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Category “Grammarama”

Apostrophic

Apostrophe confusion

I consider myself to be a girl who knows her apostrophes. But this one has got me beat.

Rise or Raise?

Common Mistake

People confuse these two verbs, and often use rise when they mean raise.

EG:  Rise Raise your weight bar above your head.

Rise

Use rise when you’re talking about something/someone going or getting up.

You don’t need a noun after the word rise.

EG: I rise at the crack of noon. The escalator rises sharply. Zombies will rise. The sun has risen.

Raise

Use raise when you’re talking about something/someone lifting another someone/something up.

You need a noun after the word raise.

EG. They raise chickens.The article raises a good question. I’ll raise a glass in your honor. He raised his voice. You should raise your game.

Averse or Adverse?

Common Mistake

People confuse these two words and use adverse when they mean averse.

EG: I’m not adverse averse to a good argument.

Averse

Use averse when you want to say someone is against something or disinclined to do something. It describes a person’s attitude.

EG: He’s risk-averse. I’m not averse to a good argument.

Adverse

Use adverse when you could use negative or unfavorable instead.

EG. She had an adverse [negative] reaction to the drug. They faced adverse [unfavorable] weather conditions.

Does Grammar Matter?

Does it matter if you say your when you mean you’re? Or its instead of it’s?

Stephen Fry On Language

Here’s a wonderful speech to hear by Stephen Fry, made delightful to watch by Matthew Rogers.

There’s no right language or wrong language
any more than there are right or wrong clothes.
Context, convention, and circumstance are all.

Write As You Would Dress

I agree. Language is not right or wrong so much as it is more or less suitable and effective.

My approach? Dress [write] for the occasion. Dress [write] in a way that feels good to you and looks good or even gives pleasure to people whose opinions you care about. Try not to be too judgy about how others dress [express themselves]. And if all else fails, you can get away with a lot if you have on a great pair of boots [um…?].

I like to be grammatically well-dressed where I can, but without pedantry. I don’t like it when people are ridiculed for a misplaced apostrophe, but I’m mortified if I do it myself. I enjoy making up words, adopting neologisms, and deliberately ignoring  grammatical stuffiness.

Which is why this category is called Grammarama rather than Tight-Sphincter-Grammar.

Does Grammar Matter?

Does grammar matter? Is there right or wrong language? What do you think?

The Oxford Comma

What Is The Oxford Comma?

The Oxford Comma is the final comma before the word ‘and’ in a list.

EG I like apples, bananas, and peaches.

Why Use It?

Omitting the Oxford comma in the list above would be fine.

But leaving it out of some lists can cause confusion.

EG: I visited my friends, George and Mildred.
(Suggests George and Mildred are the friends I visited.)

VS: I visited my friends, George, and Mildred.
(Clarifies I’m listing all the people I visited: my friends and George and Mildred)

Should You Use It?

People disagree.

Having grown up in Australia I never used it. But when I did a psych degree and had to write papers and a thesis according to the APA Style I learned to appreciate it.

This infographic suggests it’s the US who are the main users. As most of my readers are in the US, and it feels good to me, I’m an OC user.

Oxford Comma Infographic

Be Consistent

Perhaps the best advice is to decide if you wish to use the Oxford Comma, and then to use it or not, consistently.

Don’t be an Oxford Comma, comma, comma, comma, comma chameleon.

It’s or Its?

Common Mistake

People often confuse these two words.

It’s

Use it’s when you could use it is instead.

EG: It’s (it is) now or never.

Its

Use its to show something belongs to ‘it’.

EG. Put the book on its side. (The side belongs to the book.)

You’re or Your?

Common Mistake

People often confuse these two words.

You’re

Use you’re when you could use you are instead.

EG: You’re (you are) the apple of my eye. You’re the pear of my nose.

Your

Use your to show something belongs to ‘you’.

EG. That’s your opinion. (The opinion is yours.)