Five Grammar Rules I Made Up
Here are five grammar rules you’re probably not going to find anywhere else, for a very simple reason: I made them up. They’re not foolproof, but they work great for me.
1. Avoid the word “reason.”
Of course “reason” is a useful and perfectly good word. But it often gums up sentences. Safe bet: Try rewriting the sentence without it.
2. Don’t start a sentence with “by.”
Good writers start sentences with “by” all the time. I do it too. But student writers tend to come up with something messy like this:
By going to bed early helped me feel rested for the big test. WRONG
This version would be better:
By going to bed early, I felt rested for the big test. BETTER
But why take a chance? Cross out “by” and rewrite the sentence:
Going to bed early helped me feel rested for the big test. BETTER
3. Avoid using more than three commas in a sentence.
In the real world there’s no limit to the number of commas you can use. But once you insert your fourth comma, you’re likely to have a complicated sentence. And once a sentence gets complicated, there’s probably a better-than-even chance than an error or two will creep in. Keep your sentences simple.
4. Avoid “being.”
I’ll admit to breaking rules 1 – 3 from time to time. But I never break rule #4. (Well, maybe once a year.) “Being” has my vote for the most awkward and troublesome word in the English language. If “being” finds its way into one of your sentences, get rid of it. Immediately. Be ruthless.
5. Don’t let a comma touch the word “that.”
Any English teacher or professional writer reading this can probably come up with forty or fifty sentences with a comma next to “that” in no time at all. (I know this is true because I can do it myself.) I’m standing my ground, however. Most of the time it’s wrong to put a comma right in front of – or in back of – that. This handy rule has saved me from a zillion comma errors. Highly recommended!
|Today’s Quiz ANSWER
Today’s sentence is incorrect. All right should always be spelled as two words. (That means always: No exceptions!)
Here’s the corrected sentence:
Everything looked all right until I went into the kitchen. CORRECT