Self-Help: Grammar-Check, III

Last week, the focus was on Verb-Subject-Agreement, with an announcement of this week’s focal point: Direct Objects and Prepositional Objects. As before, the intent here is to briefly review these grammatical elements of language.

Direct Objects

The first point to note in this context is the fact that not every sentence appears with a direct object in it. What to be aware of, however, when one does . . . Not much. Identify the subject and the verb of a sentence; if the subject performs an action on an object (a person or a thing), then you have found the direct object:

  • My family takes a trip to the same seaside town every summer.
    • My family = Subject; to take = Verb (in its base form in the sample sentence)

On which word does “family” perform the action of ‘taking’? Your answer here takes you to the Direct Object = “a trip”

PLEASE NOTE: The key concept here is that a verb MUST perform an action in order for a sentence to have a Direct Object. If a verb only indicates a “link”, then there cannot be a Direct Object in that sentence, for example, as in, “My family was always pleased with the accommodations.”

Prepositional Objects

The sample sentence immediately above, the one with a ‘linking’ verb, has no direct object (because it does not indicate an action). It has, however, a prepositional object:

  • My family was always pleased with the accommodations.

The noun “accommodations” is the object of the preposition “with”; hence, the full underlined phrase makes up the prepositional object of the sentence.

The first sample sentence, too, has a prepositional object:

  • My family takes a trip to the same seaside town every summer.

The noun “town” is the object of the preposition “to”; hence, “to town” makes up the prepositional object of the sentence. The words “same” (an adverb) and “seaside” (an adjective), different grammatical elements, function here as modifiers of the prepositional object.

Next Post: A sample text-based worksheet for self-editing practices

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Self-Help: Proofreading / Editing

What I am sharing with you today will appear here in multiple steps (yes, with the hope to have you come back only because it is a vital need for any writer to produce her / his cleanest possible work before sharing it with the reader). Please note: The intent of this post is to initiate a habit in you – if you are not yet addicted to it – toward “copy editing” your written draft of any genre. The focus, in other words, is not “content editing”.
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At the risk of sounding mundane or redundant, I dare to proceed with highlighting the first few steps that are essential in the process of copy editing, each of which is an integral part of the more involved undertaking we over-simplistically call “editing”:
  • Make sure to read your work aloud and to do so at a very slow pace
  • Read the same work vigilantly to catch errors and do so from front to back, and then back to front
  • While you read your work, record your voice (speak as slowly as you have the patience for that out-of-your-norm-pace), and then listen to the small sections of what you have recorded
    • The first time, listen to details that sound out of order (specifically, how you have structured your sentences, your word choice, and phrasing)
    • The second time, read the corresponding text aloud
    • Then, record your voice once again with the new round of reading out of your text
  • Write down what your selected work is about (a synopsis, if you so choose to label it as)
  • Then create questions about the content of your work as a whole but write them at the beginning of each section
  • Compare / Contrast against the fact if your text answers your own questions
  • Make sure all your questions are answered

Summary

Self-editing, even if it is only to copy edit or proofread, is a process that will take more time and effort on your part than working through the same steps for someone else’s work will. Remember always to take your time and to question your own writing. You are, after all, saving yourself the expense of hiring a professional. It is still critical to have someone else – a friend, a co-worker, a family member with acute reading skills – look over your draft work when you conclude that it is finished. The logic behind this undertaking is your thorough familiarity with your own writing: If completely on your own, that intimate author-text-acquaintance presents the risk of you not being able to read what is in actuality in your text. As an outcome, you will not be in a position to catch all surface errors and / or discrepancies in that written draft.

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