Good morning, today, I’ve a post by author and public speaker, Tony R Candela I’m certain grammarians everywhere will appreciate. Some may even have comment. If so, please feel free to get in touch with Tony, leave them here on the blog or both.
Here’s Tony with more.
By Tony Candela
Last week I read a book entitled “Rebel with a Clause: Tales and Tips from a Roving Grammarian” by Ellen Jovin (HarperCollins, 2022). The book focuses on English grammar, mostly American, but with an occasional sprinkle from one of more than two dozen languages Ms. Jovin speaks. As she puts it in the Dedication, language is “the complex linguistic glue that binds us together as human beings and distinguishes us from other living creatures.”
The reader will note that in the previous sentence, the period precedes the right quote. Before reading this book, I would have placed the period after the quotation mark. The thing that is both encouraging to me and discouraging at the same time is the flexibility and fluidity of language and Its supporting structure. There can be equally good arguments for using commas, semi-colons, and colons in this way or that, all supported by renowned experts. So, despite our concern about getting it right, there is room to roam.
Another example is in the previous sentence. Many argue that the final object in a list – the item just before the word ‘and’ – should be preceded by a comma as I have done. There is an equally powerful cadre of authorities that say that particular comma is not necessary. I like commas, but Jovin cautions not to follow a rule that says one must use a comma every time one pauses while speaking. For example, “A skeleton walks into a bar and orders a beer and a mop.” When speaking this joke, one should pause after the word ‘beer’ for comedic effect, but no comma is needed in the written version.
Jovin’s chapter on the semi-colon was helpful. Use the semi-colon mainly to bring two clauses that could stand alone as complete sentences conceptually closer together. An example might be: “The brothers were close; whenever one got in trouble, the other was always there to back him up.”
You must also use the semi-colon when the sentence has a list of items, some of which contain commas. An example is: “They traveled to St. Louis, MO; Dallas, TX; and New York City.” (The reader may have spotted the use of the colon to precede the list in my example. I think Jovin would approve.
There is a chapter on when to use ‘farther’ and ‘further’. ‘Farther’ is used to express actual distance; ‘further is used to express the extent to which someone or something might go.
Another chapter covers texting grammar. Jovin admits that the shorthand nature in texting and social media causes the breaking of many rules of grammar. Among the issues are punctuation and use of shorthand like LOL and so many others, all deemed correct in the world of texting. However, Jovin is more dogmatic in her chapter on spacing. There is only one space after the period at the end of a sentence. End of story. On the other hand, the reader will be happy to learn that it is pretty much OK to use contractions. They lend a relaxed and personal touch to the writing.
I’ve saved the best news for last. It is no longer a capital offense to end a sentence with a preposition. No more twisting one’s grammatical self around to say things like “the burden of which I am thinking.” One can now say without fear of recrimination “the burden that I’m thinking about.”
I could go on and on. Suffice it to say that I recommend the book, available on Bookshare or at Amazon.com to everyone who takes their writing seriously. I promise it will enlighten you if not occasionally make your head spin, but Jovin does a wonderful job of keeping it fun. Anyway, she helped this writer to walk away feeling good about his grammar choices and less afraid to consult her book when uncertain about them.
Anthony R. Candela, Author
Saying aloud what should not remain silent.
Stand Up Or Sit Out: Memories and Musings Of a Blind Wrestler, Runner, and All-around Regular Guy
A memoir about life lessons learned, especially through sports
Vision Dreams: A Parable
A sci-fi novella about how a dysfunctional society forces people to go to extremes, including four blind people who seek out artificial vision.
Christian Faith Publishing, 2019
Tony Candela has worked as a Rehabilitation Counselor, supervisor, manager consultant and administrator for more than 40 years in the field of blindness and visual impairment. His work has included promoting literacy and employment of blind persons and a special interest in enhancing the career preparation of blind persons who wish to work in the computer science field. He is a “retired” athlete, loves movies, sports, reading, writing, and music, including dabbling in guitar. Read more at: https://www.facebook.com/anthonyrcandelaauthor
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