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Tutorial: English Grammar

Discussion in 'Stories' started by Undead_Lives, Feb 2, 2006.

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  1. Undead_Lives

    Undead_Lives New Member

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    First off, this tutorial is for grammar, not spelling.
    Second, any questions will be answered. If it has to do with grammar, it will be put into the tutorial. If it has to do with spelling, I will answer it but not put it into the tutorial.
    I think that's it...ok on with the tutorial.

    Basic sentence structure:
    Don't write:
    And, But, or Because to start sentences. This is often viewed as bad grammar.
    Instead write:
    Also, However, or Since (respectively) to start your sentences.

    Sentence Fragments
    The most common mistake when writing sentences is not actually writing one. A sentence requires two things, a subject and a verb. Often people will write something like this:
    Don't write:
    A monster was chasing after him. And started to run away.
    Instead write:
    A monster was chasing after him, so he started to run away.
    In the first example, the second sentence is missing a subject (noun). Correcting it just means putting "he" into the sentence, and also I used a comma because it flows much more smoothly written like that instead of having two sentences.
    Ok, also don't forget to have a verb.
    Don't write:
    He large.
    Instead write:
    He is large.
    The first example sounds like it was written by a Neanderthal. The second sounds like it was written my a first grader, but at least it is correct.
    So, to conclude just remember:
    A sentence needs to be talking about something, and that something need to be doing something.

    Unclear Antecedent
    What is an antecedent? Well, it's much easier to use an example to explain.
    Jack played baseball. He loved baseball.
    In these sentences, "He" is the antecedent. Basically it's a pronoun following a noun. Now the problem is that sometimes it is difficult to know who the pronoun is referring to.
    Don't write:
    Jack and John played baseball. He loved baseball.
    In this sentence, who is "He" referring to? It could be either of them.
    Instead write:
    Jack and John played baseball. Jack loved baseball, so he made John play.

    Comma Use:
    We all know not to write run on sentences (at least I hope we all do...). However, using commas to fix this is not the best option. It is still a run on sentence because it drags on. Instead use a combination of commas AND periods to break up your single sentence into numerous ones.

    Extended Comma Use:
    Using a comma in a sentence when you change ideas is not proper grammar. Instead, use a semicolon ( ; ), a conjunction (like "and" or "but"), or a period to separate the ideas.
    Don't write:
    We watched meteors, they were beautiful
    Instead write:
    We watched meteors; they were beautiful.
    OR
    We watched meteors, and they were beautiful.
    OR
    We watched meteors. They were beautiful.

    Unnecessary Words
    Unnecessary words are words that basically are garbage. They do not need to be put into a sentence, and removing them makes your sentence much more concise.
    Don't write:
    He turned to the left like any man would.
    Instead write:
    He turned to the left.
    Eliminating these words will make your writing more vigorous.
    Some examples include:
    "the fact that"
    "who is"
    "which was"
    A much more detailed explanation can be found in Elements of Styles Part III #13 "Omit Needless Words" (link at bottom)

    Paragraph Writing:
    Make sure the topic you use to start your paragraph is basically the same one you end on. Basic paragraph structure goes like this: Intro sentence, describing, closing.
    NOTE: When writing about a series of events, this may or may not apply.
    Don't write:
    I went to the market. The dog was huge, with big claws and a mean look.

    Undefined words:
    Undefined words are words that replace something defined. For instance, "something" is an undefined word because the "something" indicates well, something undefined :p
    Now, if you are writing and you have already stated what it is you are talking about, don't use undefined words.
    Don't write:
    Food that comes from Jamaica is great. For instance, rum is a specialty down there. Things like that are also tasty.
    Instead write:
    Food that comes from Jamaica is great. For instance, rum is a specialty down there. Other food from Jamaica is also tasty.
    Notice that the entire phrase "things like that" was replaced. This is because both things and that were undefined words. The word like was discussed earlier.
    Replacing undefined words with defined words helps to make your writing become clear and more precise.

    General Writing Structure:
    Speech:
    All shifting of speech should make a new paragraph.
    Don't write:
    "He went to get Ralph," said Johnny. "Where's Ralph?" asked Jim.
    Instead write:
    "He went to get Ralph," said Johnny.
    "Where's Ralph?" asked Jim.

