Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What's Up Wednesday

I'm taking an online grammar course from the local community college. Why? Because if I'm going to intentionally break rules (as I often do), then I better be clear on what the rules are.

I have a good working knowledge of grammar, sure. You absorb a lot just by reading, and as a writer, you have a natural instinct for what works. So I know all about possessives, conjunctions, homophones, compound sentences, etc. But there are a lot of grey areas, especially when it comes to fiction. So I just want to get it straight in my head once and for all. It will make me feel better.

Speaking of grammar, here's some interesting news about the controversial serial comma:
Consider the story that is told of Tom, Dick, and Harry, who inherited a million dollars from their aunt. Since the will was written to “Tom, Dick and Harry,” the judge awarded half a million to Tom and, absent the comma, considered Dick and Harry a unit, making them split the other half. It’s not wrong to leave it out. The Brits do it all the time, and journalists are taught to ignore it. The reader may even understand exactly what you said if you leave it out. On the other hand, the reader may do as the judge did and choose another possibility, changing your meaning irreparably. Putting the comma back in before the final and makes you the authority, not the reader.
To read the whole article, visit PNWA's Author Magazine.

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