Posted tagged ‘grammar’

It’s Summertime! Less Time Than Before.

June 8, 2009

tre-coverFor the past couple of weeks and probably for the next couple, we have been out-of-pocket–traveling to graduations and other family-related events. For this reason (and others we will keep to ourselves) I have failed to post frequently to this blog. (That’s my confession.)

However, I have been quite busy out in the real world and on LinkedIn making connections to people who can potentially provide me business. So I’ve been active.

Feel free to contact us at On the Mark Writing if you or your company need a well-written press release, a carefully-crafted press kit, marketing collateral, or editing services.

In this down economy, if you are unsure of the process of writing news releases or marketing collateral (i.e. sales letters) why not get a professional writer to create them for you? News releases are an excellent way to get people to talk about your business and subsequently driving traffic to your website. The key is conversations. If you create a dialogue between your business and your customers or clients, ultimate those conversations will create revenue in your pocket.

How ’bout it?

Problems with Prepositions

August 13, 2008

I hate, hate, HATE it when someone says “Where do you work at?” or “We’ll meet you where you are at!” Ending a sentence with a preposition, I have always thought, is a big no-no. However, it sounds rather strange when I ask my dog, “At what are you barking?”

I have been getting Jane Straus’s (I’m not completely sure about the apostrophe placement, here) e-newsletter about grammar and punctuation for quite some time, but today’s tip is truly a nugget of wisdom:

Prepositions are words that often show direction: below, above, over, under, around, through, in, out, between, among, to, toward(s). Other common prepositions include of, for (also sometimes a conjunction), from, with, like (also sometimes a verb).

Rule: You shouldn’t use or end a sentence with an unnecessary preposition, i.e., when the meaning is clear without it. Sentences may end with necessary prepositions.

Correct: That is something I cannot agree with.
With is a necessary preposition.

Correct: How many of you can I count on?
On is necessary.

Incorrect: Where did he go to?

Correct: Where did he go?
To is unnecessary because the meaning is clear without it.

Rule: Don’t follow like with a subject and verb because prepositions are followed only by nouns that act as the object of the preposition. Use as or as if or as though instead of like when a subject and verb follow.

Correct: I wish I could be more like her.

Incorrect: It doesn’t look like she will show up for dinner.

Correct: It doesn’t look as if (or as though) she will show up for dinner.

So, please, don’t end your sentences or questions with a preposition — but if you do, make sure it is NECESSARY.

How ’bout it?

Carefully Not Casting Stones

March 11, 2008

tre-cover.jpgDuring her South-by-Southwest (SXSW) interview of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, profiled Business Week writer Sarah Lacy was heckled by Facebook enthusiasts as she asked questions. She was noticeably unsettled by members of the audience shouting disruptively, “Ask something interesting!” and “Let US ask the questions!”

After the interview, Lacy fired back via Twitter, “Seriously screw all you guys! I did my best to ask a range of things.” Social networking strategist Jay Deragon makes a very good point in today’s post: “When people attack others it typically represents the desire or need for one to put others down as an attempt at putting themselves up. In reality when we attack others we are actually putting ourselves down.”

Think about that. Really think about it. If we think back in our lives, we come across times when we were insulted by someone who only wanted to insult us to make himself appear to be more athletic, intelligent, handsome (you can insert any adjective to express what the other person wanted to feel).

Personally, I pride myself on grammar. It’s a passion of mine, the same way cars or politics are passions for others. I graduated with a degree in English and Journalism, so I learned not only what to write and what not to write, but also how to write what I do so that it can be understood the first time it is read. However, this does not mean that I am perfect – I’m far from it. When my son comes home from school to write story, he reminds me, “Daddy, you can’t start a sentence with the word ‘and’.”

And because he’s just learning how to write, and grammatical rules are new to him, I let it go. It was not until in college that I started to use and at the beginning of sentences and paragraphs. A journalism professor said on numerous occasions, “Paragraphs need transitions. There’s nothing wrong with using the word and as that transition.”

There really is no need to show publicly someone that his/her grammar is incorrect, unless, as Deragon says, you are a teacher.  Most of the time, it’s best to remember that just because something is true, it doesn’t necessarily need to be said aloud.

