Friday, May 11, 2012

Stickler for Rules (with funky grammar contest)

Update: giveaway closed, winner notified by facebook message. :) Thanks, Ilima!

From now on, ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I shall not put.
-Winston Churchill

I was always one of those annoying kids who went around correcting other people's grammar. When I read Lynne Truss's Eats, Shoots & Leaves I thought I had met my other half. She just seemed to get me and my compulsion to fix (or at least point out) signs with the dreaded apostrophe in place of a plural.


I love that someone actually DID fix this!

But when I started writing seriously, I discovered that all those rules I absorbed about grammar don't matter half as much as I thought they did. I've since read dozens of published books filled with what child-me would point out as grammatical errors.

The thing is, though, that they aren't errors at all. These authors broke the rules on purpose to avoid sentences like Winston Churchill's up there.

When you write fiction, and especially when you write for young people, it seems a whole new list of rules takes the place of the old list. Some of these rules are easy to identify after reading half a dozen books in your chosen genre. Others are more abstract and require additional reading to absorb. But the one that reigns supreme is this:

  • Keep it conversational - If you wouldn't say it in real life, don't make your character say it. That means letting him end sentences in prepositions when it feels natural. And while this is obvious in dialogue, it holds true for narration, too.
Okay, fun time. I want you to scour the internets for the most ridiculous but grammatically accurate sentence you can find. One that insists upon keeping prepositions away from the period shouldn't be too hard to find. Grammarians are word contortionists!

I'll pick the best sentence and whoever posted it gets this:

On amazon

Everyone can participate but only a U.S. entrant will win.


  1. I LOVE that Winston Churchill quote. I found this one on the interwebs:

    Buffalo buffalo whom other Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

    It uses three meaning of the word buffalo-the city in New York, to bully, and the animal. Strange but grammatically correct. :)

    1. That is insane! I never would have thought that was a grammatically correct sentence (or a sentence that makes any sense at all). Wow!

  2. I've already got that book and absolutely loved it! My biggest pet peeve is the neighborhood florist truck for the company 'Floral Affects'. Every time I see it I end up rehearsing a lecture on the difference between affect and effect and imagining myself busting into the warehouse to tell them they've named their company wrong!

  3. Outstanding blog, in my opinion site owners should acquire a great deal out of this blog its very user welcoming. Grammarly review


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