Author Topic: Grammar and spellling that make you twitch  (Read 65636 times)

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starry diadem

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Re: Grammar and spellling that make you twitch
« Reply #330 on: October 23, 2013, 02:58:57 AM »

(For the record, sentences in the form "John was running as fast as he could, but the bear was still faster!" are NOT in passive voice!)


I suspect the judge took to heart the advice to look critically at auxiliary and linking verbs - and 'to be' in all its forms is the commonest - and replace them with stronger ones where possible. Strong, direct verbs grab the reader's attention. 

Of course, not all use of auxiliary and linking verbs is passive, and maybe she should have said instead: 'Look hard at your text for the distribution of weak and strong verbs and think about tipping the balance to get maximum impact.'

(I do understand that 'John was running' is in active voice, but 'John ran' is stronger.)
« Last Edit: October 23, 2013, 03:05:51 AM by starry diadem »
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Slartibartfast

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Re: Grammar and spellling that make you twitch
« Reply #331 on: October 23, 2013, 09:32:58 AM »

(For the record, sentences in the form "John was running as fast as he could, but the bear was still faster!" are NOT in passive voice!)


I suspect the judge took to heart the advice to look critically at auxiliary and linking verbs - and 'to be' in all its forms is the commonest - and replace them with stronger ones where possible. Strong, direct verbs grab the reader's attention. 

Of course, not all use of auxiliary and linking verbs is passive, and maybe she should have said instead: 'Look hard at your text for the distribution of weak and strong verbs and think about tipping the balance to get maximum impact.'

(I do understand that 'John was running' is in active voice, but 'John ran' is stronger.)

But not in the same tense.  "John was running along the meadow when the bear jumped out at him" and "John ran along the meadow..." are two different things, and neither has to do with passive or active voice.  Too much passive voice is something a lot of beginning writers have a hard time with, though, so it's one of the more common pieces of writing advice out there - and there are quite a few not-really-new-anymore writers who know not to do it, but are a bit fuzzy on what exactly it is.  I'm guessing this judge was one of that number.

starry diadem

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Re: Grammar and spellling that make you twitch
« Reply #332 on: October 23, 2013, 10:02:35 AM »

(For the record, sentences in the form "John was running as fast as he could, but the bear was still faster!" are NOT in passive voice!)


I suspect the judge took to heart the advice to look critically at auxiliary and linking verbs - and 'to be' in all its forms is the commonest - and replace them with stronger ones where possible. Strong, direct verbs grab the reader's attention. 

Of course, not all use of auxiliary and linking verbs is passive, and maybe she should have said instead: 'Look hard at your text for the distribution of weak and strong verbs and think about tipping the balance to get maximum impact.'

(I do understand that 'John was running' is in active voice, but 'John ran' is stronger.)

But not in the same tense.  "John was running along the meadow when the bear jumped out at him" and "John ran along the meadow..." are two different things, and neither has to do with passive or active voice.  Too much passive voice is something a lot of beginning writers have a hard time with, though, so it's one of the more common pieces of writing advice out there - and there are quite a few not-really-new-anymore writers who know not to do it, but are a bit fuzzy on what exactly it is.  I'm guessing this judge was one of that number.

In your new sentence it's quite clear that 'was running' is in the past continuous tense and yes, in the new sentence that form is perfectly correct and the two verb forms are quite different.  I don't think you had quite the same context, though, in the first example you gave, where the simple past would be stronger. 

I've been writing for years and this is still something I approach critically in my own work at the first and second edits!
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Elisabunny

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Re: Grammar and spellling that make you twitch
« Reply #333 on: October 26, 2013, 04:58:11 PM »
We are at Children's Hospital for LittleBunny's bone marrow transplant.  Down in the lobby, there is a box of knit hats with a sign on it.  The sign reads, "Children love new warm hats!  Please help yourself's.".  :o


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Elfmama

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Re: Grammar and spellling that make you twitch
« Reply #334 on: October 26, 2013, 08:40:22 PM »
We are at Children's Hospital for LittleBunny's bone marrow transplant.  Down in the lobby, there is a box of knit hats with a sign on it.  The sign reads, "Children love new warm hats!  Please help yourself's.".  :o
Best of luck and hugs for you and LittleBunny.
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amylouky

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Re: Grammar and spellling that make you twitch
« Reply #335 on: November 22, 2013, 12:39:46 PM »
Baited breath, instead of bated. I know, it's really common, but it just brings up an image of someone whose breath smells like worms.

Love this poem though, by Geoffrey Taylor. I think it's the only place where "baited" would be the correct spelling.

