Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Grammar Queen Returns!

Good morning, students, and may I wish each of you a happy, productive, and grammatically correct New Year!

Yes, there is nothing like the start of a new year for resolving never again to commit grammatical faux pas. And the best way to avoid such embarrassment is to learn and remember the rules. That is why Grammar Queen has consented--upon much pleading and begging by Myra (reasons soon to be explained)--to grace you once again with the benefit of her bounteous wisdom.

You see, only last week Myra’s local television station aired a news report in which an adult appeared to be addressing a class of elementary students concerning acceptable conduct for handling misunderstandings. Unfortunately, Myra completely missed the rest of the report because she was distracted by the list of rules the adult was writing on the whiteboard.

Actually, it was the very first rule that Myra found so shocking, and she immediately contacted me requesting my intervention. The sentence read, quite simply:

Say your sorry.

Say your sorry???????

In this case, Grammar Queen feels quite justified in overusing certain punctuation marks, because she--like Myra--is utterly and absolutely stunned!!!!!

How many mistakes do we find in this instance?
  1. The adult should have used the word “you’re,” a contraction for “you are.”
  2. The adult allowed this blatant error to be videotaped for local television news coverage, thus revealing her face to an entire metropolitan viewing area.
I understand that the occasional lapse in grammatical good sense happens to the best of us from time to time, and perhaps we can chalk up this person’s mistake to a bad case of nerves. After all, who would not be a teensy bit anxious with a video camera lurking over one’s shoulder while standing before a horde of antsy preadolescents ?

All that aside, we come here today to arm ourselves with knowledge. And knowledge, as they say, is power. Power to overcome the grammatical affronts that bombard us nonstop from the ramparts, from the bulwarks, from the--

Excuse me. Myra, you raised your hand? A question, dear?
“Uh, Grammar Queen, sorry for interrupting, but maybe you could just get on with the grammar lesson?”
Ahem. Yes. Of course. And in today’s lesson we will address frequently misused, misspelled, or otherwise confusing words.

Clearly contractions (or lack thereof, as in the sad example we just described) are among the most often to be misspelled or misused. A contraction, according to Merriam-Webster, is “a shortening of a word, syllable, or word group by omission of one or more sounds or letters.” Normally an apostrophe is inserted at the point of omission.

Let us begin with that dreaded contraction you’re:

You are ➔ you’re

But the problem is that we get in a hurry and confuse the contraction with the possessive pronoun your. One reason for this confusion is because the spoken words sound identical. In other words, they are homonyms.

Yes, homonyms are among the most frustrating culprits of correct usage. Let’s look at a few.

Its (possessive pronoun)
It’s (contraction for “it is”)

They’re (they are)
Their (plural possessive)
There (adverb)

Alter (to change)
Altar (a table used for a holy rite)

Compliment (to flatter, enhance)
Complement (to complete)

Led (past tense of lead, to show the way)
Lead (a heavy metal)

Peaked (reached the top)
Piqued (stimulated interest)

The list goes on and on, but in the interest of time let me refer you to this handy online resource.

Now let’s discuss a few other problem words. An often confused pair is:

Effect (noun)
Affect (verb)

Although, not to confuse you more, but effect can also be a verb.

Dear me. How to keep all these words straight! Let’s try using them in a sentence.
Mary effected a major overhaul of her main character, and the effect was a much stronger story that affected Julie and Sandra in meaningful ways.
Now let’s look at a pair of adjectives that are often used incorrectly:

Averse (reluctant)
Adverse (unfavorable)

Glynna was averse to speaking directly with her publisher about an adverse term in her contract, so she relied upon her agent to handle the details. (Smart girl, that Glynna.)
Two words that go the distance when it comes to usage confusion are:

Farther (generally used for measurable or physical distances)
Further (generally used to describe a figurative distance)

Tina and Janet live farther from the coast than Camy and Cara, but after further consideration they have decided they are quite happy where they are.
No discussion of this nature would be complete without another pair of oft confused homonyms:

Principle (always a noun)
Principal (as a noun, the head of a school, as in “the principal is your pal”); as an adjective, meaning prominent or important)

The principal reason Missy and Cheryl attended the principal’s lecture was to learn more about the principles of good writing.
And finally (at least for today’s discussion) we have the often confused pair:

Sight (something worth seeing; a device to aid the eye)
Site (location)
Audra arrived at the site of her new dude ranch in the Rockies and immediately invited Ruthy, Pam, and Debby to enjoy the breathtaking sight.
We cannot begin to cover all the words that belong on this list, so for further study, let me refer you to this handy Web site I came across. Click on the word groups you want to study, and you can even take a short quiz to check your comprehension.

Other similar Web pages:

Caveat: Grammar Queen makes no claims about the accuracy of such sites and cannot be held responsible for any misinformation distributed therefrom.
Now, as our lecture time draws to a close, Grammar Queen is happy to take your questions. Do I see any hands? Yes, you there in the back row. Don’t be shy.
DON’T MISS THIS ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME (or at least once in 2011) OPPORTUNITY! For one lucky commenter on today’s post, Grammar Queen has graciously consented to proofread up to 20 manuscript pages (standard formatting rules apply) for grammar, spelling, and usage only (the story itself will not be critiqued). Pages must be e-mailed in an attached Word document no later than January 31, 2011. Corrections will be made using Track Changes with Comments to include any necessary explanations.

