Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Please welcome The Grammar Queen

Good morning, class. Our subject today concerns . . . yes, you are correct: grammar. As writers, certainly you do not have to be told that GRAMMAR IS YOUR FRIEND.

On the other hand, although I am certain each and every one of you is quite charming and likable, the Grammar Queen is not here to be your friend. The Grammar Queen is here to INSTRUCT YOU IN THE RULES OF PROPER GRAMMAR.

Ah, yes, I can hear you already. “But I write fiction. Fiction writers have permission to break rules. We start sentences with and and but. We use incomplete sentences. We let our characters say ain’t, or even to WHO it may concern.”

Yes, yes, yes, I understand completely. And the Grammar Queen is not here to compromise your elusive writer’s voice or correct imaginary speakers who may not be as well educated as moi.

The Grammar Queen is here to ensure that when you do break the rules of grammar, you are not breaking the rules that truly matter.

What might those be? you may ask. (Notice correct placement of question mark.)

It shall be my greatest pleasure to enlighten you on a select few of my personal favorites. (Any reference to real people, alive or dead, is purely coincidental and is not necessarily to be construed as fact.)

1. Do not dangle your modifiers.

No, no, no, I am not referring to your overly long beaded necklace that is dragging through your soup. Let me offer some examples.
Incorrect: While feeding the rooster, Ruthy’s new shoes became soiled with chicken poop.
Correct: While feeding the rooster, Ruthy soiled her new shoes with chicken poop.

Incorrect: After searching the house, Mary’s manuscript turned up next to her computer.
Correct: After searching the house, Mary found her manuscript next to her computer.
The point here is that the phrase that begins each of these sentences modifies the subject of the sentence. Ruthy’s shoes obviously were not feeding the rooster, and Mary’s manuscript was not searching the house. Need I say more?

2. Do not confuse possessives with plurals.

Possessives indicate possession. Plurals imply more than one. How much simpler can it be? One of the Grammar Queen’s greatest annoyances is coming upon one of those darling little carved wooden signs indicating ownership of a cabin, boat dock, or some other such charming property. Perhaps you have seen them:

The Dean’s

Welcome to the Tippens’ Cabin

Janet simply needs a sign that states this lovely home is where the Deans live. No need for the possessive form. Therefore the sign should read:

The Deans

As for Missy, she should have informed her sign maker that her sign should read:

Welcome to the Tippenses’ Cabin

Yes, yes, I know the “es” attached to Tippens seems like too much . . . something or other. But trust me, this is the correct way to imply that the entire Tippens family, not just Missy, owns the cabin (unless she spent some of her advance money without telling her husband).

It would also be correct to say:

Welcome to the Tippens Cabin

Here, “Tippens” is simply used as an adjective modifying “Cabin,” so again, the possessive form is not necessary.

Unfortunately, the Grammar Queen could go on and on ad infinitum on the subject of grammatically incorrect wooden signs because she has seen far more in one lifetime than any true grammar aficionado can abide. So we must move on.

3. Do not forget who is calling whom.

Now we come to the eternal who versus whom debate. “Who” is a nominative case pronoun; “whom” is a subjective case pronoun. But what you call them is not nearly as important as how you use them. To simplify, “who” performs the action of the verb; “whom” receives the action of the verb (or in other uses becomes the object of a preposition, which is a subject unto itself).

Even in my tricky little sentence above, “who” is still performing the act of calling “whom,” even though here “who” follows the verb “forget.” Any questions?

Lest we decide the Grammar Queen is becoming slightly too picky, please remember that in naturally written speech (or even in deep POV narration), it is usually perfectly acceptable for your more casual and/or less educated characters to use “who” willy-nilly when perhaps correctly they should really be saying “whom.”

On the other hand, using “whom” incorrectly usually makes even the most intelligent among us appear quite pretentious if not scathingly illiterate.

4. “I wonder” is a statement, not a question, and therefore requires a period, not a question mark.
Incorrect: I wonder where I put my glasses?
Correct: I wonder where I put my glasses.
Or in dialogue, use a comma:
“I wonder where I put my glasses,” Sandra mused.
There are certain variations of “I wonder” phrasing where different punctuation might be required, but the Grammar Queen is already tired of this subject and suggests you invest in a helpful grammar reference book such as Grammatically Correct, by Anne Stilman.

