Questions tagged [grammar]

Questions about the rules of grammar, and how to properly apply them to writing.

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Parenthesis Types in Fiction

What's the general approach to using parenthesis (the grammatical construct, not the punctuation mark) in fiction? I have an internal "ranking" of them: Comma-delineated parenthesis, like this, is ...
9
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2answers
2k views

'This one' as a pronoun

I'm writing a story in English but I'm not a native. I’m a Brazilian Portuguese speaker. It bothers me how repetitive and ambiguous pronouns can be. In my language we can use the equivalent to ‘this ...
15
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5answers
2k views

Is there any difference between these two sentences? (Adverbs)

I'm just trying to work around the whole "Adverbs are the devil" rule. Is there any difference between these two lines in regards to writing quality: He smiled patronisingly at them And He had ...
6
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5answers
226 views

Trudy said - or - said Trudy?

Hope someone can tell me if there are any "rules" about placement of the verb 'said.' As any avid reader knows, 'said' regularly appears before and after the subject who is speaking. Is there any real ...
3
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2answers
184 views

When should the dialogue reference be written, before or after the dialogue?

This might be a very trivial question but I don't know what to google to get an answer so asking anyways. In this dialogue; "I have such a miserable cold, your sarcastic remarks are hardly ...
1
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3answers
98 views

What tense to use for events that are still happening?

The question is similar to this but the answers does not answer me. In my general fiction novel, which is told in first person singular past tense, I encounter moments where I am confused whether to ...
2
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5answers
206 views

Is there a way to improve my grammar without so much cost? [closed]

I'm definitely poor at English and I always have grammatical errors. After posting a question about what apps can I use to start writing my stories, I searched in this site if how can I improve my ...
1
vote
0answers
102 views

Is there a prefix for 'old'? [closed]

I am writing a sci-fi novel in which humanity has struggled to survive in colonies throughout the solar system after the Earth becomes uninhabitable. I am writing a passage about a main character's ...
1
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2answers
114 views

Grammar of, in dialogue, someone quickly negating a previous word?

For example, let's say that someone says a word, but then immediately "corrects" it to a different word. Do you use a comma, an em dash, or what? In addition, if it's at the beginning of a ...
1
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3answers
218 views

Using in' rather than ing in third person omniscient

The characters I'm working with not only speak in rural slang [i.e. frequently drop the 'g' on words ending in 'ing'] but, as a third person omniscient, I also have them thinking in it. [Thinkin' in ...
2
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2answers
62 views

How can I learn about syntax from the point of view of a poet?

Are there any resources that teach syntax aimed at creative uses? I find that having words to describe what I'm doing as a poet is very useful, so I want to talk about the different sort of ...
11
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3answers
1k views

How to handle characters who are more educated than the author?

This is inspired by a few things that have been breaking my immersion when reading Worm. The main protagonist is a teen, and most chapters are first-person POV, so grammatical casualness fits. I don'...
7
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4answers
175 views

Capitalization after use of colon?

This is a sentence from a current writing project detailing how people in jail feel about reading. It provides an escape from the reality of what lies before them: time. Should "time" be capitalized?...
2
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2answers
765 views

Where does the comma go when using 'but'?

In English, I can never remember where to put the comma when using the conjunction word, but. For example: I'd like to stay home and read a book, but I need to pick up some cat food. Jenny asked not ...
1
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4answers
3k views

Why end sentences with commas instead of periods when the sentence is in a quote?

I've seen styles where writers end sentences with commas if it is inside double quotes and styles where writers end sentences with periods. For example: "She's late again." mumbled Jason. ...
2
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2answers
2k views

When not to use commas before dialogue (and capitals)

I'm struggling with when to omit the comma before dialogue (as well as when to use capitals) in fiction writing. My understanding is that you would omit the comma before/after something like "he says" ...
9
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2answers
2k views

When quoting, must I also copy hyphens used to divide words that continue on the next line?