If you would like to be entered in the drawing, please type PROOFREADING ENTRY at the top of your comment. The winner will be announced in the upcoming Weekend Edition.


  1. Totally great post! After going over my line edits, I realized I could certainly use that 20 page critique.


  2. this is cool when I use you're in a sentence and am not sure I would say as in Say you're sorry I would think in my head say you are sorry and if you are fits then its you're.
    I admit I use to muddle their and there alot but I know remember their belongs to someone.
    good post and examples.


    There. Does that work?

    Sorry I missed most of the fun yesterday but I'm going to stay dressed up :).

    I did get pictures posted on my blog if anyone wants to take a look. My cousin of some sort showed a group picture to my great aunt. Four people in that pic are labeled. Three are adult women standing togther [labeled Grandma, aunt, aunt] and one a younger girl [labeled mom]. I always thought the three women were my great grandmother and her sisters but no! Great Aunt Dot helped me figure it out :).

    'Mom' is my great-grandmother, the aunts are her sisters [8-9 years older than her] and 'grandma' her mother, my great-great-grandmother :). How cool!

    Okay - back to today's post...

    Ugh. Those things drive me NUTS! I'm usually right on with them, though the occasional one does get past me. Compliment/complement is one that gets me a lot - I forget that complement even exists... The contraction ones especially drive me crazy!

    Thanks for the reminders and the links :).

    carol at carolmoncado dot com

  4. Thanks for your helpful post, Grammar Queen. I must admit that as a former copy editor, I was looking forward to this one.

    You did a great job clarifying some of the most confusing homonyms. I only recently learned the difference between averse and adverse when my grammar check caught me using the wrong word.

  5. Sight, site and cite.

    those all confuse me.

  6. It's early morning here and I think this is right.

    Pour me a glass of water.
    He pored over the newspaper story.

    These are tricky for me, too:

    He piqued her interest. She took a peek at the manuscript. Pike's Peak is very tall.

  7. Proofreading Entry

    I admit to mixing up adverse and averse.

    I also admit to using faulty grammar sometimes.

    I'm also tired as I've been watching the game.

  8. I got most of those in your post. I'm befuddled over the use of whom vs who.

    desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

  9. Mary Sight and site I'm fine with as here we have different spelling for things and learn these well.
    I have lousy long distance sight.
    the site I want to see in Hawaii is not sure.
    but cite I'm not sure about.

    Hawaii is sounding better by the day.

  10. It's time to put the coffee pot on so everyone can whiff its aroma at 4 a.m.

    Way to go, teach!


  11. I don't have need of a critique but thanks for the handy reference pages, Grammar Queen!

  12. Excellent lesson, Grammar Queen!

  13. FIRST:

    I'm going to bet that Missy and Cheryl WEREN'T in that principal's lecture for such a mundane reason. Uh, uh. I know those girls!


    Even when you know all these things, when your typing fast (hahahahaha) your brain doesn't always register these things and I find them when I edit. It's so easy to slip up and/or mess up, especially when your (hahahahaha again) slicing and dicing a manuscript to revise it.

    Of course my buddy VINCE would say if I planned them more, I'd revise less.

    And he's most likely rite.

    Myra, this is wonderful!

    I brought leftover beef jerky from yesterday, and a tray of custard cakes. And I'm with Cathy Shouse: peeking at those peaks might pique my interest, but their a pain in the but.

    Sorry. Couldn't resist.

    Helen, thank you for coffee. I'm on cup two.

  14. CONNEALY!!!!



    Of course I really loved the shot of you from 20 ft. away, when I needed a magnifier to tell who it was.

    Love this!


    Thank you for the post! So much to retain, so little brain space (it seems ;-) ).

  16. Grammer Queen,

    Thanks for your clarifications!

    Twenty some years ago, I had a supervisor who didn't know the difference between "know" and "no". She consistantly switched them in external and internal correspondence. Of course, she refused to believe she was using the wrong word.

  17. Good morning Grammar Queen and Myra,

    I love this. These words are always a problem so I try not to use them. LOL

    I'm interested in the who / whom usage also.

    Thanks for the websites. Those will be helpful.

  18. Hey, GQ ... GREAT blog today, and I have to admit that when my fingers are flying in the heat of production, the homonyn I mess up the most is their, there and they're, but I also have trouble with who and whom like Linda and Sandra, so would love to hear a tip for keeping that one straight.

    Side Story: I actually love homonyms and one of my favorites is reign, rain, rein because whenever I listen to the worship song Reign in Me, I always think how appropriate that particular homonym is because I sure need God to "reign" in me as King, "rain on me with His grace and mercy and "rein" my crazy personality in most of the time.

    Cool post, Myra ... er ... GQ!!


  19. Grammar Queen, as always your post hits us where it hurts. If only the Seekers could enter this fabulous contest! But alas, that's not to be and I refuse to beg.

    I brought oatmeal with all kinds of toppings on this chilly winter morning.


  20. Mary, like Ruthy--although not quite as exuberantly--I want to say that I love your new gravatar picture.


    As y'all know, another set of eyes on a ms. is appreciated!

    Great post, thoughtfully presented.

    (Party's over for most of us. Back to school!)

    May at maythek9spy dot com

    Mary seems to be smiling after looking at her bookcase. Time for at least one more shelf, to hold all of 'em. :)

    "Oh I know, I known Teacher!!!
    Whom is an object. Who is a subject. I think..."


