Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The (Dreaded) Return of Grammar Queen


Good morning, class. Yes, it is moi, and welcome to Grammar 101, Seekerville style. If you are a new student who has not yet been introduced to my royal highness, I am affectionately known in Seekerville as The Grammar Queen.  

Many of you may already be diligently at work revising your Speedbo manuscripts. So that I may assist you in your endeavors, allow me to review some of my most annoying pet peeves.

Before we begin, however, let me remind you that Grammar Queen is not here to compromise your elusive writer’s voice but to ensure that when you as the writer do break the rules of grammar, you do so with full knowledge of the whys and wherefores by which you deign to dally with these long-accepted rules.

(As always, any reference to real people in the examples given below is purely coincidental and is not necessarily to be construed as fact.)

Ready to take notes? Then let us begin.

1.  Never, under any circumstances, should you dangle your modifiers.

A modifier is a word or phrase that restricts or adds clarification to the noun with which it is associated—precisely why it should not be left dangling far afield from said noun.

Incorrect: While saving her manuscript, the cat walked across Tina’s keyboard and accidentally hit the delete key.
Correct: While saving her manuscript, Tina gasped when her cat walked across the keyboard and accidentally hit the delete key.

Incorrect: Bringing in the groceries, a mouse ran across Mary’s foot, causing her to scream.
Correct: Bringing in the groceries, Mary screamed when a mouse ran across her foot.

The opening participle phrase in sentences such as these modifies the noun in closest proximity, which is rightly the subject of the sentence. BUT—Tina’s cat obviously was not saving Tina’s manuscript, and the mouse was most certainly not bringing in Mary’s groceries. My dears, can you see the misunderstandings such errors can cause? So do not do this. Ever!

2.  Do not confuse possessives with plurals.


Possessives indicate possession. Plurals imply more than one. So let us begin by addressing the problems of . . . 

its versus it’s
your versus you’re

This concept is so ridiculously simple that I am getting a headache even mentioning it.

Its and your (no apostrophe) are possessive pronouns, used in the same manner as his or her or their

On the other hand: 

it’s = it is
you’re = you are

On a related issue, as I have stated time and again, it annoys me to no end when I come across incorrectly formed plurals and misused apostrophes in signage. Perhaps you have seen them:

The Lessman’s

Welcome to the Harders’ Ranch

Julie simply needs a sign that states this lovely lake house is where the Lessmans live (notice my artful use of alliteration). The name here should be plural, not possessive: 

The Lessmans

As for Audra, her sign should read:

Welcome to the Harderses’ Ranch  

Yes, yes, I know the “es” attached to Harders seems like too much . . . something or other. But I assure you, this is the correct way to imply that the entire Harders family, not just Audra, owns the ranch. 

It would also be correct to say:

Welcome to the Harders Ranch

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

Enough said.


3.  Always remember who is calling whom.


Now we come to the eternal who versus whom debate. “Who” is a subjective case pronoun; “whom” is an objective 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 becomes the object of a preposition, which is a subject unto itself).

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

Lest we decide Grammar Queen is being entirely too uncompromising concerning this topic, I will concede that in naturally written speech (or even in deep POV narration), it is often 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 makes even the most intelligent among us appear quite pretentious if not scathingly illiterate.

(And please do not race to any conclusions or let this go beyond the walls of our classroom, but I recently came upon a rumor that the word whom may eventually fall out of use entirely. Alas, it breaks my grammatically correct heart!)

Here is another sticky wicket involving pronoun usage. When using pronouns as part of compound sentence subjects or compound objects of a transitive verb or preposition, be sure to use the correct case.

Incorrect: Tina and me are going to the conference together.
Correct: Tina and I are going to the conference together.

Incorrect: There will be a table at the book signing for Janet and she.
Correct: There will be a table at the book signing for Janet and her.

And please, please, please! Deliver me from the dreaded “for you and I.” 

Oh, the agony! Someone pass the smelling salts—quickly!

Thank you, thank you. I’m feeling much better now. Let us continue. . . .

4.  In a compound sentence the comma is placed before the conjunction (and, but, or), not after the conjunction.

Incorrect: Ruthy writes for Love Inspired but, Debby writes for Love Inspired Suspense.
Correct: Ruthy writes for Love Inspired, but Debby writes for Love Inspired Suspense.

Really, does this need further explanation?

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

First, we must differentiate between restrictive and nonrestrictive. A restrictive descriptor is essential to the meaning of the sentence (that means you need the information, my dears), whereas a nonrestrictive descriptor, if removed from the sentence, would not affect the meaning (that means you do not need this extra information). 

Therefore, nonrestrictive (unessential) descriptors ARE set off by commas; restrictive descriptors (essential for identification) are not.

Are we clear on this? Perhaps more examples are in order.

Incorrect: Janet met her friend, Missy, for lunch on her way through town.
Correct: Janet met her friend Missy for lunch on her way through town.

Alas, if the first statement were true, it would mean poor Janet has only one friend, the tireless and loyal Missy. But of course, we know Janet has many, many friends. Thus the sentence should have no commas.

The same is true when mentioning a spouse:

Incorrect: One day Myra hopes to meet Sandra’s husband Engelbert. [name changed to protect the innocent] 
Correct: One day Myra hopes to meet Sandra’s husband, Engelbert.

