know this to be true... rolls her eyes every time I correct her incorrect use of ellipses.
Thursday, August 7th, 2008
7:16 am
Grammar Test
Since Karelia is gone to Terminus, I thought to post a link to a grammar test that you can all take.  Also, I am too lazy to quote rules today, so this test will work nicely. 

The Commonly Confused Words test: Click Here

Now, when you're all through and get your results, and you want to see what the answers were, there is a place to go and do that.  The girl who wrote the test was even kind enough to explain each one.

Answers (no peeking until you take the test): Click Here
Monday, August 4th, 2008
11:13 pm
Lie vs. Lay or Why Eric Clapton Was Wrong
Eric Clapton's song, Lay Down Sally, is grammatically incorrect. Hahaha. So here be our subject today: Lie and Lay. It's a very common error to make.

Why is Eric Clapton wrong? He makes it sound like he's telling someone to lay Sally down. ;) If you lay yourself down, the word to use is lie. If you lay SOMETHING down, the word to use is lay.

So, in present tense:

I lie down on bed.
I lay the book on the shelf.

Now, to the tricky part, the past tense (the tense most commonly used in fic):

Severus was too tired to stay up, so he went to the bedroom and lay on the bed.
Hermione laid her book on the shelf and followed him.

Naturally, fiction writing, if done in the past tense, is rarely complete without some past perfect, so:

Severus had lain in bed at the time the authors crashed the door to enter his quarters.
Hermione had just laid the book on the shelf when she heard a noise.



Friday, August 1st, 2008
12:27 am
Another No Comma Rule
I know many of you just love commas, right? And because I like torture, here is another rule that forbids it. I should point out that there are various languages in which a comma is a must before the word that, depending on the context. Believe me, though, English isn't one of them.

RULE: Before that -> NO COMMA

Examples: The face that she made upon the news spoke volumes.

She said that she could make it to the meeting without problems.

You have to put salt in the marinara sauce so the flavour comes out.
(That's right, there is no 'that'. The 'that' is implied: You have to put salt in the marinara sauce so that the flavour comes out.)

There. Another potentially fatal comma eliminated.
Thursday, July 31st, 2008
1:30 am
The No Comma Rule
When I beta for a writer who likes commas, my first advice is always, "If in doubt, leave the comma out." And I never cease to be amazed how their error count decreases rapidly when they apply that.

Another comma rampant in the fanfiction universe is the one before certain words.

RULE: Before when, where, until, unless, before, while, since -> NO COMMA

Tip: When you type/write a comma, stop and THINK. Why would the comma be needed here?

As an admin and/or beta, I strike out more commas than I add. Srsly.
Tuesday, July 29th, 2008
11:21 pm
Why No Comma Before This And?
So, now that you know when to put a comma before the conjunction, you’re ready to learn when not to put it there, right?

‘I am tired from today’s strenuous activities and want to go to sleep.’

Down to the skeleton sentence: ‘I am and want.’

In this case, the verbs (am, want) share the subject (I), and when that is the case, there is NO comma. So:

If two verbs share the subject -> no comma

And not only that but the sentence also lists two actions about the subject:

am tired
want to go to sleep

When there is a listing of only two items or actions -> no comma

Tip: If you’re new to all this, use the ‘Find’ function in your word processing program for the word and when you’re done with your chapter. Read each sentence that contains and. If each verb has a subject, add a comma before and. If two verbs share the subject, make sure there is NO comma. This way, you’ll probably have eliminated a good 50% of your error count.
2:30 am
The Comma in the Compound Sentence
When you have two complete sentences and pull them into one with a conjunction (the most common being ‘and’), you.need.a.comma.

Writers put commas all over the place where they don’t belong. But they miss the one in a compound sentence more often than any other.

‘I am tired from today’s strenuous activities, and I want to go to sleep.’

If you take it down to the skeleton, the two complete sentences are: ‘I am. I want.’ A verb and a subject.

That’s all it takes to make a complete sentence. In fact, even if the subject is implied, you can have a complete sentence. The shortest in the English language being: “Go.”

Now you want to combine the two sentences into one: ‘I am, and I want.‘

There are cases where you get away without the comma; but putting the comma before the conjunction that pulls together two complete sentences is never wrong.

The exceptions are: If either sentence comprises six or fewer words, you don’t have to put a comma. That means: You are still allowed the comma!!! So, if you’re fond of commas, keep this occasion in mind, for it’s never wrong to put it in this place: I am, and I saw, and I conquered.

Now, go and conquer that comma. The next entries will be about where NOT to put commas.
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