5. In a compound sentence the comma is placed before the conjunction (and, but, or), not after the conjunction.
Incorrect: Debby writes for Love Inspired Suspense but, Cara writes for Thomas Nelson.
Correct: Debby writes for Love Inspired Suspense, but Cara writes for Thomas Nelson.

Incorrect: Camy writes 500-page novels, but Julie’s books can be read in less than a day.
Oops, that has nothing to do with grammar! Moving along . . .

6. Do not restrict your nonrestrictive descriptors, and vice versa.

Let us begin by explaining the difference between restrictive and nonrestrictive. A restrictive descriptor is essential to the meaning of the sentence, whereas a nonrestrictive descriptor, if removed from the sentence, would not affect the meaning. Nonrestrictive descriptors are set off by commas; restrictive descriptors are not.

Are we clear on this? Perhaps more examples are in order. What is wrong with the following sentence?
Audra’s friend, Tina, is a multiple Golden Heart finalist.
Think . . . think . . .

Alas, if we take this statement as true, it means poor Audra has only one friend, the tireless and loyal Tina. But of course, we know Audra has many, many friends. Thus the sentence should have no commas:
Audra’s friend Tina is a multiple Golden Heart finalist.
The same is true when mentioning a spouse:
Incorrect: One day Myra hopes to meet Pam’s husband Orlando [name changed to protect the innocent].
We know for a fact that Pam is not a bigamist, which means we must insert a comma in the above sentence so that it reads:
One day Myra hopes to meet Pam’s husband, Orlando.
And one more example, this time regarding restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses:
Incorrect: The avid fan, who accosted Glynna at her book signing, was quickly wrestled to the ground by Cheryl.
It should be clear to anyone who has read Glynna’s books that she has more than one avid fan. Therefore the sentence above should contain no commas.
Correct: The avid fan who accosted Glynna at her book signing was quickly wrestled to the ground by Cheryl.
We could spend hours and hours discussing the Grammar Queen’s pet peeves, but then we would have no time to enjoy today’s sumptuous breakfast buffet. Feel free to nibble on the mixed berry crepes, eggs Florentine, and buttermilk spice muffins while you chat amongst yourselves about any and all grammatical concerns.

As added incentive for our many wonderful and chatty Seekerville friends, Grammar Queen is delighted to offer a fortunate commenter his or her very own copy of Grammatically Correct, which I encourage you to use with abandon.

Also, should you have any questions for the Grammar Queen, feel free to post them in your comments. Grammar Queen is never far from her Chicago Manual of Style and innumerable other grammar reference books.


Helen Gray said...

Awhile back I won "Grammar Girl's Quick and dirty Tiups for Better Writing' here on the blog. It's a nice reference.

Coffee timer is set for 4 a.m.


Ausjenny said...

you know what is interesting in australia they no longer worry about grammar in high school Years 8 - 12
as most use the computer and it corrects the spelling and grammar which is really stupid. Grammar is still very important.

Ruth Ann Dell said...

Thank you for an interesting blog.

Please would you comment on
the main differences between American and British dialogue punctuation?

Best wishes

Ruth Ann

Dianna Shuford said...

Totally loved your post today, Grammar Queen. Speaking as an English teacher of course. With my crit partners I have become the unofficial grammar corrector and the teacher in me has to explain why something is wrong everytime I fix it. I can't help it. Incorrect grammar drives me crazy.

Now, that's not saying I don't make mistakes. The old adage "can't see what's right in front of you" holds true in this. It was very interesting the day I got back notes from them with grammar corrections because I'd been in a hurry and hadn't been able to proof before I sent it out.

Thanks for the muffins and eggs. Great morning food. I'm off to instruct teenage minds that usually don't want to be instructed. Always makes for an interesting day.


Jessica Nelson said...

Hahahaaaa! This is hilarious! You're the best grammar teacher ever! :-)

Gwen Stewart said...

What a fun and helpful post! I rely heavily on my musical "ear" for grammar. It often works, which is why I think reading a MS aloud is helpful. But it sometimes fails me, especially in the case of dangling modifiers.

I try not to be a grammar snob, but I must say that misplaced apostrophes drive me NUTS. "Shoe's for sale". No! LOL My husband sometimes urges me to pipe down in public with the apostrophe comments. Ha!