We know for a fact that Sandra is not a bigamist, which means the comma becomes necessary.

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 Cara.
Correct: The avid fan who accosted Glynna at her book signing was quickly wrestled to the ground by Cara.

It should be clear to anyone who has read Glynna’s books that she has more than one avid fan. Therefore the first sentence should contain no commas.


6.  Lying is a sin, especially when you really intended to lay something down.


Incorrect: Lay down and rest for a bit.
Correct: Lie down and rest for a bit.

Incorrect: A happy future lays ahead for the plucky hero and heroine.
Correct: A happy future lies ahead for the plucky hero and heroine.

Incorrect: Cindy lay her book on the shelf.
Correct: Cindy laid her book on the shelf.

Incorrect: Patti Jo’s cat has laid on the porch for an hour.
Correct: Patti Jo’s cat has lain on the porch for an hour.

I wish there were some simple way of remembering how to properly use these two teensy but oh-so-complicated verbs. The primary difference is that lie is intransitive (not followed by a direct object) and lay is transitive (always takes a direct object). 

You lie on the bed. You lay the book down.

Past tense is actually where the complications set in, since lay is actually the past tense of lie, and lain is the past participle form (has lain, have lain).

The past AND past participle of lay is laid. 

I’m sorry, class, but you will simply have to study and memorize the lie/lay conjugations as best you can.


Pop Quiz Time!!

We could spend hours and hours discussing Grammar Queen’s pet peeves, and there are many! But now it is time to put your notes away and take out pencil and paper for a quiz. Using the lessons learned above, please find the errors in each sentence below—and be prepared to explain! You may report your answers in the comments.

  1. Walts’ experience with Kindle Scout turned out quite well.
  2. Missy invited everyone over to the Tippens’ new house for a backyard barbecue.
  3. Jackie suggested her and Patti Jo should make a peach pie together.
  4. “Its going to be a long day,” Ruthy whined.
  5. Reading the text message, Sally’s phone buzzed in her hand.
  6. Mary’s chicken laid in the nest for a long time before laying an egg.
  7. Who will Nancy take horseback riding with her?
  8. Jill, Jeanne, or whomever is available may help set up for the Seekerville picnic.
  9. Wilani exceeded her Speedbo goals and, she is already at work on her next manuscript.
  10. The book, that Vince most wanted to read, is now available on Amazon.

As added incentive for improving your grammar comprehension, a fortunate student may win his or her very own copy of a helpful book by another purveyor of grammatical correctness: Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. Myra has also generously contributed one of her books (winner's choice) to the giveaway. If you would like to be entered in either or both drawings, simply mention your interest in a comment.

In addition, should you have specific questions, feel free to ask away. Grammar Queen is never far from her Chicago Manual of Style and innumerable other grammar reference books.

Now, under pain of banishment (she wishes!), I am compelled to provide the following information concerning the brilliant, beautiful, and extremely talented author under whose aegis I am permitted to present these illuminating lectures. (Is that enough buttering up, my dear?) By the way, the author would be most grateful if you would BUY HER BOOKS and POST REVIEWS (nice ones, naturally). Your doing so will make her so much more pleasant to live with.

About my charming and delightful companion, without whom I would be utterly lost (which is to say I would not exist at all): Award-winning author Myra Johnson writes emotionally gripping stories about love, life, and faith. Thanks in part to Grammar Queen’s invaluable assistance, Myra is a two-time finalist for the prestigious ACFW Carol Awards and winner of Christian Retailing’s Best for historical fiction. Originally from Texas but now residing in the beautiful Carolinas, Myra and her husband (and Grammar Queen) love the climate and scenery, but they may never get used to the pulled pork Carolinians call “barbecue”! The Johnsons share their home with two very pampered doggies who don’t always understand the meaning of “Mom’s trying to write.” They’re also currently harboring their younger daughter and family (six in all plus a kitty!) as they transition toward their next missionary calling. With grandkids underfoot ranging in age from 14 down to 3, there’s never a dull moment! 

Twitter: @MyraJohnson and @TheGrammarQueen (that would be moi)

Sign up to receive Myra’s quarterly e-news updates here!

274 comments :

  1. Do not restrict your nonrestrictive descriptors

    Oh Now You're Just Messin' With Us!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've hesitated to ask Grammar Queen but I am writing a book with a villain who's a back shooting coward.

    Which is correct.
    He lays in wait
    or
    He lay in wait
    or
    He laid in wait
    or
    He lies in wait

    I think this is a sneaky subsection of the problem I have with lie, lay, lain, laid, leepin lizards.

    So it's fair to not know

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The question is whether you are describing this action in past tense or present.

      He lay in wait (past).

      He lies in wait (present).

      And now I believe YOU are simply "messin'" with moi.

      Delete
    2. Well crap. I mean...oh, okay, now I know.
      There is a TENSE involved?
      WHO INVENTED THIS SICK SYSTEM????????

      Delete
    3. I assure you, it was not I.

      However, this "sick system" keeps me employed, so I shall not complain (too much).

      Delete
    4. So if you're writing in 3rd person, it would be he lay in wait, right?

      We have to keep these lessons simple, or at the very least, serve copious amounts of CHOCOLATE.....