    I know for a fact I have issues with my manuscripts. Sight, cite, site always gets me mixed up. Let alone affect/effect.

    Susie Sheehey
    susiesheehey (at) verizon (dot) net

  23. Greetings, students! Perhaps Grammar Queen has mentioned she is not an early riser? Even so, how lovely to see all your smiling faces this bitterly cold day!

    PATTY, line edits are indeed the place to catch any lingering grammar issues.

    AUSJENNY, you get an A+!

    CAROLM, yesterday in Seekerville was quite a day, wasn't it? Grammar Queen popped in once or twice to see what all the excitement was about. Aren't old photographs delightful? If only they could talk! What fascinating details we might learn from them about our ancestors.

  24. Oh dear, I'm breaking out in grammatical hives. Just the word grammar strikes dread and fear in the very core of my being.


    I have to ask this though. Don't laugh. Help me with then and than. Please.

    Kav (whose faltering heart could not withstand the rigors of a grammatical critque)

  25. KELI, I agree. Averse and adverse cause problems for many writers. As a former copy editor, you certainly must have come across your share of grammar assassinations.

    MARY, thank you for reminding me that cite belongs in this homonym group! Cite, of course, means to quote a source, or possibly to issue a traffic ticket or summon to court.

    CATHY, my dear! Right on target! Another A+ student!

    WALT, first of all let me compliment you on the complementary colors of your authentic attire. To what game do you refer? Grammar Queen is not particularly sports-minded.

  26. Oh -- sweating bullets now. Was that whose correct? Is there such a thing as who's and what is the difference?

    In my Focus on the Family insert in my church bulletin there was a small article written by CATHY SHOUSE

    I pointed at it and said, "I know her!"

    The most common response was, "Shhhh!" But it was during church.

    Anyway, I'm proud of you, Cathy.

  28. LINDA, the "who vs. whom" debate rages on. Actually, there is no debate about it. Who is a nominative-case pronoun. Whom is objective case.

    Simply put, who is used when the word is the subject of your sentence. Whom is used when it is a direct object or the object of a preposition.


    Who is going to the store with me?


    To whom shall I give this $5 bill?

  29. Also advice and advise

    And accept and except

    These nearly always stop me and I have to think of GRAMMAR when I want to be thinking of mayhem, bloodshet and gunfire. You know, the usual elements of a romance novel.

  30. AUSJENNY, Hawaii indeed sounds delightful, this time of year especially for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere under blankets of snow.

    HELEN, thanks once again for being so efficient with the coffeepot. However, would you care to share a pot of Earl Grey with me instead?

    RENEE ANN, I understand you are one of Seekerville's regular visitors. We are so glad of your company.

    EDWINA, many thank for stopping by.

  31. So I guess I should have put:


    when I posted at Midnight last night.

    And Mary, I love your face.


  32. Thanks for the who/whom thing, Grammar Queen :).

    I doubt I'll get it right anyway ;).

    I did post pics of my Seeker Sightings at Walmart yesterday on my blog too. Cuz it's way cool =D.

  33. RUTHY, as usual, you are your charmingly perky self. Of course you are quite correct. In the heat of creativity, grammar is not necessarily the first priority.

    However, knowing the rules and being able to spot them in a manuscript during the editing phase is of utmost importance for establishing your credibility with an editor.

    And Grammar Queen would just like to mention here that her offer to proofread a manuscript for one of our commenters might come in quite handy for anyone planning to enter the Genesis Contest.

  34. VICTORIA, yes, grammar can take up quite a bit of brain space. However, I assure you, we all have plenty of room.

    ROSE, I do find that hard to believe! No and know??? Amazing!

    SANDRA, I believe you will find the who/whom issue addressed in an earlier comment. Please contact me privately if you need further remedial assistance.

  35. JULIE, always a delight to visit with you! Aren't homonyms fascinating? I sometimes wonder what our grammatical ancestors were thinking when they created so many words that sound alike but are spelled differently.

    Myra has mentioned on occasion that she sometimes confuses rein and reign when typing rapidly. Of course the first spelling refers to the leather straps that guide a horse; the second means to hold power over.

  36. JANET, oatmeal is my favorite breakfast! Myra makes it for me quite often, adding dried fruit, walnuts, cinnamon, and brown sugar.

    KC, indeed you are correct about the who/whom debacle. Keep up the good work!

    SUSIE, the first step in any recovery program is admitting you have a problem. Congratulations!

  37. JANET, oatmeal is my favorite breakfast! Myra makes it for me quite often, adding dried fruit, walnuts, cinnamon, and brown sugar.

    KC, indeed you are correct about the who/whom debacle. Keep up the good work!

    SUSIE, the first step in any recovery program is admitting you have a problem. Congratulations!

  38. passed, past can get tricky in some instances..

  39. KAV, you bring up a most important word pair.

    Then can be a noun, an adverb, or an adjective, depending upon the usage. It almost always refers to the placement of an event in time.

    First we went to the mall. Then we went to the supermarket. Back then, things were much simpler.

    Than is a conjunction and is generally used as a comparison word.

    Loretta is older than I am [old].
    Clarence ate more than his share of the birthday cake.