I want to quote a text in which re of the word relationships is on one line while lationships is on the next, and a hyphen follows re (re-) to indicate that the word continues on the next line. When I ...
2
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1answer
52 views

Crowdsource feedback for research articles

Are there crowdsourced feedback platforms, or does somebody know where I can find somebody that does not ask a lot of money for checking some research articles that I have written for mistakes in ...
1
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2answers
56 views

Using a possessive pronoun before using its antecedent in a poem

I was seriously wondering if it's a problem to use the antecedent, which is "Mr Spooner", after the possessive pronoun "his". Also, I am wondering if we can use "his" without ever using an antecedent. ...
5
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1answer
36 views

Capitlization of A Named Experiment

I have an experiment which we call 'the krypton experiment'. In referring to the krypton experiment, should it be capitalized? e.g. The Krypton Experiment was used as a source of benchmark data. or ...
5
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3answers
243 views

How to indicate that the source language is gender-neutral?

The source language in question is Standard Chinese. It is a gender-neutral language. One big thing that English speakers complain about English is the gendered pronoun, namely the third person ...
0
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1answer
146 views

Referring to a diagram

In a math book, should I write "diagram 3" or explicitly "diagram at the figure 3", when referring to a diagram in a displayed figure? (The title of the figure (as autogenerated by LaTeX) is "Figure 3....
8
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2answers
549 views

How many liberties can one take with syntax and grammar rules when writing poetry?

I've begun writing a small fable in verse for my girlfriend, whereas she gets one part of the story for each day before Christmas starting December 1st. She likes it, however she tells me nearly each ...
4
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3answers
102 views

Using Pronoun 'It' repetitvely for emphasis?

I'd like to know if using "It" repetitively (for emphasis) in this context is okay grammatically. TV has become the modern day baby sitter. It is raising our children. It is dictating the ...
1
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2answers
298 views

Comma before names of people or titles

I am wondering whether it's necessary to use commas in the sentences below when addressing or introducing someone: “You look after each other, okay children?" “You look after each other, okay, ...
15
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8answers
6k views

Why does using this “-ing” verb construction make my writing weaker?

I had to write a scholarship essay, wherein I wrote this sentence: Over the ensuing years I read as much as I could, trying to increase my knowledge and understanding of my own language. I sent it ...
0
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3answers
120 views

Using a grammatically incorrect tense for stylistic effect

Immanuel Kant has been born in Europe. I heard you can't use the Present Perfect for dead people, so can I use it to indirectly state how influential Kant was (as if he were Immortal, or that he ...
7
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6answers
9k views

Software for determining verb tense

When I write fiction, or even technical reports, I have a very difficult time catching myself unintentionally switching verb tenses. Does software exist that highlights verb tense (either by colour-...
2
votes
4answers
121 views

Replacing adverbs

I understand the reasons so many people have dislike for adverbs in writing, but I'm struggling with how to find a real balance. For example, these adverbs can die: "He ran quickly" is easily ...
22
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9answers
4k views

How can I improve my sentence construction or flow in general writing?

Can anyone suggest resources or techniques I can use to improve my sentence construction when writing? I am a native English speaker and fairly well educated, but confess I didn't pay much attention ...
11
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5answers
2k views

Should I start a new paragraph after a dialogue if the action is being taken by a new person?

I am currently editing an original work of fiction, and one of the things I'm having the most trouble with is dialogue and paragraphs after certain character's actions. I know it sounds a little ...
3
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5answers
71 views

Should I change from past to present tense to state a fact that continues into the present and is unyielding?

Within narration in past tense, should a statement of a universally true fact be in past tense or in present tense? For example, in the short text: It was late afternoon in Zubrin. The air was ...
6
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5answers
207 views

What are the chances that agents or publishers will accept my manuscript if there are some grammatical errors in it?

English is not my native one, but I can talk and write with it, but maybe not as well as I would like to. Many readers have told me that my stories I wrote are really good, but still, I make some ...
15
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3answers
3k views

Should the name of a mythological creature be capitalized?

