Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sidestep Those Grammatical Traps!

Sidestep Those Grammatical Traps!

I'm finally reviving the moribund and giving my blog site a more lighthearted tweak. With so much to daunt us as we try to dodge, sidestep, or -  in moments of temporary insanity -  meet head-on those pointy proverbial slings and arrows of daily life, offering a little levity can be therapeutic. At least, that's my intention. It may fall short because we all have different senses of humor, and some of us have no sense of humor whatsoever. 

I'll try to keep on track - that is, stick to topics on writing, editing, publishing, literacy, and children's literature. Other pet interests may push their noses around the corner from time to time if I become too enthusiastic about them, but I can always give them a grammatical bash over the head so they "fit" in.  

I also plan to offer my thoughts, and the thoughts of guest bloggers, on a regular basis. I'll start with once a week. How about every Wednesday? I suggest this day for absolutely no particular reason. Your ideas are more than welcome.

In this blog, I'll tackle something I come across all the time in my editorial wanderings: the dreaded dangling modifier. This sneaky grammatical trap is all too easy to fall into. Here's an example:
Sheila caught sight of a kangaroo looking through her binoculars. 
Assuming the kangaroo is not that smart, the sentence should read: 
Looking through her binoculars, Sheila caught sight of a kangaroo. 
Here's another example: 
Having offered a few grammar tips, your comments are welcome.
I'm sorry but your comments didn't offer the grammar tips. I did. The correct version is:
Having offered a few grammar tips, I welcome your comments. 

Here's a little trash bin of grammatical and stylistic mistakes. Try improving the paragraph yourself. I'd love to see your corrected versions in the blog comments. Alternatively, you can send them to me at maggielyons66 at gmail dot com and I'll publish them, unless the volume of enthusiastic responses is overwhelming. In that case, I'll have to pick and choose. Ah! To dream! In my next blog, I'll explain some of the bloopers here.

Walking through the door, the clock struck thirteen. Confused by so many chimes, it was no surprise Charlene bumped into the wall. With a throbbing head, she tried to lay on her stained and worn-out boyfriend’s sofa where a pile of beer cans were on it. Stomping to the kitchen, she picked up the beer cans, dropping them down on the floor, laughing gleefully as she loudly yelled, “Gotcha, Wayne!” Leaving the kitchen, she passed the clock and rapidly hurled it at the front door that started opening suddenly. She hit a man that was coming in. It was her boyfriend Wayne. “Oops,” she gulped regretfully as she bit her lip. Wayne did not respond as due to the affect of the clock he was laying unconscious, and the clock would not stop chiming continuously.




6 comments:

  1. Ooh, fun. I rewrote this. As you can see, I took some liberties with the phrasing:

    The clock struck thirteen as Charlene walked through the door. Confused by so many chimes, she bumped into the wall. Since her head throbbed, she tried to lie on the stained and worn-out sofa she'd inherited from her boyfriend, but, alas, it was piled high with beer cans. Gathering the cans, she stomped into the kitchen, where she dropped the cans one by one onto the floor, each time with a loud, gleeful yell, "Gotcha, Wayne!" As she left the kitchen, she passed by the clock. Grabbing it, she hurled it at the front door just as it started to open, hitting the man who was coming in. It was her boyfriend, Wayne. "Oops," she gulped regretfully, and bit her lip. Wayne, who was stretched out unconscious on the floor, did not respond, but the clock continued to chime.

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  2. Gosh, I do not know Maggie. My eyes skipped through the passage, then leaped back to the part where "the clock walked throught the door and struck thirteen". I was really confused by that! Of course Charlene was confused because she ran into a wall because her ears were revolting against the constant chimes were making. And then to make a mountain out of a mold hill, she tried to lay on the couch which her stained and worn-out boyfriend stashed his beer cans on. Obviously feed up, she headed on the way to the kitchen when she forcefully slung that clock at the door as it start to open suddenly...that was just priceless!!! I would have laughed boisterously, "Gotcha Wayne!"

    Joelle Walker =)

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  3. Maggie, here's my take on a moment in Charlene's sad life;

    Charlene walked through the door and looked at the clock. It was striking thirteen. Confusion caused her to stumble and bang her head against the wall. Head throbbing, she headed for her boyfriend's worn, stained couch but was prevented from throwing herself upon it by a pile of beer cans. Gathering up the cans, Charlene stomped into the kitchen where she threw them onto the floor and laughingly cried, "Gotcha Wayne!" (Doesn't make sense? Blame her throbbing head.)
    Back in the hallway Charlene grabbed the clock as she passed it and hurled it at the front door hoping to see it smash into a zillion pieces. Instead, it bonked Wayne in the head as he stepped into the house.
    "Oops" she said, gulping. Chimes filled the air as Wayne lay in an unconscious heap.

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  4. Okay. Enough silliness. I suppose you wanted something a bit more serious. Joelle

    Charlene stood in the hall, listening, counting…then she walked through the door, just as the clock struck thirteen. Thirteen? Confused, she whirled and ran into a wall. Her head throbbing and a bit dizzy, she stumbled toward her boyfriend’s stained and worn-out sofa, which unfortunately doubled as a recycling receptacle for empty beer cans. Disgusted, Charlene snatched up the cans, stomped to the kitchen, and hurled them across the floor. “Gotcha, Wayne!” she yelled to the empty room, laughing wildly.
    Marching from the kitchen, she passed the clock, which had begun a new round of chimes. Ding…ding…ding… She grabbed the infuriating clock off the wall and hurtled it at the front door that had at that very instant, started opening. The man coming through the door was her boyfriend Wayne.
    “Oops.” She gulped, biting her lip.
    Wayne did not respond, however, because in fact he lay unconscious on the floor.
    And the clock continued to chime…

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  5. A big thank you to all who have commented. I'll try, with your help, to make this column fun.

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  6. Walking through the door, the clock struck thirteen. Confused by so many chimes, it was no surprise Charlene bumped into the wall. With a throbbing head, she tried to lay on her stained and worn-out boyfriend’s sofa where a pile of beer cans were on it. Stomping to the kitchen, she picked up the beer cans, dropping them down on the floor, laughing gleefully as she loudly yelled, “Gotcha, Wayne!” Leaving the kitchen, she passed the clock and rapidly hurled it at the front door that started opening suddenly. She hit a man that was coming in. It was her boyfriend Wayne. “Oops,” she gulped regretfully as she bit her lip. Wayne did not respond as due to the affect of the clock he was laying unconscious, and the clock would not stop chiming continuously.

    As Charlene walked through the door, the clock struck thirteen. Confused by so many chimes, it was no wonder she bumped into the wall. Her head throbbing, she decided to lie down on her boyfriend's stained and worn-out sofa, but it was piled with beer cans. She gathered them up, stomped into the kitchen and dropped them onto the floor laughing gleefully. "Gotcha, Wayne!"

    Charlene passed the clock, which was still chiming, on her way back to the living room. The door opened suddenly and she hurled the clock at it, hitting the man who entered. It was her boyfriend, Wayne. "Oops!" She gulped, biting her lip. Wayne lay unconscious on the floor and the clock kept chiming.

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