I'll admit it--I'm a member of Grammar Correctors Anonymous. Seeing printed material that violates sacred rules of grammar just impels me to pull out my imaginary sharpie (a la James Spader in Secretary) and go to town.
So below, I have thirteen egregious grammatical errors. Now, as writers, we have the artistic license to bend and break certain rules FOR EFFECT--things like fragment sentences. Comma splices (run-on sentences), maybe. But violating the list below isn't artistic--it's an oversight. Thank God for good editors! Even I miss some of these in my final drafts!
1. Your/you're: YOUR is a possessive pronoun (Is that your copy of Sidney Somers' Primal Pleasure? Why yes, that is mine!). You're is a contraction for you are (You're waiting for the September 14th release of Erin Nicholas' Just My Type, too?)
2. Misplaced modifier: When you have an adjective phrase, the nearest noun is the word it's modifying.
Example: Aroused beyond control, her lips captured his in a fiery kiss.
In this sentence, her lips are aroused, not her whole body.
Correction: Aroused beyond control, she captured his lips in a fiery kiss.
3. Their/there/they're: THEIR is a possessive pronoun (At the book signing at RT 2010, I want to get books signed by all the Nine Naughty Novelists. Their blog is awesome!). THERE is a location (I'm going there, too. Luckily, RT is in Los Angeles, which is a super-cool city because Skylar Kade lives there!). THEY'RE is a contraction for they are (I hear it's possible they're going to give a workshop at RT!).
4. Its/It's/itself: ITS shows possession (Have you read Kelly Jamieson's 2 Hot 2 Handle? Its cover is SMOKIN!). IT'S is a contraction for IT IS (You really should pick up PG Forte's Edge of Heaven. It's a super-sexy genre-blending read. ITSELF is a reflexive pronoun and it is ONE WORD (By itself, Meg Benjamin's Be My Baby is a great read, but it's better if you start from Venus in Blue Jeans and read the Konigsburg series in order.)
5. Parallel structure: This is a tricky one because it is so often broken in everyday speech. When you have a series in a sentence (words, phrases, dependent clauses) they must be in the same form.
Example: I like hiking, reading Juniper Bell's books (especially My Three Lords), and long walks on the beach.
Here, we have two gerunds (verbs in -ing form that act as nouns) and then a noun phrase.
Correction: I like hiking, reading Juniper Bell's books (especially My Three Lords), and taking long walks on the beach.
6. Comma splice: A comma splice is better known as a run-on sentence. While these can be judiciously used to mimic panicked or excited speech, they're often the product of an error and not artistic license.
Example: I need to get Kate Davies' The Devil Inside, it has lots of hot, sweaty, down-and-dirty lovin'.
There are two complete sentences (subject, verb, complete thought) joined with a comma. There are a few ways to fix this.
Correction 1: I need to get Kate Davies' The Devil Inside because it has lots of hot, sweaty, down-and-dirty lovin'. (We've subordinated the second independent clause with the word "because")
Correction 2: I need to get Kate Davies' The Devil Inside. It has lots of hot, sweaty, down-and-dirty lovin'. (Two complete sentences separated by a period.)
Correction 3: I need to get Kate Davies' The Devil Inside; it has lots of hot, sweaty, down-and-dirty lovin'. (Complete sentences separated by a semicolon shows the sentence ideas are related)
7. Among and between: Among is used when there are three or more entities involved; between is used for two.
Example: Between you and me, Kinsey Holley's next book after Kiss and Kin is going to be awesome!
Example: Among the Nine Naughty Novelists, we have our own (very strong) opinions about packaging, but we all agree: Wine is good.
8. Coordination of Actions: When two actions are happening at the same time, you can use a participial phrase (-ing acting as an adjective) to modify the main clause (the complete sentence and where the action takes place).
Example: Opening the ring box, the Hero proposed to the Heroine .
These two actions (opening and proposing) are happening at the same time. When you have subsequent actions, they need to be separated with AND
Example: The Hero opened the ring box and proposed to the Heroine.
This is largely a matter of style, but sometimes two actions cannot occur simultaneously (Tearing off her shirt, he flung it to the ground) in which case, coordinate the actions with AND.
9. Anyway and Anyways (Toward and Towards): While many dictionaries won't catch this, Anyways and Towards are not actually words.
Example: Anyway, even if you bribed us, we wouldn't reveal the Super Sekrit Project. Toward the end of September, you'll know what we've been planning.
10. Farther and further: Farther deals with DISTANCE, further deals with EXTENT.
Example: Skylar is farther away from Canada than PG is.
Example: We are further along in the Super Sekrit Project than we'd anticipated.
11. Fewer and less: Fewer is applied to countable objects. Less is used for ambiguous amounts.
Example: There are fewer than 20 stages of the Super Sekrit Project. There is less than a month before it will be revealed!
12. To, too, two: TO is a preposition (shows relationship between two objects). TOO means also or in addition to. TWO is the number.
Example: I want to go to Amazon.com and buy two new books. Too bad, so sad, I need to wait for my new Kindle 3 to arrive to read them. Are you waiting for yours, too, or did you buy a Nook?
13. Plural vs. possessive: This is the one error most commonly made, so far as I've seen. An APOSTROPHE IS ONLY USED FOR POSSESSION. They are not attached to the "s" you stick onto the end of a plural noun.
Example: The Nine Naughty Novelist's are an amazing group of writer's that you should follow! Their Super Sekrit Project is going to entertain their blog reader's for week's!
Correction: The Nine Naughty Novelists are an amazing group of writers that you should follow! Their Super Sekrit Project is going to entertain their blog readers for weeks!
You get a cookie for reading all the way to the end! Well, not really, but you CAN leave a comment--what is your grammar pet peeve?