Rarely, do I point out someone’s grammatical errors publicly. Most of the time, I don’t point them out to the author or speaker – even when it’s a one-on-one situation. However, when I find an error in the blog post or marketing collateral of someone whom I respect, I will, most times, send an email to the author rather than drawing attention to the flaw publicly in the comment section.

I agree with Mr. Deragon that when one publicly points errors out, or shows someone else’s deficiencies in some area, these actions are to make that person feel more important or better about themselves, in some way. But when someone comes us to say, “Oh, you’ve got spinach in your teeth,” it’s probably not to make us small or less than competent, but rather it is to make our image look the best it possibly can.

How ’bout it?

Why We Do What We Do (continued…)

February 28, 2008

writer_on_beach.jpgWhen I was 16 years-old, I suffered a severe head injury resulting from an automobile accident, which left me in a coma for a month. Only after four full weeks of being unresponsive to pain stimuli did I begin the long and arduous process of the emergence from it – only to find myself unable to walk or speak. If it hadn’t been for the Grace of God, I would not be where I am today.About three to four weeks after that, I finally regained the ability to take a few cautious steps with the help of therapists and family members. I was truly blessed to have a wonderful team of doctors, surgeons and therapists and am still blessed to have a phenomenal family which encouraged and rooted for me every step of the way.After many different neuro-rehabs, I succeeded in day-to-day function that was/is almost normal. I still have a few residual problems resulting from my head injury, but for the most part, I am able to keep them under control or hidden from those I meet.Do I still lose my temper irrationally? Yes. Do I still have urges to say or do inappropriate things? Most certainly. But coming up on the 19th anniversary of the accident, I have determined in what areas I excel, and I have gone into business for myself doing what I love.If you’ve not already guessed, I love to write. Friends kid me about having OCD when it comes to grammar and punctuation, and on more than one occasion, I have been called a grammarian.Grammar is what I do. It’s what I know. It’s what I love. Some people are passionate about cars or politics, and it just so happens that I’m passionate about grammar. It’s my bread and butter.

We’ve all read sentences like, “Can you here me KNOW?” talking about the Verizon catch-phrase, or “The teacher graded the students TESTES!”These people needed editors, and I have the uncanny ability to find problem areas and the knowledge to get them fixed. Majoring in English and Journalism, I learned not only what to write and what not to write, but also how to write so that I can be understood the first time someone reads it.How ’bout it?

The Communications Factors and The Relationship Economy

January 22, 2008

comchart.gifWith the emmergence of The Relationship Economy, people are beginning to ask themselves, “How do I capitalize in this new economic system?” The main trait of those people and businesses which have led the way to the Emergence of The Relationship Economy is that they all have created and maintained relationships with others.

How have they done it?

One of the major keys to nurturing relationships with others online – through Facebook, LinkedIn, Link to Nashville, etc. – is to have meaningful conversations with those who can receive and contribute value to their own personal networks. Every one of us has a personal network; from friends, members of the same church, neighbors and family.

 To foster relationships online with “relationship capital” conversations of some sort are required. The Communications Factors play a major role in the conversations. Whether they are facilitated by videos, blogs, emails, or social networks, the conversations need to be carefully crafted so that the message remains clear no matter what kind of day the recipient is having.

We all have read emails and thought, “What’d he mean by that?” Sarcasm and dry humor doesn’t come across well without face-to-face communications, so we created “emoticons” or simple keystrokes to show our intent: colon and closing parenthesis produces : ) or jk is understood as “Just kidding.”

But beyond these quick shorthand signals which were readily adopted by the internet generation, there is really no way to create/establish and maintain relationships other than through word choice and sentence structure.

Granted, if someone gets offended by an email a friend sent, the worst thing that could happen would be the loss of a friend. However, in the business world, if a large segment of the consumer is offended by an ad-campaign, Millions of dollars could be lost, possibly never to be recovered.

The Relationship Economyis determinate on the number of quality relationships that a business or individual has with others who can ultimately provide value – directly or indirectly – to one’s own personal network. The quality relationships can be created and maintained by having conversations with others who share similar likes, dislikes, or interests. In turn, those conversations – one to one, then to millions – must be made crystal-clear through the knowledge and understanding of the language (i.e. rules of grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.).