The name of the mythological creature in my novel is "manananggal". When I'm referring to it, should I capitalize what it is?
1
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5answers
237 views

How can I state what is written on a sign?

Is it okay to write: "Shop Name", read a sign hanging above the shop. Should I use italics for the shop name or use any other type of formatting? I wasn't sure how to do this. This is for fiction.
1
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4answers
128 views

When is it okay to say the word “now” in a past tense story?

I’ve seen it done in Harry Potter I just don’t understand when its okay to do it, like can I say something like “John walked away from the house and was now walking along the road” or not? When is it ...
3
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1answer
129 views

Punctuation when using inline dialogue

I am a bit crazy about punctuation and I have a question that I'm struggling to find a consensus on. For dialogue (especially in fiction), I always use the standard format: "I told you I wanted ...
-5
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3answers
140 views

Are creative writers all granted implicit immunity from grammar rules?

That'd sure come in handy for me.
4
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6answers
231 views

Can I assign actions to broad concepts?

Whenever I write, I run into the problem where I have to assign human actions to subjects that, when I contemplate about it, cannot realistically perform those actions. A teacher told me years ago ...
6
votes
4answers
166 views

Do I have to capitalize ESP in sci fi fiction sentences?

Some of my fiction sci fi characters are ESP sensitive and the term is used a lot. Capitalized ESP stands out in my sentences like yelling so I am using esp,lower case. Is that acceptable? Will a ...
2
votes
4answers
245 views

How can I revise these sentences to be more correct while still keeping the effect? [closed]

I have written these two sentences: Despite her temper, I loved her still. Or perhaps not despite; perhaps because of. The second sentence feels grammatically incorrect; how can I revise ...
0
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1answer
257 views

Help me to improve grammar of this question [closed]

I asked a question on stackoverflow.com some time ago. Would you please notify me possible grammatical problems of my question? And if possible give me tips to ask question with better expression. ...
2
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0answers
335 views

Clarifying English Writing Conventions [closed]

I need example and usage of the following. "but" - I seen it used but without comma, but after comma, and new sentence with But. What's the proper way to use it. "However" - I seen it used start of a ...
5
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4answers
553 views

Do you have to write in the tone of ordinary speech?

Must writing always be done in the tone/style of ordinary contemporary speech? For example, some people might say that the conjunction "for" is archaic and should not be used in modern prose, but it ...
3
votes
3answers
118 views

Properly punctuate a quote

I am trying to learn to properly punctuate a quote, for example If I have I said "Let us go" and we left. Do I put a comma before or after the quote? Do I put a period after the word go before ...
0
votes
1answer
79 views

Is this line in a song/poem grammatically correct: “But oh how the love, it still wrecks me every time.”? [closed]

Is this line in a song (or might just end up as a poem) grammatically correct: "But oh how the love, it still wrecks me every time." ?? It seems to not be grammatically correct to me, but I just ...
3
votes
4answers
597 views

Dialogue Writing and Word Repetition [closed]

I'm an amateur writer. I'm having problems with dialogue writing specifically with punctuation and capitalization. Also, I need some advice on how to avoid word repetition. Please help this new guy ...
8
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4answers
1k views

How to write about transgender issues while avoiding cognitive dissonance?

As a writer, it is difficult to help your readers hold two dissonant ideas in their heads. This can occur when the situation you are describing does not match well with the lived experience of your ...
15
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2answers
1k views

No Contractions

When writing essays for History class, 5 points are taken off for every contraction. I don't see why writing it fully out is better than using a contraction, since it's shorter and it doesn't affect ...
6
votes
3answers
127 views

Should I capitalise the first letter of a title that an unnamed character has?

I'm writing from a third person viewpoint. I have a character who does not have a name. He is simply known as "The Sentinel". In fact, that is the only introduction he gives for himself. So when I'm ...