Capitalizing on the Seasons
Did you notice that fall has arrived? Can Old Man Winter be far behind? Why did I capitalize “Winter” and not “fall”? Try to find a pattern among the following. Capitalize away where you see fit.
- If this be autumn, can winter be far behind? (Careful!)
- In spring a young fancy turns to love.
- Young spring must give way to mother summer.
- When winter winds howl, deserted autumn takes cover.
- The wild winter gives way to miss budding spring.
- Why is sonny summer’s sunshine thought a blessing…
- …while the weak rays of winter are viewed with woeful wonder?
Val’s Answers to Grammar Quiz #74
1. If this be autumn, can winter be far behind? (Careful!)
2. In spring a young fancy turns to love.
3. Young Spring must give way to Mother Summer.
4. When winter winds howl, deserted Autumn takes cover.
5. The wild winter gives way to Miss Budding Spring.
6. Why is Sonny Summer’s sunshine thought a blessing…
7. …while the weak rays of winter are viewed with woeful wonder?
Are You Listening?
Use the following homonyms in a single sentence. Move slowly; these are the words that slip by in your writing when yur not paying attention.
- Your, you’re, yore
- There, their, they’re
- Pair, pare, pear
- Holy, holey, wholly
- Praise, prays, preys
- New, gnu, knew
- Maine, main, mane
Val’s Answers to Grammar Quiz #73
These are my solutions. What are yours?
1. Your grandmothers tell tales about the days of yore until you’re worn out.
2. They’re stories about flower children who found there was fun in their rebellion.
3. “Pare a pear and add it to a pair of apples for a sweet treat,” she croons.
4. Ignore that holy terror with the holey jacket who is wholly to blame for the ruckus.
5. Praise goes to the hero who found out how the idiot preys on the little ones and prays after dinner.
6. Who knew the gnu was a new resident of the friendly neighborhood?
7. The main story we liked best was about the princess from Maine who had a mane of golden curls.
You know how crazy is U.S. language. The verbs are the craziest. Here are some of them in action. Look closely at the following sentences and replace the verb with the best one.
- Hey, man, I catched your gig last night.
- I drived for two hours and bringed my best friend with me.
- I thinked your guitar haved a sweet sound.
- My friend goed to sleep but waked up when the horns jived.
- I don’t think she finded much fun in what you guys done.
Val’s Answers to Grammar Quiz #72
1. Hey, man, I caught your gig last night.
2. I drove for two hours and brought my best friend with me.
3. I thought / think your guitar had a sweet sound.
4. My friend went to sleep but waked up when the horns jived.
5. I don’t think she found much fun in what you guys did.
Nouns and Pronouns
You know the difference between nouns and pronouns. The pronouns are images of the nouns. Look closely at the following sentences and clarify which noun the pronoun represents.
1. Dr. Anderson examined the patient in his office.
2. When the attorney walked in, the judge recognized her mistake.
3. The child shared her bubblegum with his sister.
4. After the service the minister met the guest and called out his name.
5. Did the conductor and the flutist ever express his disappointment?
Val’s Answers to Grammar Quiz #71
1. Dr. Anderson examined the patient in his office. (In whose office? Dr. Loni Anderson or the patient, John Jones?)
2. When the attorney walked in, the judge recognized her mistake. (Who made the mistake? Maggie Miller, Esq. or Judge Henry Higgins??
3. The child shared the bubblegum with his sister. (Just who is the “his”? The child or a friend?)
4. After the service the minister met the guest and called out his name. (Did the minister know the guest’s name was Elizabeth? Or did Pastor Dan Dillon call out his own name?)
5. Did the conductor and the flutist ever express his disappointment? (Who is disappointed? Maestro Richard Strauss or Flutist Jim Perry?)
Those Pesky Hyphens
You know how to use hyphens within compound words. Look closely at those compounds that begin with common prefixes: un, non, self, pre. Where would you use a hyphen in the following words – or would you?
- un common
- un equal
- un American
- non commissioned
- non stop
- self centered
- self ish
- pre pared
- pre paid
- pre eminent
Val’s Answers to Grammar Quiz #70
3. un-American (use hyphens with un only when followed by a capitalized noun)
5. nonstop (non doesn’t need a hyphen)
6. self-centered (most self words take a hyphen)
7. selfish (no hyphen; also include selfless and selfsame)
8. prepared or pre-pared (without the hyphen, the meaning is “ready”; with the hyphen, the meaning is “pared earlier”)
10. pre-eminent (sometimes hyphens are used in compounds when the prefix ends with the same letter as the beginning of the root word)
You Think You Know Words?
What is your opinion of the use (and mis-use) of the following words? Which of these choices do you use – and how?
- flammable or inflammable
- between or among
- use to or used to
- disinterested or uninterested
- hard or difficult
- formally or formerly
- all told or all tolled
- oriented or orientated
Val’s Answers to Grammar Quiz #69
1. Don’t fret! Both flammable and inflammable mean the same thing.
2. Between involves just two things or people; use among for more than two.
3. Use is a verb that takes an object (You use a computer.) Used to is another verb that means “to acquaint with” (You are used to using a computer.)
4. Disinterested means to be “impartial”; uninterested says you have no interest at all, maybe because you’re bored.
5. Careful here; hard means you can bang on it and it won’t break. Difficult means “it won’t be easy”.
6. Two different words. Formally says you are dressed up; formerly says you used to do something – maybe dress up?
7. This is a spelling problem. The words are all told, meaning “everything is taken into account”. (A group of bells all clanging at the same time might invoke the use of “all tolled”.)