      Delete
    5. He lay in wait, hoping the nefarious villain would accidentally drop the cache of chocolate from his saddlebag.

      Delete
  3. Myra that horror story you told about me and the mouse does not include that when that vicious little beast ran across my (shudder) foot!!! I screamed, dropped the groceries, including a glass jar of tomato juice, it landed on my foot (missing the wretched mouse of course, broke my toe and shattered, then, jumping and screaming, I cut my foot, staggered backward from the pain and fell down the open door to my basement, where I landed on a small propane torch, ignited it and burned the house down around my dead body.
    Yes, THIS is why I hate mice.
    They cause things like this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. PS everytime someone says to me, "What's the worst that can happen?"
      My reply is, "There is no situation which I can't picture ending in my slow, agonizing death. Anyone who can't is just lacking a vivid imagination."

      Delete
    2. Mary, has anyone ever told you that you should probably be a writer? I was just riveted by your mouse tale!

      Delete
    3. Mary, you are too funny. That was hilarious.

      Delete
    4. Allow me to interject here. You omitted a comma in the very first line of your comment, Mary, dear. Can you pinpoint your error?

      GQ will not bother to mention that you used three exclamation points where a comma should have been inserted in that same sentence.

      Delete
    5. Ah, yes, indeed. This comment could well be a grammar lesson in itself!

      Delete
    6. I know someone whose house burned down because they were jumping and screaming when they saw a rat and tripped over a can of gasoline and knocked over something...a shovel maybe, and it sparked.
      This person escaped (no doubt the stupid rat did too) but the fire department had to get involved.
      I can't remember if there was an explosion, because my vivid imagination may be doctoring up this story.
      Some fanatics might call this lying, I prefer to think of it as writing fiction with my mouth

      Delete
    7. Whatever soothes your conscience, my dear.

      [sigh]

      Delete
    8. Ok, Mary, I thought the rest of the story was true! Until I got to the end. So, were you dead before the house caught fire? Or did the fire cause your demise? And what happened to the mouse? Was he harmed in the making of this situation? After I realized this scenario wasn't true, I laughed so hard. That poor mouse caused all that commotion!

      Delete
    9. Sally obviously if I was dead, what happened was I shifted POV into third person omniscient.

      Delete
    10. Now, that time, I did laugh.

      ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha !!!!!!

      Delete
    11. 1. I am happy that the mouse who was living under my sink is now dead.
      2. I am happy that the smell of the dead mouse is gone before Easter celebrations this weekend.
      3. Any mouse who dares to trespass is given an automatic death sentence.
      4. I stand by sentence #3 in all regards.

      Delete
    12. I missed the shift! That explains it. Thank you, Mary! That's very cool!

      Delete
    13. And a grammatically correct list as well, Miss Ruthy.

      I pity the poor mouse who crosses your threshold.

      Delete
    14. Of one thing I'm sure: Mary is lying, not laying, if I dare call embellishment by such a negative word.

      Janet

      Delete
  4. This is exactly why I am not a writer....I'd completely butcher the English language! And I do well enough on my own, thank you ever so much. :-)

    Now I'm quietly slinking to my quiet corner with a good book and staying out of GQ's way.....she scares me *gulp*

    Please do add me for a Myra Johnson book of choice, I'm tossing chocolate at her to sweeten the other side of her personality (gulp)!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Trixi, Trixi, Trixi! Who told you that I am someone to be feared? GQ is your friend! GQ is kind and generous and tenderhearted!

      Alas, Myra is grateful for the chocolate, and I may even allow her a bite or two once I free her from the closet.

      Delete
    2. And Trixi, Grammar Queen is NOT scary and she will beat up anyone who says she is...just so you know to be careful.

      Delete
    3. (shh...she is scary. You know I don't lie, darling....)

      Delete
  5. Join the club Trixi! We all live in fear and awe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Honestly, you guys! GQ isn't as tough as she pretends to be.

      Delete
  6. I'm having a panic attack right now. Did the queen bring food to this fun party?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That, my dear, is the problem with you Seekervillagers. You tend to think more about goodies and treats than you do about learning proper grammar!

      But, to appease the masses, I shall send out for bagels, a fruit tray, and a variety of coffees and teas from Panera Bread. Will that satisfy you?

      Delete
    2. Where is the chocolate? Do I have to do everything????

      #notfair

      Delete
    3. There she goes again, inserting random hashtags.

      #nochocolateforyou

      Delete
    4. Food is a given, Grammar Queen. It's unAmerican to host without nourishment.

      Delete
    5. Janet, I think GQ assumed her lowly subjects would provide the buffet. She did call out for Panera, though.

      Yep, she's good at ordering.

      Delete
  7. When comforting a grammar Nazi, always say there, their, they're.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very funny. You can see how hard I am now laughing.

      Delete
    2. Please don't encourage her, Tina. I have to live with her!

      Delete
  8. Oh man, it's way too early to think about dangling modifiers. I shall return...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dangling modifiers always sounded a little bit dirty to me.

      Delete
    2. Wash out your brain with soap right this minute, Mary Connealy!

      Delete
    3. Um... I'm with Mary on this one. Also laughing hysterically right now as I type.