Kav said...

Okay I'm officially too scared to insert any punctuation now so this is going to be a runon sentence which is going to tick off the Grammar Queen no end but I was bound to do it anyway so really what's the difference and just so you all know I was traumatized by an evil grammar tyrant er teacher in grade school and just the mention of things like modifiers turns me into a babbling idiot

mary bailey said...

Grammar is so important. It bugs me to no end when my son brings home notes and newsletters home from school that are poorly written. I'm not complaining, though, because I don't want to be handed the job of editing!

I could really use this reference book to sit here on my desk alongside the dictionary and thesaurus that I did into daily!


Julie Hilton Steele said...

My worst downfall is commas. My best grammar lesson learned was about using "that" or its overuse and misuse.

Okay, now I am getting paranoid about my comment.

Another wonderful book is Eats, Shoots, and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss.

Thanks for the great info. My motto is "If the spell checker doesn't catch everything, why would you think the grammar checker would?"

Peace, Julie

Sandra Leesmith said...

Myra, Myra, Myra. How funny and terrific is this post.

You all must know that Myra has found many of these same errors in my manuscripts. yikes. I'm always getting the who and whom issue confused so hopefully your great illustrations will help.

And Dianna I was a Language Arts teacher. yikes again. But as Dianna pointed out, we don't see our own mistakes.

My question for the Grammar Queen is the use of lay and lie. I actually refuse to use these words in my writing because I never know which one to use. I'm so embarrassed. Can you help me?

And the buffet is yummy. Thanks.

Janet Dean said...

Excellent post, Myra! Loads of important information presented in an entertaining way.

Please give the final word on which of the following is correct:

Julie knew Myra was as good at piping initials on twice baked potatoes as she.

Julie knew Myra was as good at piping initials on twice baked potatoes as her.

I've seen it both ways, but to me the sentence should end in she since was could be added.

I bow to your expertise, Miss Grammar Queen.

Breakfast is divine. Who knew Grammar Queens could cook? Notice I did not wonder, which imo isn't as deep of POV.


Melanie Dickerson said...

I learned something! YAY! Thank you, Grammar Queen. So glad I now know not to restrict my nonrestrictive descriptors. And Amazon is finally allowing people to post reviews of The Healer's Apprentice. Not that that has anything to do with grammar, but I just wanted to share that!!! :-)

Patty said...

Enlightening post! I use to think I had grammar whipped, but I became a writer and realized how much I didn't know. Thanks, Grammar Queen!

Patty Smith Hall

Debra E. Marvin said...

I admit to changing a sentence around rather than determine the correct way to use lie, lay, laid. Every time I'm sure I've gotten it straight, a contest judge or critique partner (like they're an expert, eh?) will switch it.

I'm not lying.
Any simple tricks, Grammar Queen?

Patsy said...

This would be a great resource for writing! Have to check it out.

Cindy said...

What a wonderful post. I have so much to learn and re-learn.


Kimberly said...

This is great! I adore commas, but they're so finicky. It's nice to get some more guidance on when they fit well.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Myra, I would have sworn this was TEEEEEENA but it wasn't her day.

Oh my stars, so fun. And we break so many rules that it's structurally ridiculous, but fun, nonetheless.

Are my commas correct?


Mixed berries.... Oh, those waffles.

I'm starving.

And eating on the run, but loving this.

I'm bringing back home-made apple fry pies later. Teaching my younguns a new trick, a new/old tradition, very German.

And my Celtic self will not rebel because frosted fry pies are to die for.

And not Atkins-friendly.

But this once.... ;)

And my theory about grammar quirks:

An editor will dice it the way he/she wants it so do your best and go for the gold.

Cara Lynn James said...

Great blog, Myra! I never know where to insert commas. Sometimes I include lots of them and sometimes I write comma free. I'd make a terrible editor.

Julie Lessman said...

OMIGOSH, Myra, I would have BET my next royalty check (such as it is), that this post was written by Tina!!!! I'd forgotten how very droll (and smart alecky) you can be when you want to, you little brat.

Case in point: Incorrect: Camy writes 500-page novels, but Julie’s books can be read in less than a day.

