Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Missed Connections

Photo courtesy of freeimages.com

Hello, duckies! So much for warm weather; fall has fallen and shows no sign of getting to its feet any time soon. Of course I don’t mind cooler weather, especially when there are so many lovely wooly things to knit. I’m just about to sew up the shoulders of a kimono-style jacket, so we’ll make this month’s missive a short one.

We’re all familiar with the use of and when stringing subjects together, yes? The polka-dot blouse and plaid pants were hideous. Indeed. This sort of pairing (eye-watering qualities aside) is fairly straightforward. A compound subject, a plural verb.

Now for the tricky part.

Suppose you like your prose a bit on the flowery side? You might decide to use in addition to, or together with, or any number of substitutes. Will you still use the plural verb?

Ah, I see several smiles and shaking heads. Good for you. Connective phrases such as along with or as well as do not make your subject plural. The manager in addition to his clerks was trampled by the overzealous shoppers. Of course, in this example, the right way still feels somewhat awkward. When this happens, consider going right back to good old and when structuring your sentence. The manager and his clerks were heard to scream like banshees as the stilettoed tide washed over them.

There you are. Short and sweet, just like my morning stack of pancakes. Now if you’ll excuse me, I must make a decision about the sleeves of my jacket. Three-quarter length, or full? Ah, well. I suppose I’ll just knit until the pattern bores me. In the meantime, stay warm, and remember: a well-turned phrase is always in style!


Photo courtesy of Darrick Bartholomew

Having recently purchased a bicycle, the Style Maven spends a great deal of time in the kitchen, compounding liniment. She was involved in a standoff two weeks ago; the details can be found on the Procraftinator page at kofo.com.

4 comments :

  1. Rules we must remember, rules we can forget, rules we never heard of--so much to learn, so much to recall, so much that needs to become second nature so we aren't distracted by what-is-the-rule questions nagging at us when we are pounding out a tense scene. Who says writing is an easy job? Thank goodness for the Chicago Manual of Style, as well as a variety of simpler but savvy grammar books. Excellent post, Style Maven. :-)

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  2. Loved the lesson, Style Maven, and I do hope you get your jacket finished before the snow flies. Long sleeves that cover the hands might be a good way to stave off frostbite.

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  3. So, you're saying polka dots and plaid don't go together? No wonder my wife held her nose when I walked out the door this morning.

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  4. Subject-verb agreement is very tricky. Thanks for this treat.

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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