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63

I think it weakens the prose, unless it is clearly intentional ("he had a big head, big teeth, a big nose, a big attitude.") In your example, "sleek" is not a very precise description, to me. The very fact that you apply it to both a building and a door suggests that lack of precision. You can actually replace both of them with actual description of what ...


54

There's no rule about the order of listed elements, so this is not a question of grammar, but of style. There are a few different approaches you could take: An alphabetical order might make it easier for readers to remember the elements. (However, if it's about ease of memorisation, a better approach might be to see if one particular order creates a ...


46

"They" is typically the English pronoun you would use here. It is a generally accepted, gender-neutral pronoun that has been in usage for centuries to refer to any of the following: A group of people that may contain multiple genders ("They went to the Silicon Valley conference yesterday."). This differs from other languages like Spanish,...


31

Yes, if it's the Grinch A unique creature, which is the Manananggal (effectively THAT creature's name), should be capitalized. No, if it's a fairy Even if your creature is rare, if you are likely to ever refer to it as a manananggal (a member of a group or species), then don't capitalize it.


30

I really like this question. I cringe to say it, but I somewhat agree about breaking grammar rules in the interest of safety. I frequently write technical emails/IT system announcements that are sent out to a large group of non-technical people and I find that if I write the emails using the same language that I'd write in my short stories, or even my ...


30

To the best of my knowledge, no grammar checker yet developed is "reliable" enough to never or rarely give incorrect suggestions. This includes commercial as well as free ones. The best that such software can do at present is make suggestions that a human must evaluate. This is, at least in significant part, because the "rules" of ...


26

The way to stop overusing 'I' and 'I'm' is to examine the words following those terms. Usually, they are filter words -- thought, felt, heard, et cetera -- and are putting a kind of layer between your 1st person narrator and the reader. By writing more intimately, the filter words disappear For example, 'I felt angry because they were out of cookies' becomes ...


24

There's not an exact right or wrong here, it's a matter of stylistic choices. Your beta readers disagree with yours --that's part of why you have beta readers, but ultimately you're still the writer and the final arbiter. The force with which she slammed the door made the windows rattle. Gosh, that woman has a temper. The lack of any visual cuing to ...


23

An important purpose of writing is to organize thoughts and communicate them to an audience. You would not write in French if the audience was fluent in only English. If the goal is to communicate, then all aspects of the writing should be tailored to the intended/expected audience. The answer to your question must come more from the style guides governing ...


21

Of course you can't just ignore all basic grammar rules. For example, writing: Not cover the opening machines power be while do. obviously makes no sense to anyone, even though it's got all the right words (plus or minus a few grammatical suffixes) in there. It's just broken English. But you can totally write, say: Do not open cover while machine ...


20

You do, you do understand tenses. Direct thought follows the same rules as direct speech, except that it is italicized rather than quoted. The same Wikipedia article describes both. This means it is rendered in the present tense, unless the character is speaking or thinking of the events of the past or future. Free Indirect Thought follows the same rules as ...


19

I would say it is definitely a new paragraph if only to indicate 'he' didn't say 'I thought ...'. I teach that you start a new paragraph when you change speaker, place, time or character. Here the change is character.


18

Remember your first person POV is the narrator: When I am describing what is going on in third person, it wouldn't occur to address people about me as narrator. But in many ways, first person POV is simply third person where the narrator also gets to be one of the characters. The examples that EDL uses in his answer are very good (+1). It's all about keeping ...


16

The label should be as short as possible without creating ambiguity. In many workplaces, the employer is required (OSHA, ISO, FDA, etc.) to train anyone who would be working in a particular area with the hazards of the environment and the equipment. The label acts as a reminder (as well as a legal obligation). Everyone in that lab knows lighting a flame ...


16

The reason for the "adverbs are the devil" rule is they are generally "telling", not "showing". The reason we want to "show" instead of "tell" is that it is the writer's job to assist the imagination of the reader. To do that, we need to appeal to their senses, primarily visual and auditory, but also senses of heat, humidity, touch, and emotional feelings ...


16

I agree, it's not the answers (plural) that "cause" has to agree with, it's "the lack of answers...". You have A LACK OF something, so the singular verb form is correct. It's not the lack of funds that causes me such pain, it's the lack of fun. I'd like to see what the grammarian behind that grammar checker has to say.


14

Except in poetry, which retains its line breaks even when put on a single line, it doesn't make sense to retain a line end hyphen elsewhere on the line. It just wouldn't make sense and it would look weird. Chicago says this specifically on their website: A hard hyphen is one that is typed deliberately and that must remain whether the phrase falls at the ...


13

Without getting into social commentary, it seems to me that it's practically impossible to talk about the life of a transgender person without getting into the sort of paradoxical or at least confusing statements that you describe. If you say "Caitlyn Jenner ... she won a gold medal in the men's decathlon ...", this creates the pretty obvious ...


13

No. And particularly not in your example of a list of historical periods, in which the obvious listing would be in chronological order. Alphabetical order would be perverse! In most other cases, it would be merely unnecessary. Also, you misunderstand what the 'Oxford comma' is. In 'The late Jurassic periods are Kimmeridgian, Oxfordian, and Tithonian.' ...


13

English grammar is a bit of a mess. Even smart humans can disagree about the correctness of a particular grammatical construction. You ask a great deal of an application, free or otherwise, to be "reliable." I use several of these programs. I even pay for a few. Their value to me is in focusing my attention on particular passages that may or may ...


12

1. READ A LOT I agree with @Cloudchaser that writing is a craft you have to practise. You should absolutely read these books that have been recommended to you. Read as many as you can on the craft of writing and if blogging is your thing, analyse the style of other successful blogs. 2. DON'T EXPECT TO GET IT RIGHT FIRST TIME But no amount of reading will ...


12

First of all, I'll admit I had some trouble identifying who said “I thought you said that name was already taken?” I'm assuming that Oddie said it in reaction to Arden's suggestion and that Nat, the narrator, got exasperated when Arden shrugged. Please let me know if I got it wrong. Option 2 “We can just call her Rose,” Arden suggests, leaning back on ...


12

Checking grammar using a computer program has indeed turned out to be much harder than computer scientists thought when the computer was a new concept. Some even thought natural language, logic, and all the rest would be something the computer would be able to deal with in a jiffy. I think computer science has contributed to language studies the fact that ...


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