  40. Grammar Queen, I have to disagree with you on that 'plenty of brain space' comment.

    Mine is fully. I personally felt it overflow in 1987. Bad moment. I can only now learn something NEW if I forget something old.

    Example: If I could just forget that stupid Greek alphabet I learned in college I might now be able to remember the pin number to my debit card.

    But noooooooooooooooooo

    Alpha, beta, gamma, delta, epsilon...trust me, I can do the whole thing. Comes in handy on the occasional crossword puzzle, but nothing else.

  41. KAV, you did indeed use whose correctly as a possessive. Remember, who's is a contraction that would otherwise be rendered who is, so that is the way to test your usage.

    MARY, thank you for bringing CATHY's publishing success to the attention of Seekerville! What a delight!

    As for advice, that is what Grammar Queen so generously imparts. She is happy to advise you whenever you have questions.

    However, you must be willing to accept good advice, except, of course, when it conflicts with your madness and mayhem.

  42. Thanks Grammar Queen! You're making me a little less afraid so I'm going to leap in with another question.

    desperate and desparate

    I've seen them both. Are they just different spellings or do they mean something different?

  43. MARY, are we confessing further grammatical issues, dear one?

    Yes, past and passed can be tricky. I think the simplest guideline is to remember that passed is the past tense of the verb pass.

    My past passed quickly before my eyes as I watched the big bus speeding toward me.

    And, oh my goodness, Mary, you and Myra's husband would have such fun reciting the Greek alphabet together! He is quite helpful when Myra needs to know a particular Greek letter to answer a crossword puzzle clue!

  44. KAV, thank you for bravely raising your hand with questions. You are truly an example for the rest of the class!

    Desperate is an adjective meaning a state of hopelessness.

    I believe the second word you are asking about is actually disparate (check your spelling, dear). This word is also an adjective, and it is used to describe different or incongruous elements in a comparison, similar to different.

  45. Another enlightening post, Miss Grammar Queen! Thank you for the examples. Once again I've learned something!!

    By the way, next time you visit, I'll try to keep Myra from harassing you, okay? ;)

  46. I must be sick.


    No temperature. No queasy stomach. No burning throat.

    Yet I was giddy with delight as I read all that grammer info.

    My pet annoyance: the politically correct usage of their instead of his or her. If a person wants their hair cut, they should go to a beauty salon. (Or they should find Gina because she'll snip it for free.)

    Why can't we just say: If a person wants his hair cut, he should go to a salon. Or she should find Gina because she'll snip it for free.)

    Grammar Queen rocks!!!

  47. Now, Ruthy, you know we're good little students! ;)

  48. Uggh, I spelled grammar grammer.

    Spelling correctly consistently isn't my spiritual gift, learned skill, or adorable quirk.

  49. Mary, I'm with Ruthy. I love the photo, too!

  50. MISSY, thank you! Myra is sweet, but she sometimes acts like a bossy know-it-all. I think she has been taking lessons from Ruthy.

    GINA, I so agree with you! We have become a nation of politically correct illiterates, I sadly fear. If the use of a masculine pronoun offends people so badly, then let them simply use both the plural generic pronoun AND a plural verb.

    People who want to get their hair cut should go to a salon, or just ask Gina, who obviously has excellent hair-cutting skills.

  51. I see Grammar Queen has been bantering my name about. See, she just can't admit how much she needs me. I mean, where would she be without me? Who buys her Earl Grey? Who keeps her stocked in chalk and erasers? Who polishes her crown?

    Okay, okay, I admit it. I can't live without her. Although there are days I'd like to try.

  52. Right on, Gina!!

    May I call Mary "Merry Mary Mayhem"? PLEASE? Just once? Or, is that too much name-calling, Grammar Queen?

    (Has anyone told you you're a dead-ringer for Doris Day?)

  53. My, my, what a fitting sobriquet, KC! Mary is indeed the Queen of Mayhem.

    Thankfully our realms do not overlap.

  54. Dear me, Grammar Queen just this moment realized you were referring to moi with the Doris Day comparison.

    Yes, I suppose one might perceive a slight resemblance. However, you must agree Grammar Queen is much more regal in stature.

  55. Alas, Grammar Queen is sharing a computer with Myra today and completely forgot to sign out of Myra's profile and back in with her own.

    Although I must say, Myra looks absolutely stunning in that 1918 attire and her terribly old-fashioned typewriter. Hard to believe writers actually wrote 1,000-page novels on those dinosaurs not so long ago.


    What a way to begin my day. As I believe, I caught a picture of my dreamself (Doris Day) at the chalk, although I am rather saddened that she didn't use proper grammar on the blackboard.

    Oh well

    I didn't get here first. I rarely do because I have an aversion to morning.

    Thanks for the post and the links. I can honestly say I've soaked up a touch of learning today.


    Tina the 2nd



    What a way to begin my day. As I believe, I caught a picture of my dreamself (Doris Day) at the chalk, although I am rather saddened that she didn't use proper grammar on the blackboard.

    Oh well

    I didn't get here first. I rarely do because I have an aversion to morning.

    Thanks for the post and the links. I can honestly say I've soaked up a touch of learning today.