I repeat: "brat"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And you nailed me on this one (Welcome to the Tippenses’ Cabin) because I would have made the possessive of Tippens to be Tippens'!!

And this? I would have said it like so: I wonder where I put my glasses?

On this last one I'm not even sure you're right because I always thought if Pam only has one husband, then there would be no commas, so I thought this would be correct: One day Myra hopes to meet Pam’s husband Orlando.

Either way, EXCELLENT POST, girl -- I'm printing it off!!

AND thanking God for copy editors ... :)


Gina Welborn said...

Nice, Myra!

Could you give us a heads up on hyphenated words? When to and when not to?

Should it be...

twice baked potatoes?


twice-baked potatoes?

Gina who read the first 134 pages of Julie's UNDAUNTED in an hour, then finished the rest the next morning in two hours and fourteen minutes...and didn't skim.

(However, she did momentarily pause on page 423 to figure out why her 3-yr-old could confuse Julie with Lady Gaga. True story. Have FB status update to prove it.)

Which just goes to prove Myra's statement that Julie's books can be read in under a day. ;-)

Mary Connealy said...

Since you know where my manuscript is, any chance you can find my birthstone necklace?

I've been looking for it for months.

Mary Connealy said...

By the way, very funny post. And a little scary. I can almost feel that ruler cracking across my knuckles.

Mary Connealy said...

And this sentence RIGHT HERE:
whereas a nonrestrictive descriptor, if removed from the sentence, would not affect the meaning.


If ONLY English was taught in...English.

Mary Connealy said...

Lay, laid, lie, lying, lain

Any thoughts? I am useless with these and how many times I've I wrestled with a sentence such as...

She lay the baby in the crib.
She laid the baby in the crib. The baby was lying in the crib. The baby was laying in the crib.

Only, in the end, to just write the baby clean out of the book just to save my sanity.

Mary Connealy said...

Ruthy, how many times have I told you, "Preschoolers are not allowed to cook with the deep fryer."

That oughta be on a sign by your cabin.

Mary Connealy said...

Debra can't do lie, lay, laid, neither. And she looks really SMART in her picture.

I also have a comma problem. I use twice as many as I should, all in the wrong places.

Hard on editors, I'm sure.

Missy Tippens said...

Myra! Wow! Very, very helpful. And just in time. I marked a couple of changes on my edits--and I changed them incorrectly! The editor was right.

Well, duh. I should have known. LOL

PatriciaW said...

The funny thing about grammar is that even though we all learned it in school, we are always learning it over and over again.

The nonrestrictive thing was great. I definitely get that wrong.

And those Tippenses...

Mary, you're not the only with a lay/lie problem.

Best thing is to have a handy reference like yours.

Missy Tippens said...

ROFL, Kav!! I like your idea. Just leave out all punctuation, and you can't go wrong! :)

Kelly Freestone said...

LOVED the post!

I can't believe how much I've forgotten in the (ahem!) so few years since I've graduated.

This was so much fun.
I had to reread most of the sentances becuase they were so funny the first time around.

And I'm VERY grateful for the breakfast!

Sadly, after I heard the beep, I realized my delicisous, very healthy bowl of oatmeal bubbled over onto the microwave floor.

HAHA! Sorry, I coudln't help myself :D

But seriously, I'm starving...


Missy Tippens said...

My hubby is the Grammar King. But there's one I always catch him on (and rub it in!): the lie, lay thing.

Lay is when you're putting something down. Lie is when you'd doing the lying down.

Okay, Queen Myra, I hope I got that right!

Niki Turner said...

Ouch. The deeper I dig into grammar the more convinced I am that I don't know anything. How did I get straight A's in English all the way through school without learning this stuff? Is it because my teachers didn't know it either? *sigh*

Mary Connealy said...

Okay, I googled Grammar Usage lay
And found a site called
Just to PROVE how hard Lie, lay, lain, laid, lying...is
here is the QUICK AND DIRTY grammar tips for lay usage(God save us if they ever go into detail):

Lay Versus Lie
First, we'll do the easy part, which is the present tense...
If you exclude the meaning "to tell an untruth" and just focus on the setting/reclining meaning of lay and lie, then the important distinction is that lay requires a direct object and lie does not. So you lie down on the sofa (no direct object), but you lay the book down on the table (the book is the direct object).

