Grammatically Correct?


To my bucket list I added the reading of Fowler’s Modern English Usage (Pocket Edition). Is it too late to insist that I really am a very interesting guy?

I just can’t stand the thought of not finishing it. I used to feel the same way about encyclopedias, but then I was at an age I didn’t know or care about bucket lists. Those days I had plenty of time for everything to get done. As a result, I didn’t.

Today I am feeling a need to expand my limited time frame, but with English usage, not encyclopedias. Besides, Wikipedia expands exponentially.

What better way than to add Fowler’s to my bucket list? I am now on page twenty of what is a six hundred sixty-four page book. It will take me forever.

If you follow me to this point, I have a question which may sound incongruous. As a writer, I can see the need for reading Modern English Usage, but when I arrived at the word “adjective”, Fowler’s referred me to Greenbaum’s Oxford English Grammar.

By the time I read through Fowler’s take on adjectives, I no longer grasped why I cared about a whole book on grammar. The question I have for writers is, do you ever refer to a grammar book? How often and why?

10 thoughts on “Grammatically Correct?

  1. Marilyn Armstrong February 16, 2014 / 4:27 pm

    No. Never. I read what I write out loud. If it sounds like real human language, I’m good to go. I have worked hard at letting GO of a lot of traditional grammar and it wasn’t easy. I still find it painful to let a modifier dangle. But. Complete sentences? Gone. Nary a semi-colon in the boatload (okay, I slip one in now and then). Most of us instinctively match verbs and subjects and basic stuff like that. I own a copy of Strunk & White from college though I haven’t referred to it in many years. I look up spelling online. Ditto synonyms. Otherwise, I just write.

    • fictionfitz February 17, 2014 / 8:02 am

      The bad news is I still might buy it. The good news is you. I am hoping my seventh grade grammar teacher ultimately arrived where you are. She drove me crazy!

      • Marilyn Armstrong February 17, 2014 / 11:02 am

        Grammar books are great coffee table items. It makes people wonder if they should be reading it. Maybe someone will want to borrow it. Also, good doorstops!!

      • fictionfitz February 17, 2014 / 11:15 am

        That did it, I am taking it off of my wish list.

      • Marilyn Armstrong February 17, 2014 / 3:15 pm

        See? I just saved you a few bucks 🙂

      • fictionfitz February 17, 2014 / 3:28 pm

        A rare happening online.

  2. Lynne Spreen February 16, 2014 / 5:57 pm

    No, because my characters aren’t that well-spoken! And you don’t have to insist on being an interesting guy.

    • fictionfitz February 17, 2014 / 7:56 am

      Lynne, I should set my fiction writings to the dialogues of NJ I once knew. Problem is I never understood them. And okay, no more insisting.

  3. New Hampshire Garden Solutions February 16, 2014 / 7:01 pm

    When I’ve written something that doesn’t sound quite right I do. I fall into all the common traps, it seems.

    • fictionfitz February 17, 2014 / 7:54 am

      I think following sound works well for me. Still might spend $10 for book on Kindle to see how bored I can become.

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