    Tina the 2nd


  58. Great (and enlightening!) post today--thank you Grammar Queen! ~ And since we still have SNOW here in Georgia, I brought some hot spiced peach cider to share--Enjoy! ~ Blessings, Patti Jo (who is still blushing over her post yesterday that had Melanie Hamilton Wilkes "married" to her own brother--GASP!!!) ;)

  59. Proofreading Entry,

    oh Miss Doris didn't spell the you're wrong. My bad... She is the teacher today. Sorry, Grammar Queen. I got a bit thrown listening to the banter between you and Myra.

    Tina II

  60. TINA THE 2ND, welcome as always! So glad Grammar Queen could be of assistance.

    CATMOM, we are so thankful for the cider. It is bitterly cold here in the Midwest as well. A powdery dusting of snow covers the ground, and I, for one, cannot wait for it to be gone!

    Our next class session, if Grammar Queen has her way, shall be held on the sunny beaches of Maui.

  61. Oh, I am simply bristling with excitement! Myra has just assisted me in opening my own Twitter account!

    Please, please, PLEASE consider following me at TheGrammarQueen!

    With any luck, I shall master this bit of modern technology and regularly grace my adoring public with grammatical tidbits to brighten their day!

  62. Thanks, Missy. I'm still stoked about realizing it's actually my great great grandma in one of the pics =D.

    GrammarQueen - I would follow you on Twitter, gladly, if I had a clue how to make it work... I have an account [actually, I think I have three... Not really sure], but past that, it's beyond me... Unless, maybe there's an app for that... Then I might be able to figure it out...

    Captcha: unmyx - what would you want to unmix?



    Tina P.

  64. Oh, Carol, I do understand. These myriad social networking options boggle the mind!

    But sometimes one must simply dive in headfirst and give it the old college try. (Pardon the mixed metaphors.)

    Next winter in Maui!!! Do I hear an amen?

  65. Grammar Queen, I happened to catch some Online responses to a newspaper story (I only read 300 or so of the 78,000 comments, give or take :)

    Somebody started arguing about the uses of "home in" and "hone in."

    What is correct?

    I always say, "If in doubt, leave it out." Find another word :)

    Also don't know whether to rifle through papers or riffle through them?

  66. CATHY, I am delighted to answer your questions.

    According to my Merriam-Webster, 11th edition, "home in" would be correct. It means to accurately return to the source of origin or to proceed toward an objective.

    To rifle would be to ransack with the intention of stealing and carrying away.

    To riffle is to flip through cursorily, as in shuffling cards or leafing through a book.

    So unless you were planning to tear apart someone's office in search of secret papers, probably you would be riffling instead of rifling.


    Usually when I'm writing, a homonym will raise a red flag and I'll think twice, but I admit I sent a manuscript through to my crit partner using peaked whenever my heroine looked around a corner. Ugh. And I knew better.

    What I don't know and can't seem to grasp is the difference between inquiry and enquiry. So I'd appreciate some help on that.

    Thank you Grammar Queen and Myra for another informative post.

    btw Myra, congrats on the Heartsong winner's list. :)

    And Mary - I did a double-take at your pic. Very nice!

    Anita Mae.

  68. Good morning, ANITA MAE--or is it afternoon??? Myra's stomach is growling so loudly that she could surely wake the dead.

    I'm happy to say the answer to your inquiry/enquiry question is as simple as American English versus British English. So, as they say, when in Rome...

  69. Thanks, Anita Mae! It was a lovely surprise. I have to thank Mary for bringing it to my attention.

    And Mary does look absolutely gorgeous in her new profile pic, I have to agree!


    ...oh dear I hoped I spell that right...all caps are so hard to read...

    Should I cursty? Bow at the waist?

    No, a man does that...I'm just so flustered to be in the presence of royalty and I see that so many of you are still dressed up from yesterday. Oh dear...

    I am continually making the mistake of "its" and "it's". Thankfully I have a semi-smart computer who underlines it in green for me.

    I think I better go now, I am so nervous on making a mistake, my fingers keep tripping over themselves.

    *bows herself out of the room*

  71. MARY. MARY, MARY!!!

    I LOVE your new headshot! I nearly didn't recognize you!!!

  72. This comment has been removed by the author.

  73. CASEY, dearest, a simple curtsy is quite an adequate show of respect. Let us not stand on ceremony.

    I am so glad you have found a reliable way to double-check the its/it's problem. Grammar Queen finds this to be one of the most common mistakes she encounters.

    Great post, Queen!
    Oh, how I need your expertise. :)

  75. Grammar Queen, do you happen to know the Punctuation Queen? I think as twin sisters you would help with so many problems :)

    Mary, love the new photo!

  76. JILL, I shall be sure to enter you in the drawing. Should you have any immediate questions, feel free to ask. And thank you for visiting with us in Seekerville!

    EVA MARIE, no, I'm afraid I haven't had the pleasure of being introduced to the Punctuation Queen. Is she a friend of yours? We couldn't possibly be twin sisters, however, as I am an only child.

    And quite honestly, there is only so much room in the universe for royalty. Our egos take up quite a bit of space.

  77. Proofreading Entry, Please!

    I can usually keep all the homonyms straight but I think I have a real problem with dangling participles... I think. I'm so confused I'm not even really sure!

    And what do you do when your character wants to say something real like, 'What do you want me to put it in?', instead of 'In which would you like me to put it?' It's almost too awful for words. Do we really have to keep the grammar in the conversation? Help!

