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Grammar Police Monday - Carol Kilgore Visits

I'm guest posting for Carol Kilgore, Under The Tiki Hut today. And she's guest posting for me. It's a blog swap!

Here's Carol...

When Melissa and I decided to switch blogs for a day, she asked if I would do a top ten grammar list, since Mondays are her normal Grammar Police days. I said sure.

This was back in January. Remember that.

It’s now June. In between, I jotted down all sorts of funny, strange, or weird grammar gaffs as I came across them. These notes filled two or three pages. In March I hosted a month loaded with giveaways. And in April, I went on a blog tour for my new book. I’m also a proud survivor of the A to Z Challenge that lasts the entire month of April. And in May I fell apart, picked up the pieces I could find, and started over.

Somewhere during this time, I lost all my grammar notes. Most likely, I tossed them thinking they were part of some finished project. Things were a little crazy. And I should know better than to think I could keep track of notes for six months.

So I started over with grammar notes, too. While I could fill a list of ten and have leftovers, they wouldn’t all be funny or clever. So I’ve opted for five that I hope come close. With commentary. I hope this is all right with you and with Melissa.

The M&M Rule
It’s chocolate.
Women always remember chocolate.
The M&M Rule applies to who/whom.

Use WHO if you can replace WHO with HE.
As in WHO let the cat out? HE let the cat out.

Use WHOM if you can replace WHOM with HIM.
As in To whom did you send the query? Did you send the query to him?

Whom and Him both end with the letter M.
Hence…the M&M Rule.
Chocolate. Melts in your mouth.

Easily Confused Words
Some favorites:

If you don’t know the differences, look them up. After all, we want to make sure we don’t write about cereal killers with baited breath. Cheerios with anchovies? Blech!

That Dang Participle
And by dang, I mean dangling.

Going to the mall, a squirrel ran in front of my car.
What? The squirrel was going shopping? Did they have a sale on nuts?
On my way to the mall, a squirrel ran in front of my car and zoomed up a tree.
Better. Whew!

To Oxford or Not to Oxford. What is the question?
Some say you must use the Oxford, or serial, comma. Some say no, it’s old-fashioned and clunky. Both sides say it adds confusion, and each can produce examples to prove its point. Actually, the AP Style Guide, used primarily by journalists, says no. However, the Chicago Manual of Style, used by most book publishers, endorses its use.

Whichever you choose, be consistent. Do not use it when it’s necessary for clarity if you’re not using it elsewhere in the project. Instead, rewrite. In the end, your editor will want your work to conform to house style, whatever that turns out to be. So remember … you may find part of your edits will include adding or deleting this particularly testy comma in your manuscript.

And my favorite EVER grammar thingie.
Oh, yes, it is. You may have seen this before, but it’s so awesome that I have to share it here. No matter how many times any of us have seen it.

I don’t recall the exact lead in. A group of people sat in a room. These words were written on a whiteboard: woman without her man is nothing

The instructions were to keep the words in the same order and punctuate them correctly.

The men in the room punctuated this way:
Woman, without her man, is nothing.

The women:
Woman: Without her, man is nothing.


Carol Kilgore is an award-winning author with several short stories, essays, and articles to her credit. Her two novels, Solomon’s Compass and In Name Only, are a blend of mystery, suspense, and romance she calls Crime Fiction with a Kiss. Carol and her Coast Guard husband live in San Antonio, Texas, with two herding dogs whose mission is to keep them safe from all danger, real or imagined.

You can find Carol and her books here:


 Oh, no.  0_0
Carol did such a good job, I may be out of one.
Thanks, Carol.

And thanks to all of you for visiting!
If you have time, go over to Carol's blog
In my guest post for her, I talk a little about myself, but mostly about fiction--what I like, why I like it, and why I write what I do.


  1. Maybe the mall has a Squirrels R Us store?
    And a bowl full of serial just isn't a good.
    Clever and funny, Carol. You did it even without your notes!

  2. LOL! I've seen that one on punctuation. I wonder if that squirrel was carrying a reusable bag?

  3. Funny and very useful. Thanks for the tips! On my way over to Carol's blog (:

  4. Melissa - Thanks so much for hosting me today!

    Alex - Serial just isn't crunchy :)

    Bish - Didn't see one!

    Elise - My pleasure.

  5. Great tips. The last example is great! Good to see you out visiting Melissa (already been to your blog!)

  6. Hi, Melissa, Hi, Carol,


    LOVED the squirrel racing to the mall to buy his nuts. LOL.

    You definitely make grammar faux pas hysterical. Thanks for the laugh! AND, the lesson!

    Also the punctuation test.... TOO FUNNY!

  7. I try to stick to whatever is in the Chicago Manual of Style.

    I'm in trouble with the M&M rule - I don't eat chocolate.

  8. What a fun post. Loved the last example! :D And I couldn't help but laugh a little that you lost your original grammar notes. I could totally see that happening to me.

  9. I love the last bit! Hang, hung, and hanged are tough only because the correct usage always sounds wrong! ;)

  10. Julie - Glad you liked it!

    Michael - I only wish grammar teachers would use a little humor. All the ones I had were members of the Grammar Police Force.