      Delete
    4. LOL! Watch out for the ruler GQ is waving, Mary.

      Janet

      Delete
  9. I'm printing this one out Grammar Queen!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, at long last, someone who appreciates me! Bless you, sweet Glynna!

      Delete
    2. However, you erred in omitting the comma before "Grammar Queen."

      Delete
    3. OH MY GOSH SHE'S EDITING OUR BLOG COMMENTS!

      Delete
    4. One must correct grammar at every opportunity.

      Think of it as a learning experience.

      Yes, try. Try very, very hard.

      Delete
  10. I need caffeine before I can tackle the homework. I'm pretty sure my dog will eat the answers before I can turn them in.

    Thanks for sharing GQ!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The coffee from Panera just arrived. Help yourself, my dear.

      Delete
  11. The easy way to remember the correct us of lie/lay is to avoid them altogether. or is that all together?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Debra, this week I looked up altogether and discovered we should write all together. Two words. I'm interested to see if GQ agrees. :)

      Delete
    2. Debra, the simple answers are so often the best.

      Delete
    3. Jackie, I've gotten so I write 'all right' instead of alright. Because for years Word tapped alright as a typo. But alright's gotta be a word.

      Delete
    4. altogether |ˌôltəˈgeT͟Hər|
      adverb
      completely; totally: I stopped seeing her altogether | [ as submodifier ] : I'm not altogether sure that I'd trust him.
      • including everything or everyone; in total: he had married several times and had forty-six children altogether.
      • [ sentence adverb ] taking everything into consideration; on the whole: altogether it was a great evening.

      Delete
    5. Yeah, Mary, I thought it was a word too. And then there's 'awright.' Many people in Kentucky say it with a w sound.

      Delete
    6. I'm in Virginia and love 'awright'!

      Delete
    7. That is certainly your prerogative, Sally.

      [rolling eyes]

      Delete
  12. I decided to try the first five.

    1. Walt’s experience with Kindle Scout turned out quite well.
    2. Missy invited everyone over to the Tippenses’ new house for a backyard barbecue.
    3. Jackie suggested she and Patti Jo should make a peach pie together.
    4. “It’s going to be a long day,” Ruthy whined.
    5. Sally’s phone buzzed in her hand while she read the text message.

    I gave up when I got to the chicken. I can't wait to see the correct answers.

    (I think #2 is a trick question with two possible answers.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well done, Jackie. There is still a problem with #4, however. See if you can spot it!

      Hint: This one is a trick question. ;)

      Ah, look, GQ has used an emoji!

      Delete
    2. Not sure what other grammar is wrong in sentence four, but I can't imagine Ruthy whining!

      Delete
    3. Now I'm really nervous.

      It's going to be a long day. Ruthy whined.

      Delete
  13. Good morning, class! I am about to enjoy a cup of Earl Grey with Myra, but I wanted to pop in and see how everyone is doing with today's discussion and quiz.

    Alas, as usual, we have some troublemakers. You may see me after class for some remedial work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Grammar Queen should drink Lady Grey. I believe it's more in keeping with your station in life.

      Delete
    2. Perhaps you are correct. I will add it to Myra's shopping list.

      Delete
    3. You're getting too picky, woman!

      Delete
  14. PS I apologize for asking a question of Myra when we all know it is YOU who I need to come to. YOU who has all the answers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And never, ever, EVER forget this, my dear Mary!

      Delete
  15. Oh man. My brain hurts now. Great tips, although I still can't figure out effect and affect, and now I need to add lay and lie. I need more coffee. Please toss my name in the hat for the drawing. I need all the help I can get!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear LeAnne, one thing you must remember is that "affect" is always a verb, and it means "to have an effect upon."

      On the other hand, "effect" can be both verb and noun, depending upon the usage. As a verb, it means to cause something to happen or bring something about.

      Yes, it may seem the differences are slight, but they exist nonetheless.

      Delete
    2. LeAnne Affect and effect is a KILLER and I think GQ's lovely and accurate (I assume) explanation is exhibit A that it's a killer.

      Delete
  16. Harderses'- that is kind of hard to digest. Still I'd rather lay my book on the shelf than have a m--s- run across my foot. Oh - dreadful day to be Mary! Grammar Queen, however did you get so smart?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello, my dear Cindy! Yes, I agree, "Harderses" is a mouthful. (Personally, I tend to rewrite sentences which might require this form.)

      And yes, without Mary to torment, my day would be much less entertaining.

      As to how I became so smart? Study, my dear. Years and years and years of constant, brutal, intense study.

      Just joking!!! I wouldn't want to frighten anyone away. The truth is, I am brilliant by my very nature!

      Delete
    2. And admirably humble, too.

      Delete
  17. I agree, Cindy, that sentence with Harderses' Ranch completely took me by surprise. I've been erroneously writing such nouns as Harders' but now have had my fingers properly rapped. Which is probably lousy grammar too, but I'm only on my first cup of coffee! Please put me in the draw for the Grammar Book as I definitely need a refresher from Grade 13 English!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope I have surprised you in a positive way, dear Laurie. When it comes to proper English, there is always more to comprehend.

