Questions tagged [grammar]

Questions about the rules of grammar, and how to properly apply them to writing. Note that questions asking to improve or check grammar of a specific piece are off-topic.

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28
votes
3answers
4k views

Reasons for confusion over tenses in a story

When writing stories in past tense (which is majority of the time) whether it be an essay for class or an unassembled essay for home and in my own time, I often find myself writing some of my ...
27
votes
11answers
15k views

Is it wrong to use the same word multiple times within a few sentences?

I have been told before that when describing things in writing I should use different words, and not to repeat myself so it doesn't become redundant, but sometimes there are no other words that work ...
22
votes
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 ...
20
votes
12answers
6k views

Can basic grammar rules be skipped when writing text for machine safety labels?

First of all I'm completely against this idea but a few people who contribute to the technical documentation project constantly suggest that to attain a short, quick, economic, comprehensive message ...
15
votes
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 ...
15
votes
3answers
4k 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?
15
votes
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 ...
15
votes
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 ...
11
votes
5answers
4k 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 ...
11
votes
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'...
11
votes
2answers
176 views

How to clarify the objects of a sentence's two pronouns?

I am trying to describe a process. There are two players in the scenario. Player A tries to find player B. If player A finds player B, then player A tags player B. Something like that. Here is an ...
9
votes
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 ...
9
votes
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 ...
8
votes
5answers
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 ...
8
votes
2answers
570 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 ...
8
votes
7answers
440 views

Will I ever be able to write like a native writer?

So a little while ago someone said that I'll never be able to write on a native level because I wasn't born in the UK or America. I did, however, go to elementary school in the US at the ages of 5-10 ...
7
votes
4answers
249 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?...
7
votes
4answers
267 views

Writing a letter from the future

I'm writing a letter from the future to my dear friends, posing as the child they're about to have. The main aim of the letter is to be amusing, but also to give some perspective (you don't need to be ...
7
votes
6answers
14k 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-...
7
votes
3answers
308 views

How can I improve my grammar?

I feel like I have learned everything I know about Grammar by osmosis. I don't remember learning any of the technicalities of Grammar when I was at school and it has always been a weak area. I think ...
7
votes
1answer
3k views

Multiple sentences in a parenthetical phrase - How do I punctuate properly?

I keep on running into this problem. I will have a parenthetical phrase (which is something set off by parentheses, rather like this, for those of you that do not know), but I need to include multiple ...
6
votes
5answers
232 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
233 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 ...
6
votes
5answers
427 views

As a writer, how can I avoid exposing myself as a non-native English speaker in my texts?

I am a Japanese student learning English, and one of my current goals is to learn to write texts in such a way that no reader will realize I am not a native speaker. I am humbly seeking advice on how ...
6
votes
4answers
197 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 ...
6
votes
5answers
348 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 ...
5
votes
4answers
590 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 ...
5
votes
4answers
463 views

In present-tense narrative, does “I spend the NEXT few hours…” make sense?

I was directed to the writers stackexchange from the English/grammar forums. I'm writing a novel in present-tense. If all the actions are in the present-tense, e.g. as the character is experiencing ...
5
votes
3answers
116 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
257 views

Capitalize 'it' when referring to a strange being?

I have a being with a name. I capitalize its name when I mention it. But mostly, I refer to it as "it". I use "it" a lot in dialogue, as characters talk about this being. Should I capitalize "it", ...
5
votes
5answers
211 views

Knowing when to disobey the advice of grammar software

When writing I try to be my own editor in order to improve the quality of what I write. When I feel happy I use Hemingway to further tighten up what I have written. Normally I aim for having a score ...
5
votes
3answers
275 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
113 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 ...
4
votes
6answers
232 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 ...
4
votes
5answers
350 views

Do many people even care about “good” grammar in novels?

I realise people like me are probably many, i.e., amateurs who want to write a book and then get frustrated by having to learn all this very intricate grammar just to please the odd poindexter who may ...
4
votes
5answers
620 views

How do you decide whether to use the infinitive or -ing version of a verb?

Example: Three months had passed since she started to avoid me. Three months had passed since she started avoiding me. Right now, what I do is to search for the phrase with the most results ...
4
votes
1answer
605 views

What is it called when poets changing grammar rules?

I noticed it in many poems that the verses do not contain words according to proper grammar rules. I was told that poets are allowed to do that to incorporate the rhyming words. For example, in the ...
4
votes
1answer
464 views

Apparent contradiction in rules about writing that I learnt throughout my education

I noticed that there are a few inconsistencies in what I was taught throughout my English education, and I hope to clarify them. I think the nature of the question is somewhere between "grammar" and "...
4
votes
2answers
128 views

Present tense or Future tense (When writing articles or technical guides)

Should we use present tense or future tense when writing an article? I know this question will be off topic if I asked without example. So I will add an example: You should use a very clean font ...
4
votes
1answer
7k views

Does dialogue always need to have its own line?

I am doing stuff like this: "That's nice," he said. We went to the car and got our laptops and logged into Stack Exchange. and He stood up and looked me in the eyes. I could tell he was angry....
4
votes
1answer
98 views

Add Comma After “official” in “official third-party documentation”?

I'm drafting an internal standard on internal documentation covering third-party products or services in my organization. Documentation covering third-party products or services SHOULD NOT: Include ...
4
votes
2answers
373 views

Turning normal phrases into gerund phrases: What's the effect in the reader?

For example, what's the difference between: She closed her eyes and thought about her life. He was so confident and handsome women circled him like vultures. And this: Closing her eyes, she thought ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

Should I use ellipses in narration?

I want to indicate a dramatic pause in the narration of my fiction, but the rules I've read say that ellipses are reserved for "" quoted dialog. This would be the example I'm looking at: ...
3
votes
3answers
134 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
54 views

Adjective alongside verb [closed]

"Marlon walked suspicious along the corridor". It's important to stress that Marlon was (still) suspicious (not suspected, nor walking suspiciously) about something (that was already covered in the ...
3
votes
4answers
882 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
339 views

Is using “gonna” in first-person narrative acceptable?

From what i understand, an author is supposed to conform to proper grammatical convention both when writing in third-person and first-person narrative. Is a sentence like this considered "acceptable" ...
3
votes
2answers
223 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

Do you capitalize the “T” in “the” in a Title or Place's Name?

When writing a title or a name of a place in a novel, do you capitalize the "T" in "the"? For example the name of an establishment, which of these would be correct: They went to The Cloak and Dagger ...
3
votes
5answers
80 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 ...