locution defined:

: a particular form of expression or a peculiarity of phrasing; especially : a word or expression characteristic of a region, group, or cultural level
: style of discourse : phraseology

Source: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/locution


To BE or not to BE: Reduce 鈥渢o be鈥 verbs to improve your writing



Developing writers often rely on 鈥渢o be鈥 verbs when communicating action. To-be verbs are all forms of 鈥渂e鈥: is, am, are, was, were, be, being,聽and聽been. In some student papers, English teachers might find 鈥渋s鈥 as the verb in the majority of sentences. Even professional writers struggle with the over-reliance on 鈥渋s鈥 as a verb. So what is so wrong with using 鈥渋s鈥 and other to-be verbs in writing? Oh dear! I just used is as a verb in that last sentence!

Take a look at the following example:

The girl is pretty.

What does 鈥減retty鈥 look like? Is creates a vague description. What does the girl鈥檚 pretty actually look like?

The girl has flowing auburn hair, crimson lips, and eyes I could drown in for days.

In the first example, the is verb creates a lazy sentence; it isn鈥檛 showing the鈥

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Order matters how?


Write about what?

YodaPuppetWhile diction determines word choice, syntax determines where the words are placed. Language without syntax are words strung together with no method to the madness鈥搃n other words, nonsense. Our normal syntax mimics what we have heard before.聽Unique syntax requires mixing up that order without creating nonsense.

Do you recall Yoda鈥檚 distinctive style of speaking in the Star Wars movie series? Simply take the predicate object or predicate adjective at the end of a sentence and move it to the front. Voila鈥揧oda speak. 鈥淏ut what is a predicate object and predicate adjective?鈥 you ask mystified. Basically it is everything in a normal syntax that follows after the verb.

Learning how to use syntax to create a unique voice requires a fundamental knowledge of grammar. I recall creating lengthy diagrams parsing complex sentences in my junior high days. But, diagramming went out of vogue (probably due to lack of time) just like鈥

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Word Traffic Court

Alphabet Story

鈥淗ow does this sound? I read aloud my newest blog entry to my husband.聽 鈥淚 know the syntax isn鈥檛 exactly correct.鈥

鈥淭hat鈥檚 so,鈥 he said.聽 鈥淪ounds a little off.鈥

鈥淗ey, I鈥檓 using poetic license,鈥 I said in my defense.

鈥淎h, if that鈥檚 the case, I think they should take away your license.鈥

As I 聽edit my latest work in progress, ( patting myself on the back at reaching close to 50,000 words) it looms large about how much poetic license I can take and yet adhere to the rules I learned so long ago. (The decade being the 鈥50s when learning to diagram sentences was a requirement) 聽 I made an A in grammar, by the way, but 聽does being a stickler about all that make for interesting writing?聽I am leaning toward the view that聽although correct use of syntax is important, it is not 聽necessary to adhere in all鈥

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First Post

Let鈥檚 understate the import of this blog by asking one question: What is grammar? Simply and redundantly put 鈥 grammar is how language works.

One simplistic rule of thumb I like to use: Are your ducks in a row? If they are, then, presumably, logic is at work. At least some sort of logic.

ducks n a row