Clean, Well-Lighted Sentences: A Guide to Avoiding the Most Common Errors in Grammar and Punctuation

Clean, Well-Lighted Sentences: A Guide to Avoiding the Most Common Errors in Grammar and Punctuation

Janis Bell

Language: English

Pages: 176

ISBN: 0393337154

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Clean, Well-Lighted Sentences: A Guide to Avoiding the Most Common Errors in Grammar and Punctuation

Janis Bell

Language: English

Pages: 176

ISBN: 0393337154

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


An extraordinary handbook: with clarity and humor, it tells the story that even good writers have been longing to hear.

This is not a comprehensive tracking of every nut and bolt that ever came loose within an English sentence; it is a focused discussion of the narrow range of problems that American writers typically face. From confusion over grammar to tangles with usage, to questions about punctuation, Janis Bell addresses them with transparency and grace. She discusses the issues, gives plenty of examples, provides quizzes and answers, and makes sure that readers are engaged throughout.

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take up the whole couch. And stop chewing on the remote control. Subjunctive Mood If you’re writing an action that isn’t happening or isn’t true, yet the sentence speculates about it, you’re using subjunctive mood. Examples: Rover yawned when I asked him to move over, as if I had been talking about the weather. If Rover had any manners, he would make room for me on the couch. I wish Rover were more considerate. Indicative and imperative moods don’t cause problems; people handle them

the quizzes, so that you can see what you’ve learned and what you still need to work on. It turns on the floodlights and even makes you laugh. Finally, this book increases your confidence, which is key to writing well. I wish I could just sprinkle some self-assurance on your cereal in the morning and watch your sentences transform by the afternoon. But, alas, there’s no such product on the market. We all have to make it from scratch by strengthening our skills. That’s what you’ll be doing as you

it shouldn’t—not when you’re talking about an action that isn’t presently true or happening. If you need a verb that comes from to be, choose were, no matter what the subject is. More examples: I choose to watch Judge Judy, as if Rover were interested in it. Rover looks at me as though I were nuts. In those as if and as though clauses, the subject changes (from Rover to I), but the verb remains were. When people need the past tense of other verbs, they have no problem because they have no

wishes that I was… Never use was after wish. It is always wrong. If the opening clause does not contain wish—i.e., if the sentence depicts a past action that may have occurred—then, was is correct, of course. Examples: Rover hoped that I was too tired to watch TV. He looked as if he was sure I’d give up on Judge Judy. If he was nervous, he wasn’t showing it. Feeling overwhelmed by the was/were challenge? Here’s a reminder to lighten your mood: no other verb in our language has two forms of

Note: Sarcasm is the effect you wind up with if you use quotes where they don’t belong. Quotes are not for showing your discomfort with a colloquial expression. Either make your peace with the idiom and use it without quotes, or choose another way to say what you mean. Incorrect: Please don’t “beat around the bush.” Correct: Please don’t beat around the bush. or Please get to the point. Surrounding titles of chapters or articles Examples: Did you read “Bush on Fire” in Time Magazine?

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