This is in the present tense, where you are talking about doing something now: you lie down on the sofa, and you lay down a book.

There are a bunch of ways to remember this part.
How to Remember the Difference
The way I remember is to think of the phrase lay it on me. You're laying something (it, the direct object) on me. It's a catchy, dorky, 1970s kind of phrase, so I can remember it and remember that it is correct.

What's that I hear, music in the background? I know I don't normally play music, but I love Eric Clapton, and his song Lay Down Sally can actually help you remember the difference between lay and lie... [record screeching sound] because he's wrong.

To say “lay down Sally” would imply that someone should grab Sally and lay her down. If he wanted Sally to rest in his arms on her own, the correct line would be “lie down Sally.”
It's pretty easy; you lay something down, and people lie down by themselves.
We don't have to judge Clapton on his grammar; we can still love his music and at the same time know that it's grammatically incorrect! In fact, that helps us remember, and we can love him more.

If you're more of a Bob Dylan fan, you can remember that "Lay Lady Lay" is also wrong. The lyrics should be “Lie lady lie, lie across my big brass bed.”

OK, so that was the present tense. It's pretty easy; you lay something down, people lie down by themselves, and Eric Clapton can help us remember.
Lay Versus Lie in the Past Tense
But then everything goes all haywire, because lay is the past tense of lie. It's a total nightmare! I tried and tried to come up with a mnemonic for this, but I couldn't do it. Instead, I've made a table that you can print out from the website and tape up over your desk or in your notebook, because you just have to memorize this or look it up every time.

How to Conjugate Lay and Lie
Here's how to conjugate these two verbs:

The past tense of lie is lay, so

Last week, Steve lay down on the floor.
The cat lay in the mud after it rained yesterday.

The past tense of lay is laid, so

Last week, I laid the TPS report on your desk.
Mary forcefully laid her ring on the table.

The past participle of lie is lain, so

Steve has lain on the floor for days.
The cat has lain in the mud for hours.

The past participle of lay is laid, so

I have laid the TPS report on your desk.
Mary has forcefully laid her ring on the table.

Don't feel bad if you can't remember these right away. Practice will help, and truthfully, I still have to look them up every time I use them. It's just important to know what you know, and what you don't know, and to go to the trouble to look it up and get it right because these are hard-and-fast rules.

Mary Connealy said...

Don't forget that's the quick and dirty version.

Kirsten Arnold said...

I had a history professor who lectured for a week on grammar after a student told him using its or it's was a matter of preference.

Great post, Myra, very funny!

Janet Kerr said...

Thank you for the great information Grammar Queen. We can never get enough grammar!

Kav said...

Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute!!!!!! (I'm getting brave and adding copious amounts of punctuation because that's just the way I talk). BUT isn't this a PG rated blog? If so, pray tell what is Mary Connealy doing talking about conjugal rights and how verbs 'do it'?

Mary said: "How to Conjugate Lay and Lie
Here's how to conjugate these two verbs:"

I couldn't bring myself to read any more. This just proves to me how dangerous a thing grammar is. It should be banned. The next thing you know we'll have nouns getting frisky and then there'll be little pronouns running about everywhere! Egads!!!!!!

The Grammar Queen said...

Ausjenny. Grammar Queen is simply appalled. Computers are not infallible.

For example, when checking spelling, they cannot differentiate between "there," "their," and "they're."

I am so glad you agree that grammar is still important! A+!!!

The Grammar Queen said...

Please pardon Grammar Queen for being late to class this morning, but as it is only a few days before the ACFW conference, I have had quite a few errands to run on behalf of my dear and grammatically erudite friend Myra. (Notice no comma before "Myra," because as you may have guessed, she is not my only friend).

And I am so glad to see all of you busily discussing important grammatical issues in my absence. I will respond to your questions in as timely a manner as possible

The Grammar Queen said...

Alas, Grammar Queen was typing too quickly and omitted the period at the end of my last sentence. A thousand pardons!!!

The Grammar Queen said...

Ruth Ann, thank you for noticing that, yes, there is a slight difference in American and British punctuation. Not that Grammar Queen claims expertise in British grammar, but I can tell you that in American usage we now always place commas and periods inside quotation marks.

The Grammar Queen said...

