1.23.2015

Grammar Talk #1

Hello, hello!  As promised, I am here today to write the first post of a new series I'm doing about grammar, good writing, and anything else that has to do with English.  These posts are going to be super laid-back and not very structured, and most of the time I'll just share grammar-related stuff I've found.

For this first installment, I have a grammar mistake to share (read: laugh about) and some pretty amazing bits of writing from books I've been reading recently.


I took this picture a while ago of a remote control helicopter my cousin got for his birthday.  Now granted, it was probably made in China, and I'm assuming their grasp of the English language isn't stellar, but I just had to laugh.  Just in case the people who designed the packaging are reading this, the correct wordage here would be: easier to control, or more easy to control, though the first sounds better.  You're welcome. *wink*

On the subject of grammar, and since my book review this week was on The Glamour of Grammar, I want to share a paragraph from it that just makes my grammar-ly heart sing.  It's also kind of funny, which is never a bad thing.

Here, the author was trying to illustrate the power of punctuation (alliteration unintended) by showing a few famous telegraphs.  As you know, when sending a telegraph, the point was to keep the words to a minimum, so the sender had to economize.  My favorite of all of these is the last one.  Makes me happy.

I've been doing lots of reading in the last couple weeks in trying to get through my books for this month.  I spoke about The Glamour of Grammar earlier this week, and whenever I read books like that about writing or grammar, I automatically become more conscious of and alert to good writing.  Here are a couple instances where the writing stopped me in my tracks (er, page?).

This one is from The Girls of Atomic City, my third book to review this month which is taking me longer than I would like.  But this paragraph...

Sometimes I read something that just makes me marvel at words and the beauty they create when an author fits them together so expertly.  Look at that: "the hydrogen in the vinegar slammed into the bicarbonate..." What an awesome verb!  If you have ever put baking soda into vinegar, you would know that slammed is the perfect word to describe the reaction between them.  A good active verb can absolutely make a sentence.  Throughout the entire highlighted sentence, the author uses several powerful verbs: slammed, transformed, releasing, expanding, resulting.  Active verbs can be the vehicle for a sentence that sounds like the reaction it's describing.  The introduction of such a strong verb as slammed right in the beginning provides the launching point for the sentence, which sounds like a chemical reaction itself.  I love that.  

And finally, one more amazing use of words I found this week that just amazed me.  The sentence comes from a book I'm reading this month for the Snagged at the Library reading challenge, and it's called Garment of Shadows by Laurie R. King.  The writing is fantastic.  Here's the sentence:
"The brilliance was painful, even though the sky was grey with unshed rain." (King, 5)
Look at the way the author describes the sky.  "...grey with unshed rain."  Isn't that beautiful?  To think of the grayness of the sky as being caused by rain that has not yet fallen.  Unshed rain.  When it rains, the sky sheds the water.  Just by using that one little word, the author immediately brings an image to the reader's mind.  I love it when a writer uses unfamiliar descriptions to describe something utterly familiar.  I'd never thought of rain as the sky shedding water, but I will now.  When writing is such that it not only provides a vehicle for whatever the writer wants to say but enriches the reader's comprehension and his or her vocabulary, I think that is the hallmark of good writing.  And because of that sentence, I am bound to love this book, whether I enjoy the story or not.

And that concludes this long rant of my nerdy obsession with writing and grammar!  These posts will probably be monthly and in largely the same unstructured format (oxymoron?).  Thanks for reading, and I will be back this weekend with an update on War & Peace.  xo, Ella

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