When we’re in the creative mode, however, we need to put those little pesky grammar conundrums aside and just write. After that, however, grammar issues surface like ugly pimples. How good are you at grammar? Are you someone who doesn’t care when you read a grammatical error in a book? Or are you one of those people who toss the book aside in disgust? Where on the continuum do you fall?
1. Is it correct to say, I could care less or I couldn’t care less? a) Either is correct b) I couldn’t care less is correct c) I could care less is correct.
2. Is it okay to write in phrases rather than full sentences? a) Sentence fragments are fine in fiction writing b) Sentences fragments are never okay.
3) “Since it rained earlier in the day, I took my raincoat.” or “Because it rained earlier in the day, I took my raincoat.” a) Either is fine b) Because it rained is more grammatically correct. c) Since it rained is more grammatically correct.
4) alright or all right. a) Either is fine b) Alright is only okay in dialogue c) All right is the only correct usage.
5) I got further/farther along on that project than I thought. a) Either is fine b) Further is correct c) Father is correct.
6) “Irregardless/regardless of the weather, I’m going to play.” a) Irregardless is correct b) Regardless of the weather I’m going to play is correct. c) Either is fine.
7) Running from the house, my shoes came off and tripped me up. a) That sentence is fine b) That sentence is incorrect because shoes don’t run.
8) “I did good/well on the test” a) Either is correct b) Well is the correct answer. c) Good is the correct answer
9) “The two of us argued among ourselves.” a) That sentence is incorrect. b) That sentence is correct.
10) “I went home to lay/lie down.” a) Either is correct b) Lay is correct here c) Lie is correct here.
1) b 2) a 3) a 4) c 5) a 6) b 7) b 8) b 9) a 10) c
8-10 Correct. Congratulations. You’re great at grammar and probably need to edit my manuscripts.
7-5 Correct. You’re not the best grammarian and probably need to refer to manuals as you edit your manuscripts.
Less than 5. Okay, get some help with your grammar. A good editor is just the ticket.
Now, for a brief explanation of the answers.
“I couldn’t care less” If you think about what this is saying, that is–I don’t care, then I could care less makes no sense. “I couldn’t care less” is an idiomatic phrase that causes writers headaches.
Indeed, fiction writers not only write in sentence fragments, often they use just one word. Early writers in the 19th Century and early 20th Century wrote in full sentences. But today’s writers do not. Dialogue has its own rules. No one always talks in full sentences!
Believe it or not, either work. Some really strict grammarians might disagree, but… let’s not get that strict.
I will not excuse you for writing alright. It simply won’t do, even in dialogue. Some editors are letting alright slip through and who knows, over time it may become okay to use in dialogue but not yet.
Here again, you can say further/or farther because you are not talking distance. If you are talking distance, you must say farther. I traveled farther than he did.
Never will irregardless be a word. Trust me on this. It’s basically a double negative.
So many writers goof on this construction. “Running from the house, my shoes..” Please. Your shoes didn’t run. You must say, “Running for the house, I lost my shoes.”
My niece always says she did good on something. I constantly want to correct her. Good in this sense is getting to be part of the vernacular. But, the correct usage is still “well.” If you are writing dialogue and your character is not too educated, you can certainly say “good.”
When you discuss two or anything, it must be between. If there are more than two, you can use among.
Finally, lie vs. lay. I did an entire blog post on this issue because it’s so confusing. What you need to remember, most of the time, is use lie when there is no object. I went to lie down. Use lay when there is an object. I lay my purse on the table. The past tense is even more confusing.
So, how did you do? Anyone want to disagree or to add your own grammar conundrum?