Trying for a change of pace today, so please give a warm welcome to Grammar Nazi!
C’mon, people, gimme some lovin! And yes, I can misspell words cause I have a license—a poetic license. First I learned the rules, and now I break ’em.
Grammar rules are boring, but knowing them can give you an edge in the world of writing. All else being equal between two authors, who would you prefer—the clean writer or a writer who needs lots of editing? A good grasp on the rules will show people you are professional and serious about your career.
Looking for a fun way to learn the rules? Grab your favorite book, the one you’ve reread several times, and use it as a textbook. Knowing what happens in the book allows you to look below the surface and not focus on storyline. Study punctuation, word usage, sentence structure, mechanics, grammar—anything and everything. When you’ve learned all you can from that book, move on to another novel.
It’s also a good idea to keep a reference guide near your desk. I like THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE by William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White, but any decent guide will suffice. When you’re working on a final draft, keep that guide close by to edit yourself.
But sometimes it helps to have a rule explained in more depth. That’s where I come in. If you have a question about the rules of writing, leave a comment! This week I’m tackling . . .
If you’re writing, He said hello to his mother, then you don’t capitalize mother. If you’re writing, “Hi, Mother,” you must capitalize Mother. The his makes all the difference. Without it, the label Mother becomes a proper noun, the same as Erin or Grammar Nazi or whoever. Proper nouns are always capitalized. But if you proceed the label with his, her, or my, the label becomes a common noun like father, mother, brother, sister, friend, etc—none of which are capitalized unless you’re specifically addressing that person.
If a person’s title precedes the name, capitalize the title as well. Example: Today I talked to Professor E. M. Rowan. She is a talented professor!
As for titles of works, capitalize all words in the title EXCEPT: a, an, the, to . . . and connecting words with five letters or less (from, of, etc). The exception is when those words start or finish the title, or when immediately following a colon. Examples: Lord of the Rings; A Separate Peace; Ernest Hemingway: A Writer’s Life.
Well, that’s enough fun for one day! Let me know if you have any questions!
Do you struggle to remember the difference between lay, lie, laid, and lain? Read this handy post and you’ll never forget the rules again. Or if you think you will, you could always bookmark it just in case!
Erin told me to remind you: book club meets Wednesday for MARCELO IN THE REAL WORLD!