    As for brain space, I think mine is completely consumed by domestic matters (six kids, what was I thinking?) and grammar has gone the way of dinner and a movie on a lazy Saturday. :D

  78. Good afternoon, VIRGINIA. I must agree, dangling participles are a grievous problem, plaguing more writers than I can count.

    You may find some help in my previous post, found here.

    Of course, our story characters definitely do NOT always speak or even think in grammatically correct complete sentences, nor should they be expected to. They are only human, are they not?

    Well...in a manner of speaking.

  79. Great post! Thanks for the helps!


  80. Okay Grammar Queen - I just came across something of a question...

    /curtsies slightly first/

    When you're verbing a noun...

    [That sounds bad, doesn't it?]

    Like Skype. 'I Skyped her', 'I Skype'd her'. While I know proper Grammar would probably be to say 'I sent her a message via Skype', what would be the correct way to write it? Maybe that's a question for the Spelling Bee Queen or even the Puctuation Queen, but since you're here today... =D

    I doubt the ' is the right way to do it but that seems to be my 'natural' inclination... I also overuse ellipses...

    Other examples could include:
    Facebooked, Facebook'd, FBd, FBed
    IMd, IMed, IM'd


    Do you have any thoughts on such things?

  81. Just saw this on a friend's Facebook post:

    Connor's helping me...

    That is also correct, no? Not possessive but a contraction of Connor is.

  82. By the way, "Connor's helping me" would be correct, as "Connor's" is a contraction for "Connor is."

  83. How about filet and fillet.

    That's just STUPID

    or Blonde and Blond

    or mustache and moustache


  84. I have to tell you something that will either make you cringe, laugh out loud, or both. And let me say, too, that I'm pretty ocd when it comes to editing my stuff. (rolling eyes at self) I was posting on my Facebook FANPAGE! of all places and this is what I typed:

    (A picture of) "My new Smoky Mountain mug...just in time to right Tiffany's story!"

    So you see I TOTALLY get your article!


  85. Ooooo

    I know blonde and blond!

    Or at least I know what Google searches several times a year has told me when I forgot...

    Blonde is a girl, blond is a boy!

    It's possible that the Google results were wrong...

  86. Apparently Blogger has misplaced the reply I just attempted to post.

    Back to the question of "verbing" a noun, CAROLM, according to Chicago Manual of Style's online Q&A, it is permissible to use some nouns as verbs. You may want to visit this link.

    Probably the simplest way to make such words past tense is to add -ed. However, in the case of abbreviations such as IM and FB, if -ed causes too much confusion, then perhaps 'd would be better.

    All in all, the objective of good grammar is clarity, so that should be your goal.

  87. I must agree, MARY. "Filet" and "fillet" are utterly confusing! Filet mignon is a tender slice of beef. On the other hand, fillet can be either boneless fish or meat.

    Even more annoying, does one pronounce this word "fih-lett" or "fih-lay"?

    "Blonde" and "blond." CAROLM, your answer agrees with my Merriam-Webster.

    Whenever you come across a word with multiple possible spellings, usually the spelling listed first in the dictionary is the preferred form.

  88. PS - Not because I am stupid, mind you, but because my mind gets tripping. I type so fast sometimes that whichever word my hands are used to typing that's the one that comes out. For example, I often will type "no" instead of "know" or visa versa defending one which way my brain is rutted at the time. Guess that explains why I'm OCD about self-editing. Hehe.


  89. LINNETTE, right or wrong, at least you are writing.

    Bless you, my child.

  90. Okay...what about "fiancee" - Word can't seem to make up its mind which way it wants me to spell it, nor is it consistent using the little accent mark or not. This has been my most frustrating grammar thing of late.


  91. LOL...thank you, Grammar Queen! And bless you! :D

  92. Ah, thank you, LINNETTE. This question has a relatively simple answer.

    Fiancé is a man who is engaged to be married.

    Fiancée is a woman who is engaged to be married.

    My MW includes the accent marks just as shown above.

  93. Bless you! I had no idea one was feminine and one masculine. Sometimes my Word adds the accent mark and sometimes it doesn't. Weird! Now to go back through my manuscript. :D

  94. Someone told me the extra 'e' [like blonde or finacee] always goes to the girl.

    And yes Linette - my Word hates it too :(. It puts the doohickey if I spell fiance but not fiancee or even ex-fiance.


  95. Oy! Carol, is right! That's exactly what I'm talking about. I'm getting 2010 version as soon as I get a story sold to Woman's World. LOL Well, it's nice to dream, anyway....

  96. I have heard the blond is the American spelling and blonde is the British spelling.

    My editor told me to PICK ONE. Not jump back and forth for male and female.

    I'm telling you it's enough to make all my characters have black hair.

  97. Linette-

    I've got 2010 - it gets fiancee right, but not ex-fiance...

    The only reason I was able to get 2010 is that it's sold REALLY cheap to instructors at our college [cheap = 9.99 per computer, limit 1 per instructor plus 14.95 for a back up CD - so both of us for like $35]. Otherwise it would be WAAAAY out of our price range...

  98. Mary - like everyone else - love the new pic! Finished Sharpshooter last night - please tell me whatever you've got coming next will have at least SOME crossover! Took me a while to figure out who Mark Reeves was though - I knew I should know him but I couldn't place him right away :p.

    I did notice the blond thing in your books and wondered about it. I've got a couple of blond/es now - but I think I may be with you - make everyone brunette or red headed :p.