      Delete
    2. A very positive way - English is one of the hardest languages but we don't realize it if it's our mother tongue. :)

      Delete
    3. Yes, imagine the difficulty of learning the pronunciation differences of these words:

      cough
      though
      rough
      bough

      Delete
  18. Thanks for the great lesson Grammar Queen. Even as an English teacher, grammar is still confusing to me at times.

    Please enter me in the drawing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Alas, there is much to be confused about when it comes to the English language. That is why grammarians will always be necessary.

      Delete
  19. I'll always remember my English teacher's response to lay and lie: "A person lies. A chicken lays." I'm still not sure what that means. But I agree with Debra. Avoid them all (together and separately).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Uh-oh. I think I needed a semi-colon. That's another lesson, right?

      Delete
    2. Sandra, my dear! Let me clarify. A chicken can, at times, lie down for a rest. But when a chicken lays, it always lays something, preferably an egg. "Lay" always requires an object.

      As for semicolons, GQ examined your comment and could find no point at which a semicolon would be required, unless, perhaps, you wanted to join those two sentences:

      A person lies; a chicken lays.

      But again, give the poor chicken an egg to lay!

      Delete
    3. Do you need a semi-colon, Sandra? Because I think I need a drink.

      Delete
  20. Good Morning, Grammar Queen! Now if I can just remember all the grammar questions I've wanted to ask.

    I grew up with an English grammar teacher as my Mom. We had no choice but to speak properly. Now I miss being able to ask her a question whenever something comes up.

    I'll print this out and hope to come back later to take the test if my spinning world will allow that. Next storm is due in tomorrow bringing the vertigo with it.

    My mother always said if you are lying down use lie but if you are placing something use lay. That has always helped me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your mother was correct, Wilani. I know you miss her very much.

      So very sorry about the vertigo! It must be terribly difficult to think clearly when everything around you is spinning. Let's hope the storm turns out not to be as bad as predicted.

      Delete
  21. FGQ, I feel as if I'm back in school! But here we go...

    Walt's experience with Kindle Scout turned out quite well.
    Missy invited everyone over to the Tippens’s (or Tippenses') new house for a backyard barbecue. [This has been a legit grammar problem I've come across in real life! LOL]
    Jackie suggested she and Patti Jo should make a peach pie together.
    “It's going to be a long day,” Ruthy whined.
    Reading the text message, Sally felt her phone buzz in her hand.
    Mary’s chicken lay in the nest for a long time before it laid an egg. (the chicken one was difficult!)
    Whom will Nancy take horseback riding with her?
    Jill, Jeanne, or whoever is available may help set up for the Seekerville picnic.
    Wilani exceeded her Speedbo goals, and she is already at work on her next manuscript.
    The book that Vince most wanted to read is now available on Amazon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Typo alert. That comment was supposed to be addressed to GQ. :)

      Delete
    2. Yes, we did wonder . . .

      Excellent work here, Missy. However, my dear, the correct answer for #2 is "Tippenses' new house." One Tippens, many Tippenses.

      Be sure to take a second look at #4 as well. As I mentioned above, this is a trick question.

      Delete
    3. I just read it as Fabulous Grammar Queen, Missy. I assumed that was your intent, and well deserved FGQ

      Delete
    4. Yes. We shall assume so. Because I am.

      Delete
  22. BTW, GQ, I keep a note in my phone with the descriptive clause info so that I don't have to keep texting Myra to ask her to check to make sure I have it right. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No prob, Missy! You've got my number. :)

      And I know how to reach GQ anytime.

      Delete
  23. Dear Miss Queen,
    Thank you for the lesson. We caught Mary's mouse this morning. He was in the cupboard. Now I must lie down and let my gray matter rest.

    Please enter me. I would be lying if I said I didn't need help.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sure Mary will be immensely relieved!

      She might also gain from taking a few notes regarding your correct use of "lie."

      Delete
    2. Why must this blog contain such a horror storym Barbara. Now I have to Lay (or lie) down, too. Wait. I'll go consult the blog.
      It's LIE.

      Delete
    3. A gold star for Mary!!!!!!!

      (Deserving of several exclamation points.)

      Certainly, though, the "m" where a comma should be is merely a slip of your right ring finger.

      Delete
    4. Yep, I can't be held responsible for typos. (I keep telling my editors that, so I have to believe it!)

      Delete
    5. Have you considered a remedial typing class?

      Delete
    6. I'm firmly in the 'old dog new tricks' phase of life. I doubt a class would help.

      Delete
  24. You know how I remember Lay and Lie? (to the extent I do...)
    That old song Lay, Lady, Lay (ignore the brutal comma usage) That song...is wrong.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. Most certainly.

      Unless . . .

      No, I shall not even go there.

      Delete
  25. which reminds me of an old joke.

    Spell check is for Loosers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do you see me laughing, Mary.

      DO YOU???

      Delete
    2. She didn't Mary. I mean it. She didn't. Not once.

      Delete
    3. Mary, you slay me with your humor. I'm trying not to guffaw here at work. My coworkers already think I'm a bit odd...

      Delete
  26. Welcome, Miss Queen!

    Thank you for interjecting so much​ humor into such dry subject matter. My head still hurts from the lesson, but I laughed out loud reading through all of the comments. Please enter my name in the drawing. I could use all the help I can get.