Yes, Gwen, apostrophe errors are the bane of a true grammar fanatic's existence. Meet me at the library and we'll commiserate over margaritas.

The Grammar Queen said...

Kav, I am deeply sorry about your unfortunate encounter with a grammar tyrant. I assure you we are not all so unforgiving.

Now hold out your hand, please. I promise this won't hurt a bit . . .

The Grammar Queen said...

Mary Bailey, Myra has told me often of exactly that same problem when her children were in school. You would think teachers would have to pass basic English exams in order to be licensed, now, wouldn't you?

The Grammar Queen said...

Janet, you are absolutely correct. The sentence (although Grammar Queen would hyphenate "twice-baked") should read:

Julie knew Myra was as good at piping initials on twice-baked potatoes as she.

Although I have never in all my years known Myra to pipe initials on twice-baked potatoes. In fact, I don't believe I have ever seen her bake potatoes more than once.

The Grammar Queen said...

Melanie, Grammar Queen forgives you for blatant self-promotion. You have every reason to celebrate this exciting occasion, and Grammar Queen wishes you much success!

The Grammar Queen said...

Julie! How dare you question the authority of Grammar Queen!!!

Of course I AM RIGHT!!! I am ALWAYS RIGHT!!!

See now what you have done. You have forced me to resort to multiple exclamation points.

The Grammar Queen said...

All I can say, Gina, is that you must be a very fast reader.

However, it goes without saying that Julie is an excellent storyteller, so I am not surprised that you were enthralled enough to read A Hope Undaunted so quickly. Myra was engrossed in it this morning as I sat with her at the allergy doctor's office.

The Grammar Queen said...

Reading through the questions and comments about the "lie vs. lay" dilemma, I see Mary has found the penultimate explanation.

To put it most simply, just remember that "lie" can stand alone. (Or lie down, as the case may be.)

"Lay" requires an object to be lain down.

"Lain" is the past tense of "lie."

"Laid" is the past tense of "lay."

The Grammar Queen said...

Shame, shame, and fie upon it all!

Grammar Queen mistyped!

"Lay" requires an object to be LAID down!

Only more evidence of the confusing nature of these two verbs.

Grammar Queen is now crawling behind her chalkboard.

connie said...

Oh, I have a headache.

I have such a hard time w/grammar.
I write like I talk, which isn't correct.

I hate to ask this question, but it was Seekerville made me notice it.
Ya'll spell "y'all".
I'm from Texas and everyone I know spells it ya'll.
If I spelled it my way in my manuscript, would it bug you?

One more;
Is "alright" a word? I was told by a contest judge it is "all right" everytime.

Connie Queen

bcountryqueen6 at msn dot com

Kelly Freestone said...

that's because Northerners say it like it should be said, lol
They say "You all" and the ' goes where the letters are missing...
Did I get that one right?!
I'll cross my fingers...
however, being from the South, I spell it yall.

It's a word, not a....a...put together one. :)

connie said...

Kelly, you may be right.

I remember in high school we had a girl move down from Michigan. She was the first person I ever heard say "you guys." Everyone in my class got a good kick out that. I think Northerns really use ya'll in the place of you all.

Go figure.

I brought up this subject at my last local RWA meeting and we had a good time discussing the different ways.

We also talked about the real important question as to why right-handed people eat w/the fork in their right hand, but then switch hands to cut w/their knife. (I'm left handed and my fork stays in my left for the duration of the meal.)

Sorry, I got off subject.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

You know that whole Tippenses'/Tippens' debate?

The editors changed Brooks' to Brooks's

I changed it back a gazillion times. We always learned that the phonetic sound of adding the 's or just the ' was more important than following rules.

So I broke the rules because "Brooks's apartment" "Brooks's dog" "Brooks's attitude" just sounded ridiculous.

And they kept it my way which made me very happy.

Right or wrong, if it sounds rough, or goofy, then I opt for not goofy every time.

The Grammar Queen said...

Connie, Kelly is correct in this instance. In a contraction, the apostrophe indicates the position of dropped letters. Therefore:

Y'all = you all.

The "ou" has been omitted.

The Grammar Queen said...

Yes, Ruthy, you broke the rules, you naughty, naughty girl.

I am now looking at p. 282 in my Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, section 7.18. The following examples are among those given as the correct form:

Kansas's legislature
Strauss's Vienna
Burns's poem
the Williamses' new house

connie said...

