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?
Meg Amor says
Aloha. :-). That was fun. I do disagree on one of them though. 🙂 I suppose you get get father down the road. As in – “I got father down the road than he went yesterday. Must b those new vitamins he’s taking.” Sorry. Lol. Couldn’t resist. It needs a wee r in there. 🙂
We had it drummed into us to say well – not good.
I only recently learnt that alright is not a word. But I have it now. 🙂
I find the ‘couldn’t care less’ one particularly American. Nzers would never say ‘”I could care less.” In the same way we’d never say “Write me.” “Write to me.”
We weren’t allowed to say “I got the money off dad.” “I got the money from dad.” Mum would say, “he’s not wearing it.” And we’d say, “Have you ever tried to get money from dad.” He’s very tight with his money. We also weren’t allowed to say “you suit red.” It was “red suits you.” Red is an inanimate thing etc.
Should have not should of..shoud”ve not should’f etc.
We also weren’t allowed to use fetus or foods. Singular/plural – no s for either.
Some of it’s cultural too like the write me etc.
But very fun. Thanks. Aloha Meg 🙂
Joan Curtis says
Aloha back at you! You crack me up! Thanks for the heads up on farther. Those little pesky errors that my old eyes always miss! I loved the others you pointed out. I had no idea about some of them. So, Meg, where are you from? Are you a Brit? Just curious. You are right about culturalisms. In fact, I’m always searching for those little expressions that denote a Brit.
Thanks for stopping by several times. 🙂
Meg Amor says
Lol. Back on my dreaded phone. You’ve been warned. :-).
Aloha Joan 🙂
Im a New Zealander. So we have a lot of similar things to Brits in our speech. Plus out own set of unique idioms etc.
Aloha Meg. :-).
Meg Amor says
Oh dear me. Autocorrect has struck again. Lol
That was foods or fruits. Lol
Aloha Meg. 🙂
Meg Amor says
And must stop replying on my phone. Always make horrendous mistakes. Lol
Meradeth Houston says
What a fun quiz! Honestly, I don’t really care much about grammar, so long as I can still make sense of what’s being said 🙂 I have some pet-peeves for sure, but I’d much rather read an amazing story with beautiful language and a few errors, than something that’s perfectly written and dull!
Joan Curtis says
Thanks Meradith for stopping by. I agree with you about reading an amazing story, but when the grammar is so bad it stops my reading, well, that’s a problem. I read a wonderful book, “Defending Jacob.” The author kept using “alright.” Actually every character spoke with “alright.” And the misspelled word appeared in the text. After a bit, I got very annoyed. I had to wonder where the author’s editor was. Nonetheless, that didn’t stop me from reading and enjoying the book 🙂
Robert A.V. Jacobs says
I concur with the ‘Father’, but my favourite is the ‘running from the house, my shoes came off and tripped me up’
Several points are evident here, not the least of which is how ‘running from’ became ‘running for’
…Why was the house chasing you?
…’my shoes came off, and I tripped over them’. Unless you assume that the shoes did it deliberately.
…as you say shoes didn’t do the running.
…’As I was running away from the house, my shoes cam off and I tripped over them’
is about the best you can get…to find a combination of words that does not imply that you were being chased by the house is definitely the challenge here.
I am British by the way…Not ‘Brit’…that is unless you wish to be called ‘Amer’
and as British, one of our little oddities is not using hyphens everywhere ‘ten-years-old’ for instance…we would just say ten years old.
Robert A.V. Jacobs says
I have to add that I do not concur with your statement ‘you must say’ ‘I lost my shoes’, because that is inaccurate. If the shoes were lost, they could not trip you up. Unless they have been found of course.
To correct myself, I seem to have lost an ‘e’ in the previous post…and I believe there is a ‘does’ when there should be a ‘do’
‘does not imply’…’do not imply’…debatable huh?