  99. MARY and all, there are some who would say "blonde" used as a noun implies a female, and "blond" as a noun would only be used for a male, while "blond" as an adjective could be used for either one.

    Yes, I know, more confusion added to the mix.

    Interesting. My word verification is "mulators." I wonder if they meant grammar muTIlators?

  100. Oh, Mary! What a pain! Though your editor may have a point. Most readers won't understand the difference and the correct way might actually trip them up thinking there's a typo. Hmmm....what a dilemma!


  101. Carol, really? Ugh! I have 2003 and thought an upgrade would work more accurately. Sigh....

  102. Proofreading Entry (with fear and trembling)

    I'm printing this one....sigh
    MUCH needed.
    Thanks Grammar Queen

  103. Pepper, is that you and your mom? Very pretty! Sweet pic!

  104. Thank you, Your Highness.

    Might I presume on your good graces one more time?

    The color: Grey or Gray?

    Aren't both a correct spelling, if not for the color than something else?

    I do hope I don't appear too ignorant on this issue.

    Thank you.

  105. PEPPER, so nice to see your smiling face again! No need for fear and trembling. Grammar Queen's bark is far more threatening than her bite.

    Grammar Queen is of the opinion that Office upgrades are designed for the primary purpose of generating more income for Microsoft. No doubt they omit one or two tiny but logical improvements in each version, knowing full well they can cash in by enticing users with the promise of something even better in next version.


    I just wrote this sentence.

    When Lanny was done she laid her hands on Clarinda’s shoulders

    I did have
    When Lanny was done she lay her hands on Clarinda’s shoulders

    But Word grammar checked it and said, "Mary You're Stupid."

    Well, which is it? In that sentence... lay or laid.

    I won't be able to write more until I hear so this is a grammar emergency.

  107. CASEY, here again we have two perfectly acceptable spellings. MW does not differentiate, except for the fact that "grey" is simply defined as a "variation of gray." Thus, one would assume "gray" is the more common spelling.

    Unless you are referring to Earl Grey tea, in which case "grey" would be correct.

  108. Mary, Mary, quite contrary--

    Oh, sorry, Grammar Queen got carried away.

    "When Lanny was done she laid her hands on Clarinda’s shoulders" is correct.

    Here we want the past tense of the verb lay meaning to place something down.

    If Lanny were just lying down, then you would write, "When Lanny was done she lay down on the bed and took a much needed nap because Mary had flung her all around the countryside shooting up varmints and men of questionable parentage."


    I keep seeing this in posts, I so suppose that means we're supposed to announce if we want to be included in the drawing. Sorry...a little slow today.


  110. Dear Grammar Queen,

    I love your sense of humor! Or is it humour? Hmm...yet another grammatical dilemma....


  111. Thank you, LINNETTE, dear. Grammar Queen added this stipulation at the end of her post so that anyone who did not feel the need of such services could discreetly exclude themselves from the drawing.

    Though Grammar Queen cannot quite fathom why anyone in his or her right mind would deliberately eschew such a priceless opportunity.

    Speaking of "discreetly," would anyone care to guess the difference between "discrete" and "discreet"?

  112. Linnette,
    Yep, that's my mom.
    Isn't she beautiful!!!

    Remind Ruthy of her pic, k? :-)

  113. I tend to agree with you about the MS Office thing, Grammar Queen. And in this version, they took out AutoSummarize. Not like I used it often, but it was fun.

    I bet the next version will put it back, giving me a reason to buy it...

    I had to look this one up because I didn't know it.

    MW -
    Discreet: Good judgment, unpretentious, modest, unobtrusive, unnoticeable

    Discrete: separate entities and another definition that reminds me why I stopped being a math major after taking Discrete Mathematics

    Let's see if I can come up with a sentence.

    The twins discreetly used the parts in their hair to create a discrete identity.

    Oy. That's bad. But is it right?

  114. Excellent, CAROLM! An A+ for you!

    And a fine job of using the words correctly in a sentence!

  115. Thank you, dear Grammar Queen! I think I need to do a word search. :)

  116. Morning all I have woken to year more devastation I know I have said this to much I am just so tired of crying over whats happening and it just keeps getting thoughts the floods are now in New South Wales to now. Quite a few rivers will peak today its so bad.

    On Weather. here is another good example we have Weather which is really playing havoc with Australia at present and wether which is what my pet male lamb became (my friend had sunny and stormy wethers.)
    and Whether or not Hawaii is ready I am coming very soon.

    On a totally random thought I started Doctors in petticoats last night after finishing Formula for Danger.

  117. AUSJENNY, we are all so sorry about the devastating flooding occurring in Australia.

    Even so, thank you for pointing out yet another group of confusing words. Truth be told, Grammar Queen had to consult her Merriam-Webster to learn what, exactly, a "wether" is.

    Poor little sheepy! I hope it didn't hurt much!

  118. Im sure it did at the time but it had its mummy to comfort it.
    just posted a blog for the floods and hope to gets some comments to encourage some of the people as some of my readers are from the areas affected.

    But while writing I was writing Peak and thinking there are two peak and peek.
    Peak as I used was a summit as in mountain peak where as peek is a look.
    I am now wondering if I should get dressed.

  119. Loves 2 Read Romance - LauraJanuary 11, 2011 at 6:41 PM

    Thanks for the lesson Grammar Queen!! I have trouble with grammar sometimes and will have to check out those sites.