Thanks Grammar Queen.

It will take a whopping conscious effort to change the misspelling.

Carol J. Garvin said...

I need the Grammar Queen in my tool box. But (oops, started a sentence incorrectly) I have a problem with "Audra’s friend, Tina, is a multiple Golden Heart finalist" being incorrect. What if Audra really does have only one friend? And (oops, I've done it again) what if the reader has no idea how many friends Audra has? Doesn't the name offer a description of the word preceding it and thus should be separated by commas? Now I'm confused beyond all reason. ;)

And, Mary, that, down, and, dirty, clip, did, me, in!

The Grammar Queen said...

Carol, dear, one would assume if one were writing about a poor, mistreated, nearly friendless woman that this would be made quite clear by plot events. Thus, when you wrote about Audra's friend [no commas] Tina, the reader would weep in deepest sympathy.

Grammar Queen has no idea what the rest of your comment was all about!

Mary Connealy said...

Wow, Kav. You're the first person EVER to see just how sexy grammar can be.

I may learn to enjoy it more now. Thanks.

Mary Connealy said...

Connie, my advice on y'all is, pick one and stick with it.

I always abbreviated until as 'til.
Barbour's style is to change until to till.
It's just their own way. So I learned that.

But my editor said when in doubt...we were talking about either mustache/moustache or blonde/blond I can't remember which...he said just pick one and stick with it. It's not a big enough mistake to not get a manuscript published by an acquiring editor and if the publishers style is one over the other they can quickly use Find and Replace to convert them to their own style.

Mary Connealy said...

In his book On Writing~a Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King said though it is INCORRECT, in a book, they always add an S after an apostrophe to pluralize a name ending in S.

Ex: Jesus's. That's just the way they do it in books. Or maybe in only novels.
I can't remember WHY, I just remember hims saying that and I try to remember it.

p.s. Stephen King's On Writing is the only How To book on writing I've ever read. And I read it very late, after I'd gotten a book published.
I suppose that's why it took me ten years, huh???

Mary Connealy said...

Also, that's the only thing I remember from On Writing, except man oh man did Stephen King have a bizaare childhood.

Which might explain everything.

And he got $450,000 for the paperback rights to Carrie a year after he sold it for $2500 hardcover.

Now I wonder why I remember that???

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I LOVE breaking rules.

And isn't that book about butt-zillion years old?

Or more?

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Okay, I break rules, but I brought the fry pies.

Think Amish.

And way better than those lunch-box concoctions you buy in grocery stores.

Oh mylanta, there are apple, cherry and grape.

Yes, grape. Big wine/vineyard country up here around the Finger Lakes.

I tried peach but they came out too runny. So sad.

Whipped cream to your left and a fresh sweet tea/coffee set up is being wheeled in right now by the Ladies' Guild of Holy Name Church in Allegany County. Great group of gals. ;)

Carol J. Garvin said...

Indeed, you are the Queen of Grammar. LOL. I'll have to keep that example in mind. I hope Audra has a gazillion friends.

The Grammar Queen said...

Ms. Herne. Such language!

Excuse me, but the 15th edition of CMS is dated 2003. All right (yes, "all right" is correct; "alright" is unfortunately gaining ground as acceptable, much to Grammar Queen's dismay), 2003 was seven years ago, but seven is not even close to--how did you put it--butt-zillion? Not to mention CMS is the standard upon which all copy editors worth their salary rely.

The Grammar Queen said...

When Grammar Queen is paid $450,000 for a book, I shall be delighted to flagrantly abuse grammar to my heart's content!

And I ain't jes' whistlin' Dixie, y'all!

Mary Connealy said...

Ruthy, as long as the fried pies keep coming, you can break all the rules you want.

It's not fair, but man oh man, fried pies.

Debby Giusti said...

Is anyone having trouble with blogger today? My comments are going out into Cyber Space, never to be seen again.

Such a great post, Ms. Grammar Queen. I'm impressed.

Had to read the restrictive and nonrestrictive descriptor info three times.

I confess to often placing commas around who clauses that shouldn't be thus punctuated. Shame on me. Thanks so much for setting me straight!

Myra Johnson said...