    ~ Renee

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As Mary Poppins would say, a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.

      I try to do my part.

      Although I see nothing humorous about this at all.

      Not one thing.

      Delete
  27. The English Language is such a mess.
    I watched an old youtube video of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, his trying to read a book to their soon-to-be-born baby. And he keeps reading words wrong, tough, through, cough, bough.
    And she keeps acting like 'why can't you read simple English'. And he sets up the new sentence and you can FEEL the word coming and how he's getting more confused and scared to pronounce it. It's pretty funny.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've seen that, Mary--hilarious! GQ mentioned those same words above. (I think she saw the same video.)

      Delete
  28. PS I blame the French. Partly because of their abusive use of words like beautiful. But also because, just as a life lesson, I've found that, when it doubt, it's always best to blame the French.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But the French gave us such charming words as moi!

      Delete
    2. Who do you know that uses moi???????

      Delete
  29. Mary, that's a funny.... and telling!!!.... episode.

    Oh man, all this grammar.... I am so amazed by you. Like thoroughly amazed....

    And so grateful for editors.

    I LOVE EDITORS.

    That's all I'm sayin'....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A good editor is worth her (or his) weight in gold.

      Delete
  30. I absolutely loved this post! Blogger ate my first comment, so here I go again!

    (1) Walts’ experience with Kindle Scout turned out quite well. Walts' should be Walt's because he's just one person.
    (2) Missy invited everyone over to the Tippens’ new house for a backyard barbecue. Tippens' should be Tippenses' since there is more than one Tippens. (Any relation to Aaron Tippens the country singer??)
    (3)Jackie suggested her and Patti Jo should make a peach pie together. Her should be she. I have no idea why; it just sounds better. When I reworded the sentence: Jackie suggested me go to the ball, it didn't sound right. Me should be I go to the ball. Thank you, Jackie!
    (4)“Its going to be a long day,” Ruthy whined. Its should be It's for it is. However, Ruthy would never whine about a long day; she'd write a book with all that time!
    (5)Reading the text message, Sally’s phone buzzed in her hand. (As I was reading these, I was so hoping my name would be used! And it is! I'm famous! Now back to taking the quiz.) Since my phone can't read text messages, unfortunately, it should be: Sally's phone buzzed in her hand as she read the text message.
    (6)Mary’s chicken laid in the nest for a long time before laying an egg. Mary's chicken has lain in the nest for a long time before finally laying an egg. (going by examples in post; really have no idea why)
    (7)Who will Nancy take horseback riding with her? Who should be whom
    (8)Jill, Jeanne, or whomever is available may help set up for the Seekerville picnic. Whomever should be whoever; it's still part of the subject.
    (9)Wilani exceeded her Speedbo goals and, she is already at work on her next manuscript. comma after goals, not after and.
    (10)The book, that Vince most wanted to read, is now available on Amazon. No commas needed.
    So, how did I do? Back to read through the comments as I saw GQ was editing the comments as well! I would love to be entered to win a copy of Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. Grammar Queen, you are my hero!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. just fyi, chickens are annoying and eggs are cheap. We buy eggs.

      Delete
    2. Excellent work, my dear Sally!

      The rationale in #3 is because "she and Patti Jo" is the compound subject of the dependent clause that follows.

      And yes, I prefer to purchase eggs at the grocery store as well. Who wants to deal with a temperamental chicken?

      Delete
    3. I prefer eggs delivered by my daughter from someone who raises chickens. That way I don't have to deal with the chickens or go to the store lol.

      Delete
  31. You can't believe what spell check and grammar check does to cowboy slang. Talk about abusive.

    My favorite contraction. he'd've been mad. She'd've come alone. I just love cramming three words into one short one. Oh look. Blogger says it's a typo, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Blogger is not always correct. That is why you have GQ.

      Contract away, Miss Mary.

      Delete
  32. Can The Grammar Queen create an emergency hotline number for those late at night/weekend type grammar emergencies?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! I was going to ask if we could have her number so we could text emergency questions!!

      Delete
    2. Alas, GQ dare not disseminate her private phone number to the masses. However, you are always welcome to submit an email query, which I will answer as time permits. seekervillegrammarqueen @ gmail . com

      Delete
  33. I wouldn't be upset with the French if they pronounced moi as moy, like it is supposed to be. But MWAH! What kind of sickness is that?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Complaining again?

      I must find some ibuprofen at once!

      Delete
  34. My quiz answers:

    1. Walts' possessive is incorrect
    2. Tippens' possessive is incorrect
    3. her should be she
    4. Ruthy doesn't whine. Snarky maybe... but never whiny.
    5. Sally's phone isn't reading text messages
    6. I still can't figure out lie and lay - no matter how many times explained. I try to avoid the word. Apologies... mental block.
    7. Who should be whom
    8. Whomever should be whoever
    9. No comma needed
    10. No commas needed. I'm guessing Vince has a multitude of books.

    I do enjoy your lectures. I always feel a little bit smarter after reading them - except when it comes to lie and lay - then I just feel less than smart. I could probably use the Grammar book, but would definitely prefer one of Miss Myra's books, because I love them so much. :)

    No off to read the comments...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A valiant effort, Deb! There is actually a genuine grammar error in #4, however. See if you can find it.

