Saint Mary's University Writing Centre

Halifax, NS

Editor’s Corner

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CMOS Shop Talk

Do you follow grammar “rules” that you don’t understand?

Carol Fisher Saller

Picture writing a rough draftThose of you who use social media are used to seeing comments from sticklers who object to any deviation from the grammar rules they learned. The following sentences would not likely pass their inspection. Can you tell why?

Sentence 1. At the donut shop she had trouble getting her order out.
Sentence 2. Hopefully, none of the donuts are gone.
Sentence 3. But etiquette forced me to share the donuts.

People who are fuzzy on the rules might fail sentence 1 for ending with a preposition, sentence 2 for beginning with hopefully and treating none as a plural instead of a singular subject, and sentence 3 for beginning with but and containing a passive.

The problem is, however, that they would be wrong on every count.

Sentence 1. Although out often serves as a preposition {He hurried out…

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