Good afternoon, everyone! I've been so busy running errands and packing for ACFW that this is my first chance to check in.

I see Grammar Queen is being her usual nitpicky self. Please forgive her--she really can't help it. I'm only nice to her because I don't like having my knuckles rapped.

Anyone up for an afternoon snack? How about popcorn and Diet Caffeine-free Dr Pepper? Sorry, that's the best I have to offer one day before I leave for ACFW.

Hope I'm going to see a whole bunch of you there!

Mary Connealy said...

Ahem...nitpicky...that's a G-Rated word for what the Grammar Queen is being................

Janet Dean said...

Grammar Queen said I was right!!! That makes me teacher's pet!! Yay!!!

I flushed at forgetting the hyphen in twice-baked potatoes and understand piping intials onto food is a little over the top, but how can Myra hold up her head when she'd made baked potatoes only ONCE?


Myra Johnson said...

No, Janet, Grammar Queen meant that when I DO bake potatoes, once is enough. Twice-baked is just way too Martha Stewart for me.

Actually, I can't remember the last time I baked a potato. Microwaved, yes. Ordered one at a restaurant, yes. Heated oven fries straight from the freezer, yes.

Ausjenny said...

Oh I fully agree about grammar as I am doing complex documents and they say grammar is important. Also computers do not pick up errors like favorite being incorrect for an aussie it should be favourite. Also I find I will put the instead of they, them, then and its not picked up.
Employers are appalled at the lack of spelling and grammar when it comes to job applications etc.
If I had been at school now I would have gotten better results using a spell check and the fact it was typed not hand written. My hand writing is really bad so would lose points for it.

Kerri C at CK Farm said...

Great grammar lesson and great example sentences lol ;)

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Dear Grammar Queen,

I apologize for my late entry. I have been making chili.

It is a pleasure to welcome your majesty to Seekerville. (do I bow or curtsy or kiss your ring?)

Thank you for these invaluable tips.

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Ruth Ann, I have been told that the English say towards and forwards as opposed to we Yanks who say toward and forward.

Is this correct?

Digging for Pearls said...

Sounds like a great writing resource for those of us who are a bit grammar challenged from time to time! :)

Wait, was that written grammatically correct?

Jodie Wolfe

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

I'm not sure if I should be insulted or honored to be considered Myra's twin brat.


Surely Grammar Queen is related to Marlena Fortune.

Karen Lange said...

Thank you for this post. Poor grammar seems to abound. I am constantly refreshing my skills to make sure that I get it right. We're always learning...

The Grammar Queen said...

Tina, so delighted you were able to pop in. Yes, yes, Marlena and I are so very close. You see her much more often than I do. How is the dear lady these days?

Oh, my, you have caused Grammar Queen to blush. Kiss my ring? My, but that would be awkward, wouldn't it? One can never be too cautious during flu season, can one? "Your majesty" will do perfectly fine, thank you.

The Grammar Queen said...

Kerri, Jodie, and Karen, it pleases Grammar Queen to no end that you have dedicated yourselves to the pursuit of proper grammar. It is my lifelong quest to spread subject/verb agreement, proper use of apostrophes, and perfect punctuation wherever I go.

KC Frantzen said...

This was WAY fun and full of learnin' too! Thanks GQ!!

Julie Lessman said...


"Gina who read the first 134 pages of Julie's UNDAUNTED in an hour, then finished the rest the next morning in two hours and fourteen minutes...and didn't skim."


I am stunned speechless (not easy to do, so congrats again ...)


Julie Lessman said...

MYRA ... er ... Miss Grammar Queen ... I defer to your greatness and humbly bow before your grammar throne!


Anne Baxter said...

Yes, please, enter my name in the drawing for "Grammatically Correct," (I know the book title should be in italics, but don't know how to make this blog posting do that).
Ausjenny--agree that not teaching grammar and spelling is a grave error (sometimes fatal...). Grammatic and Spellcheck don't catch everything, plus they "catch" some things that aren't errors.
AnneB1944 at aol dot com

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Forgot to say that I LOLd at the wrestling statement. HOO-Ra!

Love your sense of humor, Vanetta!


Seekerville Bodyguard

Cheryl Wyatt said...

I LOLd at the wrestling statement. HOO-Ra!

Love your sense of humor!


Seekerville Bodyguard