      In #9, the comma belongs, but it has been misplaced. Can you reposition it correctly?

      Now, do go and commiserate with Mary about the lie/lay dilemma. Perhaps you can encourage one another.

      Delete
    2. 4. Its should be It's
      9. comma after goals, before the conjunction

      I love Mary. She and I have the same grammar problems. Now if I could just be half the writer she is, I'll consider myself successful.

      Delete
    3. Correct, Deb.

      Alas, many are envious of Mary's writing talent. I suppose, in some small and insignificant way, it compensates for her grammatical issues.

      Delete
  35. I'm joining the "just don't use it" bandwagon for this lay/lie business!!
    People can just go to sleep.
    They can just put it down.
    Problem Solved!! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Jana. For many of my students, avoidance is a very wise choice.

      Delete
  36. Hi GQ:

    Doesn't 'to lay' mean to write romantic poetry, usually in octosyllabic verse? And doesn't this follow the rule that 'to lay' is always to lay something?

    Also when Bob wrote, "Lay, lady, lay, lay across my big brass bed," isn't this to be understood as that which is being laid was 'her body' and in this sense isn't "Lay, Lady, lay" correct grammar?

    Besides, given that the 'Lady' in the song is probably Joan Baez, I think the imperative 'to write romantic balladesque (not a neologism) poetry' is probably the more appropriate meaning.

    Language is totally democratic. It is created by the speakers. Grammarians are the scientists who try to discover the laws which govern this vast domain. Unlike physical science, however, the speakers can change the laws. This is something that nature is not likely do to the law of gravity. In this sense, it is harder to be a grammarian than an astrophysicist.

    I just love it when you speak like a language philosopher!

    Vince

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooooh, Vince! And I adore it when you philosophize (although partly because I know it tends to drive Myra insane)!

      Joan Baez and octosyllabic verse notwithstanding, yes, language constantly evolves. Otherwise, we would all still be speaking like Chaucer. Or perhaps even cave persons.

      Delete
  37. Time for another grammar joke: What does the preacher say when ENGLISH MAJORS marry? I now pronouns you he and she.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very funny. I did snicker. Just slightly.

      Delete
    2. Haha, this actually made me laugh, and I seldom ever laugh at jokes like this.

      Delete
  38. LOL, MYRA, GQ cracks me up EVERY SINGLE TIME!! LOVE her dry wit, although I am going to take my life in my hands with my next paragraph.

    DEEP BREATH ...

    I'm sorry, but I simply cannot go with "Welcome to the Harderses’ Ranch," correct or not. I was always taught WAY back when GQ was a girl that all that is needed to show possession for a noun ending in S is an apostrOphe, so I'm sticking to my guns on this. And guess what??

    GULP ...

    I found somebody that agrees with me (shhhh ... GQ's competition, Grammarbook.com), who says:

    "Many common nouns end in the letter s (lens, cactus, bus, etc.). So do a lot of proper nouns (Mr. Jones, Texas, Christmas). There are conflicting policies and theories about how to show possession when writing such nouns. There is no right answer; the best advice is to choose a formula and stay consistent.

    Rule 1c. Some writers and editors add only an apostrophe to all nouns ending in s. And some add an apostrophe + s to every proper noun, be it Hastings's or Jones's.

    One method, common in newspapers and magazines, is to add an apostrophe + s ('s) to common nouns ending in s, but only a stand-alone apostrophe to proper nouns ending in s.

    Examples:
    the class's hours
    Mr. Jones' golf clubs
    the canvas's size
    Texas' weather

    So with the utmost respect and admiration for GC, I apologetically say that I hope to visit the Harders' Ranch someday. And when I do, I just hope the GQ isn't there when I do or I will be dog meat.

    HUGS!!
    Julie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Julie, Julie, Julie. You missed the point entirely. The question was not merely one of possession but of plural and possession. To make a proper noun that ends in S plural, you must correctly add "es." Then, when it becomes necessary to show possession, then you may simply add the apostrophe.

      Delete
    2. I stand corrected, GQ, and my humble apologies for missing the point!

      But right or wrong, I'd rather go to the Harders' ranch than the Harderses' -- WAY easier to say! ;)

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
    3. Then just simply go to the Harders Ranch (no apostrophe needed, as I explained in my lecture).

      Delete
    4. CONFLICTING THEORIES!!! DOES THIS MEAN WAR??
      And what is GQ's theory on capitalization?

      I bet she hates text messages and emoticons too!

      Delete
    5. There are no "conflicting theories," dear Tina, for GQ is always right.

      :-D

      And I am perfectly capable of inserting appropriate emoticons when the need arises.

      Delete
    6. Perfectly capable, and yet never so inclined.

      <3 <3

      Delete
  39. I would love to win one of Myra's books.
    Becky B.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She has been so advised. Thank you for visiting, Miss Becky B.

      Delete
  40. The past, the present and the future walked into a bar.

    It was tense.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Alas, I fear you have all fallen asleep following lunch. Are we back in kindergarten?

    Don't worry, though. I shall remain vigilant until your little eyes have opened and your minds are primed for an afternoon of continued learning.

    ReplyDelete
  42. By the way, I have just seen on Facebook that Ruthy is actually whining.