  120. SQUEEEE!!! I LOVE grammar!!! (And, yes, I do believe it is worthy of excessive punctuation. ;))
    Thank you for coming by again, GQ. I was home-schooled by one - well, two really - of your most loyal subjects. Both of my parents were very good at using proper grammar.

    To me the most annoying misusage of words is when people interchange anxious and eager.
    Anxious means to be worried while eager means to be excited.
    The funniest time I ever heard anxious misused was in a sermon. The pastor said, "God is anxious for you to talk to Him." I got a mental picture of God pacing and wringing His hands because I was about to pray. Not very encouraging.

    Anyhow, it looks like I missed out on a great party yesterday. Silly college classes... Oh, well.

    I brought Navy Bean Soup to share (just don't scrape the bottom, it got a little burnt because of my writing daydream, er, brainstorm) and hot, fresh French bread.

  121. Bu Grammar Queen, it's not in the past tense. Lanny is right there. The story is going on right now.

    She lay her hand....it must be something about the contruct of the sentence.

    I only don't know WHAT.

  122. Cassie the Grey Gray word is one where Americans spell it Gray and England and countries that follow Englands lead like Australia spell it Grey.
    Its like we will spell centre and the american spelling is center.
    now this little work had caused me no end of problems this year as in html code I have to use center but hen Im righting a letter here I have to put centre.
    its like realise and realize.

  123. I always need grammar help. Thanks!

  124. Tori Lynn, Eager and anxious are misused all the time! Drives me nuts, but then that's an easy roadtrip.

    Grammar Queen, I've found the questions and your posts fascinating. Winter does that to me.

    Mare, I have to wonder why I was never required to learn the Greek alphabet in college. What was your major?

    Myra, love your photo. Mary's too.


  125. LAURA, I am so glad you "love 2 read romance"! I'm sure you'll find a wealth of helpful information on the Internet.

    TORI LYNN, you make wonderful point about the difference between "eager" and "anxious." The navy bean soup is delicious, thank you!

    MARY, your sentence was cast in past tense, as is most third-person narration. Therefore, Lanny LAID her hands on the other person's shoulders. Trust me. Simply trust me. All will be well.

    AUSJENNY, what is it with Americans having to change the spelling of everything English? Can't we all just agree and get along? For heaven's sake, the Revolutionary War was over two centuries ago!

    Although there is something to be said for royalty.

    CHERYL, you know where to find Grammar Queen if you need her.

    JANET, I'm so glad I was able to brighten your dreary winter day. Oh, and anyone who learned the Greek alphabet in college no doubt majored in fraternity or sorority parties.

  126. Being aussie we are more excited about the Danish Royal family cos Crown Prince Fredrick married an Aussie gal.
    Crown Princess Mary is and Aussie who just gave birth to twins on the weekend. A boy and girl to go with her 2 children who are also a boy and girl. We follow the English royals but we tend to really love the Danish family.

  127. Grammar Queen? Is there a way to bottle you and keep you within reach for all those scratch-your-head grammar situations?? You are way too awesome.

    And smart.

    And clever.

    And downright LOL!!!

    But really, the entire grammer, punctuation, usage thing is a maze at times. I used to parent aid in my son's fourth grade class during composition. By the time the 45 minutes were up, I'd read more 9 year old stories than any one person should consume in one day.

    Glad no one asked me about sight, site and cite after that!

    Grammar Queen, your eloquence, as always is marvelous.

  128. Why, thank you, AUDRA. I find you equally awesome, and I'm so delighted you could stop in this evening.

    And, as I have told Cheryl and other Seekers, you know where to find me anytime you need private tutoring.

    Just remember, my scepter (or sceptre, for the English purists) has a long reach.

  129. Grammar Queen

    Sorry for the late response. There was a college football game between Auburn and Oregon on Monday evening. It was a rather significant game in terms of college football. Auburn won.

  130. Grammar Queen,

    Thanks for the great info. I tagged two of the websites you mentioned for further use.

    How fun to see some of yesterday's costumes. Guess it was an all night party! :)



    Great reminder to be dilligent in my own proofreading. I saved my grammar book from highschool (I was allowed to take it -no stealing involved) and still use it often.


    I am new to the blog but can already tell I am going to learn so much!
    Thank you.


    Proofreading is so important. You can never go through your ms too many times or have too many eyes on it.

  134. So, WALT, which team were you rooting for? I do hope the game ended favorably for you.

    DEBBY, always my pleasure to be of assistance. And I agree, the costume party was delightful. However, Grammar Queen never appears in public without her crown, so I relied on Myra to apprise me of the goings-on.

    T.WILHELM, I am delighted to know you acquired your high school grammar book without acquiring a rap sheet. What a diligent student!

    NANCY, welcome to Seekerville! You are sure to find much wisdom dispensed here. Not to mention an overabundance of calorie-free but oh-so-delicious cyberfood!

    NICOLE, I so agree. We too easily become inured to our own weak areas, which leads to our overlooking blatant errors fresh eyes might catch.


    Thanks for sharing your wealth of knowledge! The help in the grammar department is needed...needing all the help I can get:)

    Words like affect/effect, etc. always mess me up, so the 20 page critique would be a huge help:)


  136. LORNA and MARTHA, so glad you could visit. Grammar Queen is always delighted to be of assistance.