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Ask Authoress

Post  Authoress on Sat Feb 05, 2011 4:47 pm

Okay, folks!

Grammar is the backbone of writing, like barre work is the foundation of ballet. Once you master it, you no longer have to think hard about it while you are penning your stories.

I'll be posting lots of good grammar advice, mythbusters, and even some writing prompts to help you practice. But I'd like to keep this thread active as an ongoing question-and-answer place.

Have a specific grammar question? Post it here! I'll try to check in frequently to answer.

~AUTHORESS
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Re: Ask Authoress

Post  Matthew on Fri Feb 11, 2011 3:21 am

Okay, I'll go first.

What's the possessive form of 'it'? Its or it's?

Thanks!
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Re: Ask Authoress

Post  Authoress on Fri Feb 11, 2011 8:39 am

Scribbler wrote:Okay, I'll go first.

What's the possessive form of 'it'? Its or it's?

Thanks!

OOOOOOO, you've hit on one of my biggest pet peeves--thanks for asking!!

The possessive form of it is ITS.

In fact, the possessive form all OF PERSONAL PRONOUNS never (NEVER!) gets apostrophes.

To wit:

ours, yours, hers, theirs, its

No apostrophes.

The word "it's" is a contraction meaning "it is."

Book recommendation: EATS, SHOOTS, AND LEAVES by Lynn Truss. A humorous and dead-on treatment of apostrophes and commas.
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Re: Ask Authoress

Post  Renée on Sat Feb 19, 2011 3:13 am

Alright, this has been bugging me for a while:

What is the difference between 'affect' and 'effect', and how do I use them correctly? It's been explained to me numerous times, and I look them up in the dictionary, but it never sticks. So if there's any easy-to-remember clue, that would be wonderful. I usually use the right one, but I'd like to know when and why it's correct, rather than testing with the time-honored "that sounds right." Rolling Eyes

Thanks so much! Very Happy
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Re: Ask Authoress

Post  Authoress on Sat Feb 19, 2011 8:49 am

Renee wrote:Alright, this has been bugging me for a while:

What is the difference between 'affect' and 'effect', and how do I use them correctly? It's been explained to me numerous times, and I look them up in the dictionary, but it never sticks. So if there's any easy-to-remember clue, that would be wonderful. I usually use the right one, but I'd like to know when and why it's correct, rather than testing with the time-honored "that sounds right." Rolling Eyes

Thanks so much! Very Happy

Hi Renee!

Good question, and certainly something that a LOT of people mix up. Here's the skinny:

AFFECT is always a verb. For instance:

She was deeply AFFECTED by the death of her grandfather.

How will the scheduling change AFFECT you?

To be sure, you will also see "affected" used as a verbal; that is, a verb that is not being used as a verb in the sentence:

She flashed an AFFECTED grin.

In the above sentence, "affected" is being used as an adjective (modifying the word grin), but because it is actually a verb, we call it a "verbal" in this case.

EFFECT is usually a noun.

The movie's special EFFECTS were awesome.

And you know, that's how I memorized it back in high school. I remembered "special EEE-ffects" and still use that mentally today. There's nothing particularly special about it--LOL! It just worked for me.

The illness had long-lasting EFFECTS on her health.

Now, just to make things a little more confusing (hee): EFFECT is also used as a verb sometimes, but it is admittedly not as common:

The new leadership promises to EFFECT change in the community.

Here, the word means to produce or to bring about.

So basically:

AFFECT is ALWAYS a verb. (Maybe think about the letter "A" -- Affect Always a verb.)

EFFECT is usually a noun but can also be used as a verb:

noun-- eg. special effects
verb-- eg. to effect change

And here are both words in one grand sentence:

How was the audience AFFECTED by the special EFFECTS in the movie?