    Yes. You heard it here. It is the truth.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Grammar Queen, I, always, look forward to your visits! It'es a highlight of my dull life. If only I had the friends you've so generously have given me but, I fear you've overstated my popularity.

    Janet

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nonsense, my dear Janet. You will always be the belle of the ball, the flower around which all the bees and butterflies flutter. Your charm is exceeded only by your beauty and impeccable fashion sense.

      Delete
  44. Grammar Queen, its great to see you again. Like Janet, I love, love, love all your grammatical info. Its embarrassing that with all the degrees I have, my grammar is so horrible. sigh. Thanks for your help. Have fun today. Looks like you are super busy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, thank you, Sandra. My Seekerville classes always require a great deal of stamina.

      Delete
    2. Heavens, Tina!!! What, may I ask, are you implying?

      Excuse me, I just have to, um, find something in my handbag.

      Delete
  45. Grammar Queen, to have overlooked all the errors in my comment, I fear you're either in need of a nap or have gone soft.

    Janet

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Janet, I think we wore her royal highness out.

      Delete
    2. Oh, I saw them, my dear. But I thought perchance you were responding from one of those infernal smartphones and may not have easily been able to make corrections.

      Yes, I--even I--can forgive such issues.

      Thank you, also, Jackie, for your concern about my wellbeing. I assure you, I am always up for the challenge of Seekerville!

      Delete
    3. Nap time, indeed!

      If Horrible and Horrific are the same things, then why are terrible and terrific opposites?

      Delete
    4. Good question. Your assignment is to write a research paper on the topic. It shall be due this time tomorrow.

      Delete
    5. Ew. Stepped knee-deep into that one, didn't I?

      Delete
    6. That is your just deserts for attempting to be funny during class and disrupting my lecture.

      Delete
    7. Psst, just ignore her, Tina. I'll keep her busy helping me edit my wip, and she'll forget all about the research paper.

      Delete
  46. And here I thought that I was done with school for the day...

    This lecture was giving me terrible flashbacks of my days in English. Ten long years suffering under the iron rod of the Mennonites as they tried to drill the rules of English through my thick skull. But yup, this is all stuff that I have been taught before (even if I had forgotten some of the more minor rules).

    Thanks for the refresher.

    I would love to be entered for both the books please, but especially the one on grammar (heaven knows I need all the help I can get).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are most welcome, Nicki. I deeply regret causing upsetting flashbacks, but anything for the cause of good grammar.

      Have some tea. That should help.

      Delete
  47. All right, pop quiz done, NOW I am done with school for the day

    1.) Walts' should be Walt's
    2.) Tippens' should be Tippenses' (I guess)
    3.) her should be she
    4.) Its should be It's
    5.) The sentence should be rewritten so it doesn't sound like Sally's phone was the one reading the text message
    6.) laid should be lay (I'm pretty sure at least)
    7.) Who should be whom (at least I think... I was never good with the whole who/whom thing)
    8.) whomever should be whoever (again, I'm no good with the who/whom rule)
    9.) the comma should be in front of and rather than behind the conjunction
    10.) there should be no commas around the appositive phrase since it is restrictive

    And yes I did write this all out on a note paper before typing it here just like I did in English... the Mennonites strike again!

    ReplyDelete
  48. GRAMMAR QUEEN, thank you for imparting your wisdom! May we use the power well!

    ReplyDelete
  49. GQ, my very best friend taught English for thirty-eight years, so I let her do all the talking.

    I shall print this post out and trash...uh, stash it in my files. Hopefully, no good, uh, dang spell check...(everyone else is using the excuse, can't I?), um, some good will come from it.

    Lovely post.

    Blessings,

    Marcia

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Too many slips of the tongue--or keyboard, as the case may be, Miss Marcia. Trash indeed! I may have to make you stay after class and write one hundred times on the board:

      "I will never trash GQ's lectures."

      Delete
    2. If I do, will you enter my name for the drawing?

      Marcia

      Delete
    3. Of course, my dear. I shall do so immediately, since we operate under the honor system here.

      Delete
  50. Restrictive vs. nonrestrictive. I finally understand! Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! The light has dawned! Bless you, dear Beth!

      Delete
  51. Quoting Her Majesty: I recently came upon a rumor that the word whom may eventually fall out of use entirely. Alas, it breaks my grammatically correct heart!

    My stars! First the Oxford comma is endangered. Now 'whom' is endangered. So sad.

    The next thing you know, using the pronoun before the proper name will be acceptable. Such continues to be the case in major publishers' books.

    Gee ... hope I used that apostrophe correctly ...

    Nancy C

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You did, my dear, you did.

      Alas, yes, I am a lifelong proponent of the Oxford comma. And now I find some sources agreeing that it is perfectly correct to use the plural "their" when it refers back to "everyone," which, technically, is singular.

      What is this world coming to?

      Delete
    2. I finally remembered what I intended to ask you, Your Majesty. What is your opinion regarding the use of 's/he' instead of 'she or he'?

      Nancy C

      Delete
  52. Whom has always frightened me. I tend to just rewrite the sentence if I've written myself into a 'whom' corner.

    ReplyDelete
  53. Of course I write cowboys. Whom does not come rolling naturally off their tongues.

    ReplyDelete