Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Art of Capitalization

I enjoy reading. Not just enjoy - LOVE! It's probably my favorite pastime. I regularly read multiple books at once, usually on my Kindle app. Unfortunately, there is an epidemic of poor grammar, spelling and punctuation in many of the self-published books available. If you want to publish a book - great! Get your work edited (preferably by someone who knows what they're doing) before publishing, though!

In kindergarten, most students start the year writing their names, and most other words, with all capital letters or a mix of capital and lowercase. As the year progresses, they learn that their names should be capitalized, but only the first letter. They learn that 'I' is always capitalized; and they learn to not have random capitals in the middle of their words and sentences.

In self-published books, I see many poorly worded sentences and misused words, but one book I read took me back to kindergarten, where the author should have learned to correctly use capitals. She had problems with word usage too, but I just want to address the capitalization right now. It bothered me enough that I actually wrote a review on Amazon. And promptly got yelled at by another reviewer for only giving 3 stars because of grammar. That wasn't the only reason I gave it 3 stars, but poor grammar detracts from my enjoyment of a book. It brings me to a screeching halt so I can try to figure out what the heck the author is trying to say.

The capitalization errors were actually minor compared to some of the other mistakes, but it was interesting because I'd never seen anyone make this particular error so dramatically. You're probably saying, 'Get to the point, already!'

Here it is: The words mom, dad, mother and father are ONLY capitalized when used as proper nouns, as in the place of a name or in direct address, and NOT when used as common nouns.

For example:
     Yes - I told Mom that she should buy the dress.
     No - I told my Mom that she should buy the dress.

     Yes - I want Dad to come with me.
     No - I want my Dad to come with me.

This author capitalized mother and father EVERY TIME she used them. and that was a lot of times. The book was about a family so 'my Mother' and 'my Father' were on nearly every page! Halfway through the book I was ready to scream, but I did like the story enough to finish the book and even read the next couple in the series. The author did fix some of her mistakes in the following books.

It's a fairly straightforward rule. If you can replace mom, dad, mother or father with a name, capitalize it. I return to my previous example. If I replace mom with Kate (my mom's name), does it make sense?

     I told Kate that she should buy the dress.
     I told my Kate that she should buy the dress.

The first one makes sense but the second doesn't.

That is all.

pLease capItaliZe Your senTenCes CorrEctlY!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Definitely Defiant

I am definitely irritated by the frequent replacement of definitely with defiantly. As far as I can tell, this is simply a matter of people not paying attention when they're typing. I would hope that people know the difference, though that may be asking too much. It's one of those errors that is easy to make if you don't pay attention to what you're writing or typing.

Another common error in both speaking and writing is the use of the incorrect past participle form of certain verbs, those used with have. There are many verbs that have unusual forms for the past participle. For example: have sung, have swung, have come, have begun, have done, have drunk, have eaten, have gone, have swum, and many more.*
These are verbs that just have to be memorized because there is not necessarily a logical or consistent means of figuring out what the past and past participles should be. Many people, however, just use the regular past form with have, rather than the correct past participle. They say: I have sang a song; I have swang a bat; I have came to school; I have began a book; I have did this; I have drank pop; I have ate pizza; I have went to the store; I have swam in the pool.

Actually with swang and swung, more commonly it's actually the past pariciple used in place of the past tense: I swung the bat.

These are further confused by those that don't follow the pattern. It is drink, drank, drunk; but not think, thank, thunk. Sing, sang, sung; but not bring, brang, brung. That one IS frequently used by people trying to genralize the rule, but failing miserably.

English is a difficult language and it is distressing that more and more Americans don't even know how to speak or write it correctly. Or they don't care, which is almost as bad. 



Tuesday, February 4, 2014

It's the principal/principle

I was reading a book today. I know, shocker! I won't write the name of the book, but it is a fairly well know children's series. I found a grammatical error. Horrors! This makes me sad. I expect to find errors in self-published e-books; but not in an edited, printed, professionally-published book! The author used the word principal when he meant principle.

A principal is the person who runs a school.
A principle is a tenet or rule that one follows.

The principal is your pal (a person), as someone once taught me.

I have frequently seen these words mixed up by people writing comments on the internet. It's just another one of those stupid homonyms that people don't know how to use, or don't pay attention to. Why do we have so many of those (homonyms, not people)?

Leave/Let it be

I know it's been a while since I posted. I'm going to try to write more often from now on.

This afternoon, I was pondering the words leave and let. They are frequently used interchangeably, as in my title.

Leave it be.
Let it be.

Leave it alone.
Let it alone.

However, the interchangeability breaks down quickly.

Let it go.
Leave it go.

I have heard many people use the latter, unfortunately. I don't know the origins of the usages of these phrases. It makes me wonder if leave it be used to be non-standard and has been integrated and accepted over time. I hope leave it go doesn't do that. It sounds so wrong! Actually, the more I say leave it be, the more wrong it sounds, too!

This one just confuses me. Is it regional? I don't know what to do with it. All I can say is, as usual: think before you speak!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

I can't excape bad grammar!

I hope that anyone reading this realizes that I made the error in the title on purpose!  I haven't seen excape in writing, but I hear it spoken frequently.  It is spelled, and pronounced, escape.  No x anywhere. 

Nowhere should one ever use no were unless referring to a were animal.  I would hope there are no weres.  This is not to be confused with we're, the contraction of we are.  I have seen people, particularly on Facebook, use no were instead of nowhere (one word, notice) or were in place of we're.  As I've said before, it's an apostrophe people! One little character which makes your writing so much clearer!

The criteria for good grammar are not always clear because many people, for whatever reason, are not aware of the unusual status of some words.  Take for example, criteria.  Not criterias. Why? Because it is already plural.  The singular form of criteria is criterion.  Another word like this is phenomenon.  The plural is not phenomenons, but phenomenaMedia is also frequently mistakenly pluralized. The singular is medium.  This is most frequently used when discussing different types of art media.  Which medium do you use?  When discussing newspapers and television news, I believe it is usually media.  The United States has various forms of media.

These are a few grammatical mistakes I've encountered in the last few months.  I've seen a meme going around Facebook that shows a screen that would require a person to put the correct form of a word into a sentence in order to access the internet.  What a great idea!  Maybe people would actually learn!