8. OMG, please forget you ever heard the word “orientate”. It’s one of those uber-linguistic words that sounds oh-so-very pretentious. Orient is enough!
That Dratted Apostrophe!
Q: What’s the difference between the meanings of these words: runs, run’s, and runs’?
A: Depends on how it’s used and what the writer means it to mean.
Insert an apostrophe where needed in the following underlined words:
- A whales spout is an amazing sight.
- Dont let it be said that Jacks a dummy.
- When Jacks mother Doris saw him on Mothers Day, she smiled.
- Boys will be boys, she said, her hearts beat up three notches.
- The political cant over redistricting cant be understated.
- Several times, when better times prevailed, the Times ran birth announcements.
- The childrens birthday candles flames heated the room.
Val’s Answers to Grammar Quiz #68
1. whale’s (Possessive: one whale; one spout)
2. Don’t (Contraction: do not) Jack’s (Contraction: Jack is)
3. Jack’s (Possessive: Doris is his mother) Mothers Day (up for grabs; maybe, maybe not; what do you think?)
4. heart’s (Possessive: the beat belonged to the heart.)
5. can’t (Contraction: can not. You knew that a cant (without apostrophe) is a noun.
6. (Not an apostrophe in the lot!)
7. children’s (Possessive on a plural noun) candles’ (Possessive on another plural noun.
How Long is a Dash?
The difference between a dash and a hyphen is length. The hyphen is found on the key just to the right of the zero (and yes, there’s a difference between zero and the letter “o”). The dash is longer and is generated differently on different computers. On my Mac, I hold down SHIFT/OPTION and hit the hyphen/underline key. (On a PC hold down ALT and hit 0151.)
The difference in use is monumental. The hyphen is used between compound word. The dash is used to indicate an inserted comment or clarification to a sentence. Try out these sentences and insert either a dash or hyphen:
- Spring cleaning (-, -) oh how I hate it (-, -) starts in April.
- There’s no fool like an over(-, -) anxious fool after April 1.
- April showers bring May flowers (-, -) or so it’s said.
- Apriil (-, -) the saddest month (-, -) brings warm weather.
- Enjoy the lazy, hazy, crazy days of pre (-, -) summer.
Val’s Answers to Grammar Quiz #67
1. Spring cleaning — oh how I hate it — starts in April.
2. There’s no fool like an over-anxious fool after April 1.
3. April showers bring May flowers — or so it’s said.
4. Apriil — the saddest month — brings warm weather.
5. Enjoy the lazy, hazy, crazy days of pre-summer.
Writing the Numbers
Writing out numbers can be tricky. Do you use numerals or words?
GUIDELINE #1: Write out numbers below ten; use numerals for numbers above ten.
GUIDELINE #2: Use numerals in nonfiction, written words in fiction.
- My dad gave me ($20, twenty dollars, $20.00) for my evening out.
- The hospital has (4, four) units and (one hundred twenty-five, 125) physicians.
- The trees behind the house are at least (50, fifty) feet tall.
- My sister has grown to (four feet, three inches; 4 feet, 3 inches; 4′, 3″) tall. (fiction)
- The company was sold for three million dollars, $3,000,000, $3 million). (nonfiction)
- That fairy tale debases (2, two) of the (3, three) pigs in that story.
- When the (3, three) little pigs built their houses, they used a variety of materials. (fiction)
- Meet me at the brick house at (two o’clock, 2 o’clock, 2:00, 2:00 o’clock) tomorrow.
Val’s Answers to Grammar Quiz #66
1. twenty dollars (fiction), $20 (nonfiction)
2. four units and 125 physicians
3. fifty (fiction), 50 (nonfiction)
4. four feet, three inches (fiction); 4 feet, 3 inches or 4′, 3″ (nonfiction)
5. three million dollars (fiction), $3 million (nonfiction)
6. two, three
8. two o’clock (fiction), 2 o’clock or 2:00 (nonfiction, but not 2:00 o’clock)
When writing out dates, use the form that best tells the story. NOTE: We don’t always pronounce dates the way they appear. Try these:
- When I was in my (thirties, 30s, ’30s 30’s, 30ies), I discovered a love of history.
- My favorite era covered the (sixties, 1960’s, 1960s, ’60’s, ’60s, 60ies).
- You’d think the (seventies, 1970s, 1970’s, ’70s, ’70’s) decade would be more fun.
- My friend was married on (February 14th, February 14, the 14th of February, the 14 of February).
- She’d rather have been wed on (the fourth of July, the Fourth of July, the 4th of July, July 4th, July 4).
- Whatever happened to jazz in the (eighties, ’80’s, ’80s, 80ies)? 7. The (’80’s, ’80s, 80s, 80’s) slang sounded awesome.
Val’s Answers to Grammar Quiz #65
Remember, plurals add s only (no apostrophes, as in 1980s); use apostrophes to show possession (1980’s customs) and to replace missing numbers (during the ’80s). When you have a choice, select one and use it consistently.
1. thirties or 30s
2. sixties, 1960s, or ’60s
3. seventy’s, 1970’s, or ’70’s
4. My friend was married on February 14 or the 14th of February
5. the Fourth of July, 4th of July, or July 4
6. eighties or ’80s