Sharing Good Advice

I strongly recommend this link for writers. Write Tighter, Write Smarter:

http://querytracker.blogspot.com/2012/09/write-tighter-write-smarter.html

It’s not exactly grammar, but it’s useful in honing your writing skills.

Cheryl

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Agreement Between Pronoun and Antecedent

When writing, be grammatically consistent. Common errors editors find are in pronouns not matching their antecedents in number, gender, or person. Some examples are as follows:

  • The dog scratched his ear with its hind leg.
  • Each of the students has a chance of passing the course by themselves.
  • When it snowed, each tree and shrub appeared as if they were hulking white ghosts.
  • No one may enter without their photo identification.
  • You have to do what is right, although one may find her actions unpopular.
  • It isn’t easy for her in this economy when people are struggling to pay their bills.
  • In our family the children have rights, but you have responsibilities as well.

In each example the pronoun doesn’t match the antecedent in either person, number, or gender. The dog is either an it or a him, but choose and be consistent. You is first-person and her third. Again, choose the person and stick with either you or her.  Here are the examples again with grammatical agreement:

  • The dog scratched its ear with its hind leg.
  • All of the students have a chance of passing the course by themselves.
  • When it snowed, each tree and shrub appeared as if it were a hulking white ghost.
  • No one may enter without his or her photo identification. (or No one may enter without photo identification.)
  • You have to do what is right, although one may find your actions unpopular.
  • It isn’t easy for her in this economy when she is struggling to pay her bills.
  • In our family the children have rights, but they have responsibilities as well.

These are suggested correction; there are alternatives. Just remember to keep agreement in gender, number, and person between pronouns and antecedents.

Past and Passed

A writer friend posed this question recently. When do you use past and when do you use passed?

Very good question. Remember the following rules and you’ll avoid the dilemma:

  1. Past is an adverb describing when.  It was past the deadline.
  2. Passed is the past tense of pass, which is a verb. He passed the ball on the fourth down.
  3. Pass and Past may also be nouns; passed isn’t.  My visitor’s pass was part of my past.

Or do as I do. Forget the rules and just memorize this line: I passed the store when I drove past it.