Monday, June 10, 2013

Grammar Police Monday - Oh. No. They. Didn't! (Oh yes, they did.)

The following examples of bad writing came (believe it or not) from a publisher’s website. Their FAQ page was written in a conversational tone, but it had glaring errors that shouldn’t be there. Especially if the goal is to attract authors. And readers!

Two mistakes involved ending sentences with a preposition. And, before you ask, I’m not going to name the site. Bashing them is not my purpose. Teaching proper grammar is.


The statement: You should never end a sentence with a preposition is false. There are instances when it’s okay to do so. But most of the time, such construction IS incorrect, so we should view 'caboose' prepositions as red flags and consider each one individually.

Excerpt #1...
What format will my book be available in?

This one isn’t horrible, but it sounds a tad unprofessional, especially considering the venue. A correct alternative is: In which format(s) will my book be available?

Excerpt #2...
Where will my book be available at?

I’m sorry, but that sounds like something a high school dropout would say.  I literally cringed when I read it.

In this sentence, the word at isn’t only misplaced, it’s unnecessary. The sentence already has a preposition in the proper location—the word where. The correct way is: Where will my book be available?

The rule this illustrates is: If you can remove the preposition at the end of a sentence and doing so doesn't change the meaning, you don't need it.

Excerpt #3...
What genres are you looking for?

This phrasing is acceptable. Technically, the correct version is: For which genres are you looking? But that is so ultra-formal, it isn’t used much anymore.

Another time we’re allowed to end a sentence with a preposition is when it’s part of a phrasal verb. Phrasal verbs are things like cheer up and run off. 
Go over to the computer and log on.


There’s one thing that needs good editing worse than a soon-to-be-published book—the publisher’s website.

###

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


25 comments:

  1. Looks like that website needs to a new ghost blogger.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup. It wouldn't have been as much of a shocker had it been any other business, but a publisher...? *shakes head*

      Delete
  2. That's funny those were on a publisher's site. I wonder if they accept that type of wording in their submissions?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've actually read a book published by them, and while it could have used a better content edit, it didn't have many P.U.G.S. errors. But that could be due to the skill of the author, though, and not the editor.

      Delete
    2. I wondered the same thing! Yikes.

      Delete
  3. When I was a little girl, I would ask my mother things like, "Where's my sweater at?" or "Where are we going to?"

    She would always answer, "Between the A and the T." Or, "Between the T and the O."

    Didn't take me too many times to learn to leave those off. That was one woman who was bound and determined that I learned at least a little grammar before I started school. She said it was important that I learned to speak correctly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My mother was relentless. And I'm grateful for it now. ;)

      Delete
  4. One wonders if, since it was their FAQs, they thought it would sound more conversational to have them posted as they were asked, no corrections. But I agree, it just sounds odd. Especially the second one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought about that, but, if that's the case, it wasn't a wise choice. :\

      Delete
  5. Every time I hear the word, "preposition," I automatically get a headache - but only from trying to explain it to sixth graders all year :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL

      I taught my kids (3rd thru 7th graders - while homeschooled) using Easy Grammar. With that curriculum, preposition is a wonderful word. ;)

      Delete
  6. Great examples. I hear a lot of people saying we should just go with the way people speak. Ugh Which people?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True. That's why some of the ultra-formal phrasing is seen less and less. (And in fiction dialogue, if it fits the character, even gross grammatical errors are okay.) But I still think venue matters. There's a big difference between a personal blog and a publisher's website.



      Delete
  7. Oh you. ;) #2 is my favorite... Er... Least favorite?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Glad Grammar Police Mondays are back!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Is it weird that I think "In which formats" sounds weird? I guess I'm too used to bad grammar. Though I really do hate it when sentences end with "at". Not including that one...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Because it's changing, some of the phrasing is subjective. And there's definitely a difference in the way people speak and the way they write. ;)

      Delete
  10. Crazy! I would never submit to a publisher who had typos on their site!

    ReplyDelete
  11. This is so interesting! And funny, of course.

    www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  12. I have no wish to be arrested by grammar police just because I don't know what to end my sentences with. ;-)

    ReplyDelete

I love to hear what you have to say.
Thanks for taking the time to comment. = )