Thursday, August 26, 2010

Topic: Grammar: Some Pet Habits to Avoid.

Purpose of this blog: Reviews of interesting ideas in recent English education journals.

Title: “Train Your Pet Words.” Noelle Sterne. The Writer (September 2010), 33.

Summary: The author’s editor did not just go after the usual mistakes, but added some that the author [and I] did not expect.

Quote: “The favorites my editor skewered weren’t these pet words we all hug—overuse of passive tense [sic. voice. RayS.], (‘The computer was powered up by the writer’), adverbial abuse (‘definitely,’ ‘very,’ ‘weakly’), and modifiers clawing for a foothold [danglers, RayS.] (‘Writing this article, the errors were glaring’).”

The four errors her editor skewered were starting a sentence with “and” or “but.” [Comment: I do it all the time and so do many published writers. However, I think I do it too often and unnecessarily.  I’ll check. RayS.]

Overuse of “now” and “then.” [Comment: I can recognize that these words can be overused. In the future, [I almost said “from now on….”]I’ll check to see how often I use them. RayS.]

The verb with the “-ing” tail: “ was finishing.” [Comment: The author had 13 repetitions of this verb use. Her editor said that the simple past tense “finished” was adequate. I tend to agree. From now on, I’ll check how many times I have put the “-ing” tail on my verbs. RayS.]

Same-start paragraphs. [Comment: Hard to avoid starting the same paragraph in the same way. However, sometimes it’s important for emphasis, but if emphasis is not the reason, then I shouldn’t do it often. Touché. RayS].

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