The Basics of Grammar: A Tutorial (Lit)

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The Basics of Grammar: A Tutorial (Lit)

Post by RabidFox »

This is the completed result of my attempt at a grammar tutorial. Note that not all aspects of grammar are covered in this tutorial, and that only the more basic attributes of English grammatical structure are focused on. I hope that this can be useful to those that are seeking help in this area. Critique on this piece for future improvement is welcome.

The Basics of Grammar
A Tutorial

Introduction

I cannot stress enough the importance of grammar. Having, at the very least, decent grammatical abilities is extremely helpful to make any writing - Casual, novel, or role-play - sound more natural and comprehensive. One’s writing talents display not only a fictitious scene, but the very character of the author themselves. The world of the creator comes to life through their pen, but if the image presented is ridden with grammatical clashes, then the blurriness of these errors can very much ruin the joy of entering the offered world. When simple language mistakes are corrected, a huge improvement in imagery is guaranteed to be noticed.

Base
  • Capitalize the first letter at the beginning of every sentence.
  • Use correct punctuation marks.
  • Make proper spaces where needed.
  • Break up text into proper paragraphs.
Erroneous: (1)i went to school yesterday but (2)didnt go to school today

Change Red Highlighted to:
1. I
(Capitalization Error: “I” is the first letter of a sentence.)
2. Didn’t or did not
(Apostrophe Error: “Didn’t” is a compound word)

Insert:
A comma before “But” and a period at the end of the sentence.
(Punctuation Errors)

Acceptable: I went to school yesterday, but didn't go to school today.

Best: Yesterday, I went to school, but today I did not.

Time words like “Yesterday”, “Now”, and “Finally” sometimes sound better when they are placed at the beginning of a sentence instead of at the end. Also, using separate words rather than compound words gives a more formal tone, though, this feel is not always desirable.

Comas should be used to separate ideas and objects, but the comma can (And sometimes needs to) be dropped when two ideas or objects are closely related.

Erroneous: The (1)wonder years is a crappy(2), and dull show.

Change Red Highlighted to:
1. Wonder Years
(Capitalization Error: “Wonder Years” is a title)

Remove Green Highlighted:
2. The comma separates two closely related ideas.

Correct: The Wonder Years is a crappy and dull show.

Correct: The Wonder Years is a dull and crappy show.

Notice how much different the sentence sounds when you mix up the word order? This is something to keep in mind when aiming for a particular feel.

You do not want to drop the comma before the "And" of a list. Doing so is not incorrect, but can give an awkward presentation of the sentence.

Awkward: I like coffee, beans and bread.

Insert:
A comma after “Beans”.
(Awkward)

Better: I like coffee, beans, and bread.

A good paragraph should consist of at least five sentences, though, this length is not always desirable in certain situations. All the sentences in a paragraph should relate to the same topic, and flow together smoothly.

Good Example:

Today, I took a car trip to Yellowstone Park, with my friends in tow. It was pretty boring until we started throwing nuts at squirrels, and then things quickly became a lot more interesting. However, one of the squirrels that had been subject to our childish torturing fought back. The angry squirrel leapt onto the shoulder of my friend, Keith, and viciously bit off his ear. Terrified for our lives, me and my other friends abandoned Keith, of who was slowly devoured by the rabid squirrel and other squirrels that had joined in the bloodbath.

Bad Example:

I went to yellowstone park with my friends and started being jerks to the squirrels by throwing nuts at them. It was fun but the squirrel suddenly became angry and killed Keith and we ran for our lives.

Explanation:

The bad example could have been illustrated in a much more interesting manner. Not to mention, it’s riddled with grammatical errors. Be descriptive when writing, though, try not to be over-descriptive. In other words: Lacking doesn’t help, Adequacy is your friend, and Extravagance is your foe.
Last edited by RabidFox on Fri Oct 31, 2008 3:22 pm, edited 9 times in total.

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Post by Madame »

A nice, concise tutorial, Todd and I thank you very much for presenting it. I do take some issue with your explanation of commas and lists, though. As I was taught in school, whether you include a comma before "and" is more a stylistic choice than set rule as a comma is meant to take the place of "and" anyway. Traditionally, a comma was placed before "and", but more and more in modern writing, it is left out. I personally switch back and forth when I'm not paying attention, but I try to go for no comma as I find ", and" vaguely distracting.

Something else I would like to have seen would be a short piece on punctuation in conjunction with quotations. Some of those can be tricky, especially when you're quoting someone else in say, a research paper and the puncutuation may go on the outside of the quotes as opposed to the regular inside punctuation.

Anyway, it fulfilled its purpose...oh! That's something else. Sorry, my mind is wandering. Perhaps something next time to do with commonly confused words like "its" and "it's" or "there", "their" and "they're". Back on track, yes. Good. Me like. *nods*
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Post by RabidFox »

@Madame

Thank you for your criticism. It is much appreciated. Perhaps the comma usage that I explained has changed since it was published? I will have to look into that one, as I originally read the rule in an old Webster's Dictionary. But, yes, I will have to focus on quotations and commonly confused words in my next grammar tutorial.

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