I’m no grammarian, in fact I suck at it. I scored in the tippy tip top on my Verbal SATs back in the mid 70’s and still failed my College English 101 grammar proficiency test, which stunned my grad student teacher. I just barely passed on the second try. I have a reasonable vocabulary, and I can usually tell if something “sounds right” in context. Mangled grammar tends to usually (but not always) sound a bit “off”.
So anyway, I am a grammar tard. I have accepted this fact about myself and over the years I have developed a few rough and ready rules I’ve picked up here and there to get by. I am curious, however, just how applicable these rules really are, and if any need updating. I’d also like to know if any other grammar impaired dopers have little grammar and writing tricks of their own I can steal.
This is NOT a thread for some well meaning grammarian to tell me to please, pretty please read some lovely grammar book that they just *know *will make me write all better. It’s not going to happen. Gerunds and I will never be friends.
Here is list of my grammar tard ritin’ rules. What are yours?
1: Try to put a comma where there is a natural (even slight) conversational pause in the sentence.
2: Put a comma between sequential items in a list: i.e. bread, cheese, milk, eggs etc.
3: Stay away from semicolons, too tricky. When in doubt use colons.
4: Use an apostrophe for conjoined words, i.e. were are = we’re.
5: Use an apostrophe where you are expressing that the things described somehow belong contextually to the person or concept being apostrophized, i.e. “cat’s kittens” or “train’s passengers”.
6: If you’ve unsure about comma usage fall back on parentheses to make a parenthetical comment. You can’t (usually) go wrong with a good set of parentheses.
7: Always use double quote marks. If you find you need to quote inside a quote re-write the sentence.
8: If you are unsure about capitalizing certain words in titles and intros just uses the “drop capitals” font and cap the whole thing.
9: Two spaces after a period to start a new sentence. I know this is considered an old “typewriter era” rule, but I still use it.
10: Put commas before and after "however’ when it is used to move from one idea to the other and has a lengthy pause associated with it (see second paragraph of this OP).