Sally, having swallowed cheese,
Directs down holes the scented breeze,
Enticing thus with baited breath
Nice mice to an untimely death.

Pen^2

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Re: Grammar and spellling that make you twitch
« Reply #336 on: November 22, 2013, 06:49:05 PM »
I'm holding an introductory English grammar class over the holiday period on top of my regular classes. The guy who made the sign typed, "Learn to use English Grammer Correct! Enrole now!"

 :o

What's worse is that when I brought up the glaringly obvious, he didn't think it was that important. Talk about bad advertising! Yeesh...

AvidReader

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Re: Grammar and spellling that make you twitch
« Reply #337 on: November 22, 2013, 08:31:00 PM »
I go nuts when I hear comparatives, mostly in TV ads, that are incorrectly expressed.  For example, "You will use over/more than 4 times less of our brand X than the other brand Y."  In other words, don't waste your money on brand Y.  4 times something is a larger quantity, not a lesser quantity.  Won't I be using less than 1/4 of brand X than brand Y?

Slartibartfast

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Re: Grammar and spellling that make you twitch
« Reply #338 on: November 22, 2013, 08:38:23 PM »
I go nuts when I hear comparatives, mostly in TV ads, that are incorrectly expressed.  For example, "You will use over/more than 4 times less of our brand X than the other brand Y."  In other words, don't waste your money on brand Y.  4 times something is a larger quantity, not a lesser quantity.  Won't I be using less than 1/4 of brand X than brand Y?

"More than four times less than Y" would literally be X > .25Y - so all it says is "you will need at least 1/4 Y."  Which could mean "0.25000001 times Y" or it could be "X takes fifty times the amount that Y does!"

Yeah, bad wording  :P

Peppergirl

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Re: Grammar and spellling that make you twitch
« Reply #339 on: November 22, 2013, 11:45:21 PM »
I'm holding an introductory English grammar class over the holiday period on top of my regular classes. The guy who made the sign typed, "Learn to use English Grammer Correct! Enrole now!"

 :o

What's worse is that when I brought up the glaringly obvious, he didn't think it was that important. Talk about bad advertising! Yeesh...

Nooooo!  PLEASE tell me you're joking.  :o ::)

NestHolder

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Re: Grammar and spellling that make you twitch
« Reply #340 on: November 23, 2013, 07:32:50 AM »
I am enraged by furniture advertising.  It seems impossible for the voice-overs to say: Four hundred and ninety-nine pounds.  Instead, they say, "Yours for just four nine nine", which makes no sense, is wrong, and—GAH!

There should be a law.   *mutters*  If I were Queen of the World, there would be.

MariaE

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Re: Grammar and spellling that make you twitch
« Reply #341 on: November 23, 2013, 08:02:43 AM »
Baited breath, instead of bated. I know, it's really common, but it just brings up an image of someone whose breath smells like worms.

Similarly "Intensive purposes" instead of "Intents and purposes". I have to sit on SnarkyMaria's hands whenever I see that written down somewhere.
 
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Pen^2

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Re: Grammar and spellling that make you twitch
« Reply #342 on: November 23, 2013, 09:23:08 AM »
I go nuts when I hear comparatives, mostly in TV ads, that are incorrectly expressed.  For example, "You will use over/more than 4 times less of our brand X than the other brand Y."  In other words, don't waste your money on brand Y.  4 times something is a larger quantity, not a lesser quantity.  Won't I be using less than 1/4 of brand X than brand Y?

You remind me of the first panel in this: http://xkcd.com/870/ which, whenever I see it in shops, irritates me to an unreasonable extent.

jaxsue

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Re: Grammar and spellling that make you twitch
« Reply #343 on: November 23, 2013, 12:05:25 PM »
I'm holding an introductory English grammar class over the holiday period on top of my regular classes. The guy who made the sign typed, "Learn to use English Grammer Correct! Enrole now!"

 :o

What's worse is that when I brought up the glaringly obvious, he didn't think it was that important. Talk about bad advertising! Yeesh...

Ugh. I hear a lot of that (people thinking it is unimportant). "You know what they're saying, and that's all that matters," is a common excuse. Er....it does matter, at least in "professional" settings.

jaxsue

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Re: Grammar and spellling that make you twitch
« Reply #344 on: November 23, 2013, 12:06:13 PM »
I am enraged by furniture advertising.  It seems impossible for the voice-overs to say: Four hundred and ninety-nine pounds.  Instead, they say, "Yours for just four nine nine", which makes no sense, is wrong, and—GAH!

There should be a law.   *mutters*  If I were Queen of the World, there would be.

I would totally support your reign!  :)