And the Saga Goes on . . .

After an absence of a couple of weeks, I would like to greet you, dear reader, with the following quote. The authorial sentiment in the paragraph below reflects my professional view as an editor and a writer. On a personal level, I could not agree more with the thoughts expressed.

Question: Where do you find yourself, once you have a draft of one of your writings awaiting its next step? Moving in the direction of self-help only or both – self-editing and in search of professional assistance? Your answer will begin to get you on the path toward the fulfillment of your self-designated objective (make sure it is not because of someone else that you decide to opt for one of the alternatives – own your choice / decision). Happy reading!  (Note: The following text is a quote in its entirety. The active link on “Alane Mason” is my addition.)

[*] Do It, Swallow The Medicine

“I tend to edit heavily and repeatedly as I go along, so I don’t make the distinction, at least by myself. For the books that I’ve written for a larger public, however, I’ve had the help of an immensely gifted editor (Alane Mason, at Norton), so there I do separate out the tasks: in effect my own writing/editing; and then a further editing after receiving her suggestions. I tend to hate the latter experience, though I recognize that it is almost invariably good—a bit like swallowing disagreeable but essential medicine.

Stephen GreenblattHarvard Professor, author of  The Swerve, that landed on the bestseller lists and won both a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award

Unscrambling . . . Continued

Continuing with language parts . . . on their way to complete sentences (or questions, if you would so prefer). The same conditions apply as last week’s workout (!) Clarity, coherence and cohesiveness for the final product. As for content and context and the subject, your call!  As before: Compound as well as single sentences have the green light.

Sentence / Question statement parts appear below in the form of nouns, verbs, adjectives / adverbs and / or fillers (a brief insight into these meaning-enhancers was present on last Friday’s post).  Like last week’s scrambled words, each one of also today comes from a murder mystery novel by Lisa Jacksson. I hope you will enjoy this activity.

Toward sentence or question statement #1:

  1. mind; hope
  2. can (either in its indicative or subjunctive mood); think; be; respond; hope (please note that this word also appears above in a different language function)
  3. straight; not; clear (or in its negative form)

Toward sentence or question statement #2:

  1. chance; trouble; focus
  2. shake; decide; have; focus (another red alert); be
  3. but; another; aloof; icy; even; always


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







Self-Help: Grammar-Check, II


As promised, continuing from last week, we arrive at the announced stop today: Verb-Subject-Agreement. Without getting into a detailed discussion on the matter of different tenses of a verb, which also poses an obstacle to our writing endeavors, I aim to highlight only the basic aspects of the focal language element.

The most slippery road in this regard appears before us in the shape of the sentence part known as the “noun”. To conjugate a verb that articulates the action of a singular noun as opposed to the conjugation of one performing the same task for a collective noun is the key here. In speaking, we more often than not resort to a blurred application when the harmony between the verb and the subject is concerned. When the same innocent glitch takes place in a *written text, however (*written as opposed to an audio-narrative), we, as writers, lose our learned audience. For our sentence-construct then lacks clarity loud and clear.

  • Let us consider the noun, “family”. We all know that a family is made of more than one person. Hence, the fact that this word is a “collective noun”, which automatically designates for it a verb conjugated in the singular form:
    • My family takes a trip to the same seaside town every summer.
  • Whether we use the same verb in its progressive present or present perfect tense form, the same rule applies:
    • My family is taking a trip to the same seaside town this summer. / My family has taken a trip to the same seaside town this summer.

Note only “has” in the second sentence above, i.e. the helping verb, a.k.a. the “auxiliary verb”, for “taken” is a past participle form, and as such, does not / cannot signify singularity or plurality. Nor do / can the same verb’s simple past, past perfect and future tense forms help us in determining whether or not we have a singular or a collective noun in our hands (My family had taken a trip to the same seaside town when I was ten. / My family will take a trip to the same seaside town this summer.]

  • Then, we have compound subjects, for which we have to conjugate our verbs in their plural forms:
    • My brother’s family and mine go on the same trip every summer. Or:
      My brother’s family and mine get along very well. Or:
      My brother’s wife and mine have the same Yoga instructor.
  • However, as soon as we designate a singular noun to a verb, the verb must also appear in its singular form:
    • Lately, my brother or his wife goes on the same trip with me alone.
      My brother’s wife no longer gets along with mine.
      My brother’s wife now has a different Yoga instructor.
  • What happens to the rule of focus when the subject and verb are divided by a phrase? The same rule applies yet once again:
    • Nowadays, my brother, with his nephew James, goes on the same trip.

Next Post: Direct Objects and Prepositional Objects






Self-Help: Grammar-Check, I

We rely on language in order to communicate. In its spoken, written and signed forms. I have no experience nor do I possess any expertise in sign-language. As for spoken language, this platform is obviously not appropriate. Written language, however, is a discipline I have worked with, taught extensively and used for personal writings throughout the majority of my adult-life. Based on my prolonged and active involvement with language in its written form, I take the liberty to post related texts on this site.

Phonemes, morphemes, lexemes, syntax, and context are the five elements of language. It is through the joint work of these components, along with grammar, semantics, and pragmatics,  that we create meaningful communication. It is not my intent to turn this post into a classroom subject-matter with a barrage of materials to digest for no practical purpose. I would like to highlight instead some functional information regarding grammar, the most important building-block of the structure we call “language”.


And today’s sentence d i s s e c t i o n begins . . .

The integral parts of a sentence we sometimes tend to forget and, as a result, neglect, are: Subject ~ Verb (a.k.a. the Predicate) ~ Object (Direct and Indirect Object)

  • In order to identify the subject (italicized in the sample sentences below), we ask the question “who” or “what”:
    • The award-winning writer was invited to a book-reading.
    • A book-reading was planned in honor of the award-winning writer.
  • The verb / predicate is the word that articulates the action of the subject:
    • Respectively, “To invite” and “To plan” in the sample sentences above (in their base, or, infinitive forms)
  • Any sentence can have a direct and an indirect object all at once, or display only one of the object forms. Neither one of the sample sentences used here have an object. Imagine this example:
    • The award-winning author gave away several copies of his debut book. (The italicized sentence part constitutes a direct object.)
    • The award-winning author gave his / her audience several copies of his debut book. (The italicized sentence part constitutes an indirect object.)

Next Post: Verb-Subject Agreement, and more . . .