How ’bout it?

Answers to Today’s Quiz

December 12, 2007

If you don’t have the slightest idea about the quiz, click here and read the post which comes up before you continue to read this post.

  1. The snow does’nt rise any higher than the horses’ fetlocks. [more than one horse] It should be “doesn’t” since the apostrophe forms a contraction of does not.

  2. For a bus driver, complaints, fare disputes, and robberies are all part of a days work. Should be day‘s, since the work belongs to the day. It could effectively be written “all part of the work of a day.”

  3. Each day the menu features a different countries’ dish. The article “a” shows that it is only one country which has food featured on the menu. Therefore the correction “country‘s” should be made.

  4. We cleared four years accumulation of trash out of the attic; its amazing how much junk can pile up. The accumulation was of four years, and therefore years needs to be possessive: “years’ .”

  5. Booties are placed on the sled dogs feet to protect them from sharp rocks and ice. [more than one dog] Since sled dogs is plural, the apostrophe alone should be added to form “dogs’ .”

  6. Sue and Ann went to a party for a friend of theirs’. There shouldn’t be an apostrophe in this sentence. Their is already possessive, and so is theirs, so no apostrophe should be used in this case. Don’t confuse this with the contraction, “there’s” as in, “there is ice on the window.” The apostrophe in there’s takes the place of the -i and forms a contraction.

  7. Three teenage son’s can devour about as much food as four full-grown field hands. The only difference is that they dont do half as much work.“Sons,” in this sentence aren’t give possession of anything. Therefore no apostrophe is needed. However, the word “dont” actually needs an apostrophe because it is the contraction of the words “do” and “not.” The apostrophe takes the place of the -o and allows the two words to be squished together.

  8. Ethiopians’s meals were served on fermented bread. Ethiopians is plural, and therefore only requires the apostrophe to make it possessive. The correct plural form of Ethiopians is Ethiopians .

  9. Luck is an important element in a rock musicians career. Again, we are talking about only one musician, so the possession belongs to him/her. The correct possessive form of ONE musician is musician‘s.

  10. My sister-in-law’squilts are being shown at the Fendrick Gallery. This one is a little tricky. Sister-in-law needs to be possessive, so the correct form is sister‘s-in-law. Actually, there is nothing wrong with that sentence. If the quilts belonged to TWO or MORE in-laws, then you would need to have sisters-in-law’s, I THINK. DOES ANYONE WHO READS THIS BLOG KNOW WITH ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY? I welcome comments and advice. I just really don’t know.

 How ’bout it?

AARP: Allowed Apostrophe Rules, Please!

December 12, 2007

comma.jpg

The apostrophe, or its correct use,  has been a thorn in the side for many businessmen and women who pursued a business degree rather than an English degree. Fortunately, or unfortunately, some would say, there are others in the workforce who pursued English as a discipline rather than Business Administration. It just so happens that I am one of those grammatically anal twits who cringe every time they hear or read a sentence which is not grammatically correct.

               So today, I’m going to provide you, the readers of this blog, with a “quizzie.” Don’t ask what I call tests. What I would like for you to do is to edit the following sentences and correct the errors. If the sentence is correct, just write correct. Actually, none of the sentences are correct.

  1. The snow does’nt rise any higher than the horses’ fetlocks. [more than one horse]

  2. For a bus driver, complaints, fare disputes, and robberies are all part of a days work.

  3. Each day the menu features a different countries’ dish.

  4. We cleared four years accumulation of trash out of the attic; its amazing how much junk can pile up.

  5. Booties are placed on the sled dogs feet to protect them from sharp rocks and ice. [more than one dog]

  6. Sue and Ann went to a party for a friend of theirs’.

  7. Three teenage son’s can devour about as much food as four full-grown field hands. The only difference is that they dont do half as much work.

  8. Ethiopians’s meals were served on fermented bread.

  9. Luck is an important element in a rock musicians career.

  10. My sister-in-law’s quilts are being shown at the Fendrick Gallery.

How’d you do? Were the errors pretty evident, or did you have to go back and re-read the sentences before you found them? I will post the corrected version later today, so check back!

How ’bout it?