Grammar really isn’t difficult. Yes, I laughed a little when I wrote that. I can remember the days when certain “grammar rules” made little sense to me. I struggled and stumbled and cursed the comma. But then, for whatever reason in the universe, my pea-headed brain had some kind of Oh! AHA! moment and the grammar rules began to make (im)perfect sense to me (though I break them many times, but I do it with purpose). I’m sure it was an insidious inky thing spreading out and snapping through the mysterious regions of my brain–helped by my work as an editor (and then Publishing Editor with Angie Ledbetter) at the Rose & Thorn Journal (a fine fine literary journal that we both grieved shutting down–the archives are still there, should you wish to peruse and enjoy!). I had to find ways to help my brain make sense of it all by using my own little “memory tics;” or, just accept what is, is, and forever more may be.
So, my fine beautiful lovelies: some tidbits for your grammar angstesess:
Simply put: think of fewer as “counting things” and less as “time and space and things you don’t count.”
I ate fewer apples (three) today because I had less time (about an hour) to chew.
There are fewer dogs (twelve) in the dog park so there’s way less barking (who knows how many dogs are barking; I just hear noise).
Take fewer cookies (three) so you’ll spend less time on the treadmill (get on that treadmill anyway – no matter how many cookies you’ve eaten, or not eaten!).
Fewer coins (ten) means less money (you are probably broke if you are a writer) to spend.
Most Important/Most Importantly
It’s important. Period. Most important, it’s important not importantly. Because I said so. Because I consulted the Most High Poombahs of Grammar and they said so. Most important, I said so.
But wait! There’s more! There is quite a controversy on the “important/importantly” debate. I will stick to my “most important” and continue to correct people in my head – hahahaha!
Do we really need to discuss this? Yes. Because even people I dearly love still use “your” as “you’re.” Your is possessive: Your (possessive – you own the pants) pants are falling down so you’re (you are) going to trip on them. You’re is the contraction of “You are.”
You’re (you are) so cute when your (possessive) pants fall down. You can only use “you’re” as You Are and nothing else–if you write “you’re” you are saying “you are” and if you write “your” you are saying that person owns the thing that it is attached to it.
Your (the person the lips are attached to) lips are kissable; you’re (you are) sexy.
Often, writers write the it’s/its incorrectly by accident. I scour my manuscript with a fine-toothed eye to catch any it’s/its -ses I may have missed just by a slip of the finger — or! Word sometimes plays tricks that I must watch out for.
It’s: contraction of it is. Note that “it’s” can be a contraction for “it has” as well: It’s been nice but I gotta go –it has been nice but I gotta go. That’s it. That’s the use of it’s: it is or it has. Nothing else.
Its: a possessor that is neutral. Consider that his and her is a “possessor” – his legs are strong but her thighs can crack a walnut. Think of its replacing his or her as in the case of the example below: the dog and the dog’s house.
It’s (it is) chilly outside and the dog shivers in its (possessor) dog house. (So I let the dog in my house–okay, I had to add this because I kept feeling sorry for this imaginary dog. Haw!)
The swan knows it’s beautiful in its watery kingdom at the lake.
Starbucks is a huge corporation and its coffees are over-priced. See that Starbucks “owns” the coffees but we don’t call Starbucks a “his or her” – still, it “possesses” the coffees it sells, so: It’s (it is) my opinion that Starbucks and its (neutral possessor) coffees are sometimes delicious and sometimes burnt-tasting.
Now, I hope I didn’t create any typos or make an embarrassing grammatical mistake while typing this out. If so, call me on it and I’ll fix ‘er up.
That’s it for today. Take those in your mouth until you’re sure you can swallow them down in your tummy. Most important, it’s widely known that grammar is its own worst enemy but dang if it’s not beautiful in its complexity. You’re going to muddle over this until your head explodes. You’ll have fewer brain cells and less synaptic activity once you have considered all of the above. Teehee.
Touty plug of the day: The Lightning Charmer – wish my publishers (and I suppose me to some extent) luck, for TLC’s cover is a finalist in the EPIC Ariana Awards for book cover art. Winners announced in March.