Hope that was helpful! Smile
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Re: Ask Authoress

Post  Shahira on Sat Feb 19, 2011 2:57 pm

This part of the forum is much needed. Smile

My question is, what's the difference between 'than' & 'then'? I can never tell which one to use. :/
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Re: Ask Authoress

Post  Authoress on Sat Feb 19, 2011 3:19 pm

Shahira wrote:This part of the forum is much needed. Smile

My question is, what's the difference between 'than' & 'then'? I can never tell which one to use. :/

Hi, Shahira!

This is another mistake I see more often than you might think. Here's the difference:

THEN is an adverb telling WHEN (all adverbs answer the question when, where, or how).

First we will eat lunch and THEN we will go shopping.

If you are prepared, THEN you will do well on the exam.

THAN is a comparative word:

The kitten was no bigger THAN my hand.

Your story is longer THAN mine.

Hint: THAN follows a comparative adjective, which will often, but not always, end in "-er".

Her mother was more upset THAN her father.

("more upset" is comparative; you wouldn't say "upsetter" Wink )

Hope that helps!
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Re: Ask Authoress

Post  Stephen on Fri Mar 04, 2011 5:27 am

What does query mean?
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Re: Ask Authoress

Post  Authoress on Fri Mar 04, 2011 8:39 am

Stephen wrote:What does query mean?

Hi, Stephen!

By definition, the word QUERY simply means QUESTION or INQUIRY. (You can tell that these words all stem from the same Latin root, which means "to ask" or "to speak".)

In the publishing industry, a query is a letter written to an agent or editor in order to pitch a completed novel. Since most of the major publishing houses will not accept queries from unagented authors, most of the time "query" refers to a communication with an agent, in the hope of seeking representation.

A query is a one-page business letter containing information about a completed manuscript, including a one- or two-paragraph mini-synopsis of the story line (think jacket flap) and any pertinent information about the author (as it relates to the novel or potential platform).

There are many online resources discussing the form and content of a good query. A good rule of thumb is to also include up to the first 5 pages of your manuscript, pasted into the body of the email (or included in the envelope, if the agent you are querying still accepts snail mail).

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Re: Ask Authoress

Post  dy0ulee on Fri Mar 04, 2011 1:47 pm

Hi Authoress!

I have to ask, when we quote a title at the end of a sentence, do we phrase it as such:

...newest book "MEMORY."

or

...newest book "MEMORY".

I have seen it used both ways, but I'm not sure which is technically correct. I'm more inclined to use the latter. For dialogue tags, it's a case of the former (right?), but I'm not sure why, or if, it is so for titles.
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Re: Ask Authoress

Post  Authoress on Fri Mar 04, 2011 2:06 pm

dy0ulee wrote:Hi Authoress!

I have to ask, when we quote a title at the end of a sentence, do we phrase it as such:

...newest book "MEMORY."

or

...newest book "MEMORY".

I have seen it used both ways, but I'm not sure which is technically correct. I'm more inclined to use the latter. For dialogue tags, it's a case of the former (right?), but I'm not sure why, or if, it is so for titles.

Hi dyOUlee!

Well, the first thing I'm going to point out is that some titles should NOT be in quotes! Titles of books, movies, songs, etc., should be either underlined or, in today's world of easy word processing, italicized.

Titles of chapters, magazine articles, etc., on the other hand, should be in quotes as you have shown above.

So if a title in quotation marks falls at the end of a sentence, the period belongs INSIDE the quotation mark.

Puctuation that IS part of the title also goes inside the quotes, with the period outside.

(Confused yet?)

Examples:

She sang three verses of "Yankee Doodle".

I know the lyrics to "Are You Sleeping?".

Hope this helps! (It confuses me, too, sometimes.)
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Re: Ask Authoress

Post  Maggie on Fri Mar 04, 2011 2:33 pm

Similar to what dy0ulee said, I have a question. With periods and parentheses though.

Would it be:

You may have the orange juice, (if you want, of course).

Or

You may have the orange juice, (if you want, of course.) ?

That's not a very good example but I find myself wondering whether the period goes inside or outside the parentheses.

Thanks!

