Monday, June 24, 2013

Grammar Police Monday - All Cued Up

I hate change. I really do. 

While processing a crit from my new CP, I discovered one of the many grammar lessons drilled into my head for most of my young life is no longer a rule. I'm speaking of the comma-before-too rule.

I was always taught that anytime you're using too to mean also, you should put a comma before it (or commas around it if it comes in the middle of the sentence). According to the CMoS website Q&A, that's no longer true.

From their site:

Use commas with too only when you want to emphasize an abrupt change of thought: He didn’t know at first what hit him, but then, too, he hadn’t ever walked in a field strewn with garden rakes.
In most other cases, commas with this short adverb are unnecessary

My frustration is, the comma (or lack of one) signals usage/meaning for me. When it's missing, my mind expects an adverb or adjective to follow.

Ex: He stood too.
My brain: "He stood too what? too quickly? ...Oh, wait. The author meant 'he stood ALSO.'"
And just like that, there's a speed bump in the prose. :(


I'm headed to my writing cave to sulk. 
Here's a short usage lesson...

Elicit vs Illicit
The verb elicit means to draw out or bring forth; to evoke.  

The dean cleared his throat and raised a brow to elicit a response from the reluctant student. 

Illicit (adj.) means unlawful or immoral.  

Becky discovered her husband was having an illicit affair.


Cue vs Queue

Cue (n.) is a stimulus that excites to action, a hint; also a long, tapered stick used to play billiards; (v.) to prompt, to prepare (cue up).  

When my brother and his wife exploded into their nightly argument, I took that as my cue to leave.


Queue (n.) braid of hair worn in back; a file or line; (v.) to arrange (as in computer data) or to form a line (often followed by up).  

The queue outside the DMV was long. It wrapped half way around the building.

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That's all for today.
Thanks for visiting. :)

22 comments:

  1. I'm first in queue to comment today! And thanks for the comma info too. (;

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    1. Woot!
      (We won't tell the others about your time zone advantage. :P)

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  2. I didn't know the 'too' rule at all.

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  3. Maybe that's why I've always used 'as well' instead of 'too?'

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  4. I also didn't know the too rule. I hate comma rules in general and always mess them up, they are my nemesis LOL.

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  5. Hmmm -- very good thoughts about too. Thanks, Melissa, as always for your very helpful tips.

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  6. I am so awful with commas. Thankfully I have an editor!

    I do feel your pain. When the rules change, it just feels awkward!

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  7. I ignore grammar rules. If I want someone to pause, I put a comma. If a sentence is chock full of them, I'll take some out and replace with - or ; or . Rules are made to be broken, and I break them so well :-)

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  8. This new commaless too usage is new to me. I will say that it will most likely also be news to my copyeditor as she's never removed a comma around too in my manuscripts.

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    1. It's apparently been this way since at least 2009, if not earlier. It's nice to know I'm not the only one who hadn't heard.

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  9. Oh man. No comma before "too"? I guess I need to make that change too! (Haha)

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  10. Queue has a surprising amount of meanings.

    Isn't it weird how the grammar rules change? I think it's not right without the comma, too. (No, I'm not changing it)

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  11. So who gets to decide about these rule changes anyway? Can we vote them out of office? ;)

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  12. I'm with you. That needs a comma or it is confusing. Gah. I still don't have the old rules down, how am I going to learn all the changes?

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  13. I honestly don't understand WHY grammar rules should change. Our language is set, why mess with it? It only confuses teachers, students, and FOREIGNERS... Could you even imagine trying to learn to write our language as a foreigner? WE have difficulty because of it changing so often. So I TOTALLY understand your frustration.

    Thanks for the new grammar tip today Melissa. They are always so helpful.

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  14. great. another shift in grammar rules. sigh. but i suppose we all have to keep up with the changes.
    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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  15. Awesome as always, Melissa!!!

    :D

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  16. See, this is why we need smart cookies like you, to keep up with all the grammar changes and shifts!

    Sarah Allen
    (From Sarah, With Joy)

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    1. Ha! Considering how long this one slipped my notice, you might want to look elsewhere for your grammar adivce. LOL

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  17. Don't ya hate it when they go and change the rules on ya? ;)

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  18. OMG, Commas are my writerly cryptonite. Don't even get me started. (Don't think I spelled cryptonite right.) ;)

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