    Diane - Same for me. And I'm pretty sure who/whom is covered :)

    Julie - LOL! I was sure they would turn up. But no. March and April are a bit of a blur.

    Southpaw - I agree!

  11. I saw a pic of a cereal killer, it was kind of fun but good to make me memorize the rule. The last example of punctuation was very funny!

  12. Thanks so much for rules. I love the M&M one! I always get confused about further/farther and lay/lie, and many many more I can't remember at the moment!

  13. Love how you demonstrate how punctuation can change the meaning of a sentence! Thanks!

  14. Al - I think I saw that pic, too :)

    Linda K - I'm pretty solid on further/farther. Not so much with lay/lie. I have to stop and think about that one most of the time.

    Natasha - Amazing, right? At least I think so. Great meeting you!

  15. What a bizarre coincidence. I wrote a post on easily confused words today, but at the last moment pulled it to save for next Monday. Fortunately, I cover different words. Unfortunately, the post isn't near as clever as yours.

    Way to wrangle those grammar rules, Carol!

    VR Barkowski

  16. Carole - this word nerd loves grammar lessons. When I was teaching English to 7th graders, I wish I had known to call it the M&M rule...would have made them remember it better. Heck, I'd even have passed (as opposed to past) out some for a double whammy of a memory device ;-)
    Have you read "Eats Shoots and Leaves"? It's also about punctuation and grammar.
    Tina @ Life is Good

  17. I love that "Woman without her" story.

    I go nuts at the way people don't use the "me" pronoun anymore. So they say things like, "Thank you for the gift you gave my husband and I." ARGGG!

  18. My goodness you do get about. Thank you. Following you (stalking you?) I have been introduced to some wonderful bloggers and their homes. It is apostrophes, whether missing or misused, which are most likely to provoke ne into a hissy fit.

  19. VR - Oh, I bet it is. Your post today is fantastic!

    Tina - I just made that up. But it made sense to me. I know of "Eats Shoots and Leaves," but I've only read bits and pieces of it.

    Helena - Cool. The I instead of me goof sends one of my cousins straight through the roof...and her mother always says it. She explained to her why it's wrong, and her mom said, "I sounds proper. Me doesn't." What are you gonna do?

    EC - LOL! I'm a regular gadabout :) I'm usually good with apostrophes. Not so much with hyphens. My editor is, though :)

  20. Ah, this is great! I really enjoyed this piece. Only problem is now I want some M & M's :)

  21. Very nice! I love the explanations. :)

  22. Love the punctuation example and how men and women would do it differently. Women are right, of course. Just the other day, someone tried to convince me that whom was archaic, and no longer really used. I wanted to say, "To whom do you think you are speaking? I am a Grammar Geek!"

    Great post!!

  23. Grrrrreat post! I loved it.

    Oh, and I want some M&Ms now, too. Peanut, please.

  24. Great tips, Carol, and fun to read, so easy to remember. Just yesterday I was near the end of a NY published book and a character road in the car somewhere. I suppose he road on the rode. You think? I had to look twice to see if *I* had it wrong. Grammar is really tricky sometimes.

  25. I was soooo excited to hang with a buddy of mine this Saturday over at Paradise Pedals Hawaii (you *gotta* check this out if you enjoy an adult beverage) that I wrote in an email - tonight - "Yes, we bought enjoy a few pints."

    Oh my... and I call myself a Riter? :)

  26. Hey, Carol!

    What a fun grammar lesson. I think I'll actually remember this!

  27. Tia - Of course women are right :) Great to meet you!

    Susan - I should have brought some fun-size ones :)

    Jan - Where was that copyeditor when they needed her? Maybe snacking on some M&Ms!

    Mark - Laughing! Maybe one pint too many LOL! Sounds like a fun time :)

    Jennifer - Cool!

  28. Nicely done, Carol. You put in some very good rules and made it very easy for people to remember them.

    Definitely using the M&M rule from now on. :-)

  29. Love the M&M rule. Who and whom always get me.

  30. Misha - Cool. I need chocolate :)

    Rula - Now you'll have a great editor to keep that from happening :)

  31. That may be the best use of a semi-colon EVER. Love it, Carol!

    Hi, Melissa!

  32. Your favourite EVER grammar thingie is the best!
    The battle of the sexes in grammatical form! LOL
    Thank you ladies!
    Writer In Transit

  33. I love the M&M rule almost as much as the grammar thingie. Believe it or not, I've never see that before. It's hilarious! Thanks, Carol! : )

  34. Emily - Agreed.

    Michelle - Exactly!

    Cynthia - Now you're in the know!

  35. Your M&M rule rocks! I'm going to copy and paste this post into a Word doc. I love chocolate :) The squirrel example had me chuckling :)

  36. Words Crafter - Thanks! Ha-Ha...made you laugh :)

  37. These are great. Now I'll better remember when to use who and whom.

  38. Lol! M&M sounds like a good way to remember whom and who!


  39. Medeia - Good luck! I still have problems when it's part of a phrase.

    Nas - Most of the time :)

  40. It's been great blogging with you, Melissa. Thanks so much for hosting me!

    1. Absolutely! It was a pleasure. And a ton of fun swapping blogs. :)


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