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Re: Ask Authoress

Post  Authoress on Fri Mar 04, 2011 3:04 pm

Lizzy wrote:Similar to what dy0ulee said, I have a question. With periods and parentheses though.

Would it be:

You may have the orange juice, (if you want, of course).

Or

You may have the orange juice, (if you want, of course.) ?

That's not a very good example but I find myself wondering whether the period goes inside or outside the parentheses.

Thanks!

Hey, Lizzy!

The end punctuation will always go outside the parenthesis. Words in parenthesis are "parenthetical"; that is, they are not a part of the main sentence. So the punctuation does not belong to them; it belongs to the main sentence.

Your first sentence is correct except for the comma after JUICE, which doesn't belong there. Smile
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Re: Ask Authoress

Post  Stephen on Sun Mar 06, 2011 2:14 pm

Authoress wrote:
Stephen wrote:What does query mean?

Hi, Stephen!

By definition, the word QUERY simply means QUESTION or INQUIRY. (You can tell that these words all stem from the same Latin root, which means "to ask" or "to speak".)

In the publishing industry, a query is a letter written to an agent or editor in order to pitch a completed novel. Since most of the major publishing houses will not accept queries from unagented authors, most of the time "query" refers to a communication with an agent, in the hope of seeking representation.

A query is a one-page business letter containing information about a completed manuscript, including a one- or two-paragraph mini-synopsis of the story line (think jacket flap) and any pertinent information about the author (as it relates to the novel or potential platform).

There are many online resources discussing the form and content of a good query. A good rule of thumb is to also include up to the first 5 pages of your manuscript, pasted into the body of the email (or included in the envelope, if the agent you are querying still accepts snail mail).


Thank you Smile I sometimes don't understand a simple word or expression because no one else around me uses it (a disadvantage that you have when you don't live in a country that speaks the language).
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Re: Ask Authoress

Post  Authoress on Sun Mar 06, 2011 5:15 pm



Thank you Smile I sometimes don't understand a simple word or expression because no one else around me uses it (a disadvantage that you have when you don't live in a country that speaks the language).

Must be challenging! Especially with a weird word like "query." (It IS a weird word!)
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Re: Ask Authoress

Post  Stephen on Sun Mar 06, 2011 5:23 pm

Authoress wrote:


Thank you Smile I sometimes don't understand a simple word or expression because no one else around me uses it (a disadvantage that you have when you don't live in a country that speaks the language).

Must be challenging! Especially with a weird word like "query." (It IS a weird word!)

I love learning new things Smile it is challenging because I often switch language in conversations depending on the person I am talking to xD
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Re: Ask Authoress

Post  Matthew on Thu May 12, 2011 6:07 pm

I've got another question:

I seem to have a bad habit of always using way too many commas in my work. Could you give me a list of the correct ways to use commas?

Thanks.
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Re: Ask Authoress

Post  Authoress on Sat May 14, 2011 4:15 pm

Scribbler wrote:I've got another question:

I seem to have a bad habit of always using way too many commas in my work. Could you give me a list of the correct ways to use commas?

Thanks.

Actually, there are too many comma rules to discuss all at once in a blog post. Know what I recommend? The book EATS, SHOOTS, AND LEAVES by Lynne Truss. She's a comma expert! And she covers apostrophes, too. (And she's funny.)

Comma over-usage is common, and it stems from not knowing the rules of when commas are actually needed. Lynne's book is an EXCELLENT deskside companion for any writer struggling with comma usage! Smile
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Re: Ask Authoress

Post  Matthew on Sat May 14, 2011 10:56 pm

Okay, thanks! I'll put the book on my reading list!
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Re: Ask Authoress

Post  Misty on Wed Jun 29, 2011 3:06 am

Hi ya

This is a question that has been bothering me for a while.

When writing a story can you use shorten words like didn't outside of dialogue. e.g Sophie heard clapping but didn't look around until Tyrrell yelled “stop” and Liadan came to a halt.

thanks Smile
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