    Structure of Speech:
    Don't write:
    "I wonder where Jim went." thought Ralph.
    Instead write:
    "I wonder where Jim went," thought Ralph.
    Notice that the comma replaces a period. Other punctuation marks such as ! or ? do not get replaced.

    Another situation like this is when you deal in the opposite situation.
    Don't write:
    Jim asked "where's my lunch?"
    Instead write:
    Jim asked, "Where's my lunch?"
    Notice that the comma is put before the speech. Also, the speech is capitalized.

    Titles:
    All titles are capitalized, because they replace the name of that person. You refer to someone as "Lord" but say, "he's a lord of the country". In the second case, you do not capitalize it because you are not referring to him as "Lord" but "a lord".

    Capitals:
    Capitals are used at the beginning of each sentence, and with proper nouns. Proper nouns include names of places (like "Venice"), names of people (like "Tom"), and names of things (like the company called "Microsoft"). Don't forget your capitals, and if you aren't sure, at least either capitalize, or don't capitalize. Don't switch back and forth between capitalizing ever.

    When To Use Certain Words
    Who or Whom?:
    Yes, the English language still uses whom. But when do you use it? Well, let me give an example.
    Don't write:
    I turned around to see who it was that was calling me.
    Instead write:
    I turned around to see whom it was that was calling me.
    In essence, this is what Word says. "Use "who" or "whoever" as a subject in a sentence. Use "whom" or "whomever" as an object in a sentence or after a preposition.
    Now, what are prepositions? Examples are: at, by, with, from, for, and in regard to. It is also suggested that you do not end a sentence with a preposition.

    Its or It's?:
    It's is a contraction for "it is" and its is possessive. Examples:
    Don't write:
    Its sunny.
    Instead write:
    It's sunny.
    And the second example:
    Don't write:
    It's color isn't right.
    Instead write:
    Its color isn't right.

    Your or You're?
    Your is possessive, while you're is short for you are.
    Don't write:
    Your turning blue!
    Instead write:
    You're turning blue!
    Also:
    Don't write:
    It is you're bicycle.
    Instead write:
    It is your bicycle.

    Their, There and They're
    Their is possessive, there is indicating a place, and they're is short for they are.
    Don't write:
    The hat is their.
    Instead write:
    The hat is there.
    Don't write:
    Their going to get caught.
    Instead write:
    They're going to get caught.
    Don't write:
    There house is on fire.
    Instead write:
    Their house is on fire.


    Miscellaneous:

    A, not An
    Don't write:
    An unit
    Instead write:
    A unit.
    Now you may wonder why? The reason is simple. The word "unit" has a u sound that sounds like "yu" instead of "uh". When this happens, the u is treated as if it really was "yu" and thus you don't put an before a word that starts with y.
    Other words like "unit":
    Unicycle
    Unite


    Want to learn more? Strunk & White's Elements of Style is now online. Yes it's an old book (almost 100 years old in fact) but it still has a lot of good information.
    Elements of Style
    Fladian's recommendation:
    www.fictionfactor.com

    More will be added as questions are answered and as I go along and find more ideas.
     
  2. Arkidas

    Arkidas New Member

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    This is a good tutorial and I know it will come in handy for allot of people.
    Though I'm just wondering if that "I wonder where Jim went," wondered Ralph. wouldn't sound better if you would write it like "I wonder where Jim went," thought Ralph.
    Perhaps I am wrong but I just thought I had to add this.
     
  3. Jacek

    Jacek New Member

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    Thanks for tutorial!
     
  4. Fladian

    Fladian New Member

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    Not as long as I expected it to be. I was hoping to kill some time with it now, because I'm having a little after-taste of a recent match. Not to mention the fact that I still can't concentrate properly.

    Oh yeah, Undead. The PM you'll get from me might have some nice additions to it. I'll leave it to you what you find most useful.
     
  5. Kem Rixen

    Kem Rixen New Member

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    Some of the things meantioned here vary depending on what type of grammar you follow. But besides that it seems to be fine. Could you space out the speech and structure of speech section like the others, I'm having trouble concentrating and big clumps like that slow me down, I couldn't get through it in this state of mind.
     
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