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The Grammar Insurrection 1160

#Reviewer#Seminar#Style-and-Usage

Chances are, if you didn't sleep through school, someone tried to teach you how to underline predicates and what a participle is. If you were lucky, they taught you to diagram sentences.

They probably never taught you why any of this matters. This is the Grammar Insurrection, discussion of how to make images by combining words. This is grammar as you've never seen it taught before.

Online or in school you can find plenty of places that will teach you how to place commas, make verbs agree with their subject, and so on. Here at the Grammar Insurrection, we say that doesn't matter so much. Mechanical issues are secondary. Of course you want your prose to look nice, but the true heart of fine grammar is correct and clear usage.

But first, the structure and rules. This is a seminar thread, not a review thread, and will it run differently from them. We discuss one passage at a time. Please bring your own writing for discussion, but be ready to learn from others before (and hopefully after!) your turn comes.

1 - Everypony is here to learn, even reviewers, even myself.
2 - Everypony is here to teach when possible, even the newest writer.
3 - Passages for discussion should be shorter than one thousand words and suitable for general discussion. Specifically,
a - Not everypony wants to read about heavy kissing and/or kicking, so action passages are limited to an "Everypony" rating.
b - Sometimes it's an artistic choice to write unclear prose. That's fine, but it doesn't belong here.
4 - Be nice (towards each other).
5 - Be strict (towards prose).

Now I will take a perfectly good piece of writing and ruin it two ways. This comes from Brian Jacques' Mossflower. First, I will scratch up the presentation, the mere mechanics of punctuation and spelling. Second, I will ruin the flow and usage. If you believe, as I do, that the first is better, you might just be a good candidate for the Insurrection.

gonff teh mousethief padded sailently along the passaj from thee larder nd storeroom of kotir . he waz a plup littl creature clad inna gren jerkin wiv a broad bukld belt

he wuz a ducker an a weaver of life a marvelus mimik balad riter singer and lokpik and very jovial wiv it all . the woodlandrs wer immensely fond of the littl thief . gonff shrugged it all off calling every kreachur hiz matey in imitation of the otters whom he greatly admired

chukling quietly to himself he drew the smol daggr from his belt and cut off a weje fram teh cheez he was carring . slung around his shouldr waz a larj flasc uv elderbery wine wich he had also stollen from the larder . gonff ate and drank singing kwietlee to himsef in a deep bass voice betwene mouthfulz ov cheez nd whine

the prince uv mousethieves honors you
to vizit eer this day
so keep ur larder door shut tite
lok ol ur food awy
o foolish onez go chec ur stor
uf food so rich and faine
be shur that ill be back for mor
espeshalee this wine


at the sound of hevvee paws gonff fell silent . melting back into the shadowz he huddld down and held his breff

two weezls drest in r-more and carring spears trujded past . they wir argyuing heatedlee


As Gonff the mousethief walked silently along the passage that lead from the larder of the castle of the wildcat king Verdauga Greeneyes, Kotir, he looked plump being a little creature who was clad in a green jerkin with a broad buckled belt. He was a ducker, a weaver of life, a marvelous mimic, wrote ballads, singing, was a lockpick, and was very jovial with it all. The woodlanders were immensely fond of Gonff. He shrugged it all off while he called every creature his matey imitating the otters he greatly admired. As he chuckled quietly to himself, he drew the small dagger from his belt cutting off a wedge from the cheese that he was carrying. Before, he also had stolen from the larder a large flask of elderberry wine which was lung around his shoulder. Gonff ate and drank and was singing quietly to himself in a deep bass voice between mouthfuls of cheese and wine.

The Prince of Mousethieves honors you,
To visit here this day.
So keep your larder door shut tight,
Lock all your food away.
O foolish ones, go check your store
Of food so rich and fine.
Be sure that I’ll be back for more,
Especially this wine.


Gonff fell silent when he heard the sound of heavy paws, melting back into the shadows. He huddled down before he held his breath. Two weasels dressed in armor and carrying spears trudged past arguing heatedly.

Topic - Predicates and what they do Eustatian!Wings60m9. 1161

Verbs are words belonging to a specific group that show actions, processes, properties, and relationships. You can always recognize verbs because they are the only words that change form by adding "-ing."

Many descriptions of grammar say that some forms of verbs are not actually verbs. I think this is confusing, so in this thread all forms of verbs are verbs, even forms like "fallen" and "being."

Now the confusing part: sometimes adjectives pinch-hit as verbs. I'll bold these in the examples below.

A predicate is a group of words that starts with a verb and includes all the words that describe that verb. Every verb has its own predicate, which might be just the verb or might include other words.

> I see you.

predicate: see you

> I stop and think

predicate: stop
predicate: think

> I see you standing there

predicate: see you standing there
predicate: standing there

In this last example, one predicate contains another. This can happen. It's called recursion. "there" describes "standing" which describes "you" which describes "see" - and this sentence isn't terribly complicated!

With complex sentences, it's clearer to group words by which verb they belong to most directly, which I'll call chunking-by-predicate.

> I | see you | standing there.


Linguists like to argue which perspective is closer to how the brain actually works. We can say

full predicate: see you standing there
basic predicate: see you

Example, chunked : (from D. Rush's Digimon fic, Tamers Forever! - the prose of which isn't particularly good. Can you see why?)

Takato | jumped back until he | hit the counter, | at the same moment all of his body's blood | moved to his face. | The Rika he | had in front of him | looked very different from his "dream" Rika. | She | had her hair in her "unique" style, | and her heart-breaker t-shirt | proudly covered her body. | And the look, well… | let's not talk about the look. | The last time Takato | had seen Rika, | more than a month ago, | had been result of a complete coincidence, | pretty much like this one, too. | But, at least, | to Takato's eyes, | she | looked as beautiful as he | remembered. | Of course, | there | was absolutely no way he | would say that aloud in front of her, | unless he | wanted a slow and painful death. | The only day he | would tell her about his secret crush | would be the day she | became a nice person; | that is, never. | However, he | knew that | behind that cold, quiet and almost frightening exterior, | there | was a nice, caring and charming woman, and | releasing Rika's real self | was his long-term objective. | At least the whole Digimon adventure | had been a good start. | In the meantime, Rika | was waiting for Takato | to calm down, | and his face | to regain its usual color (not red).


Example : (from my own Fear of Falling)

Fluttershy's heart | felt like it | wanted to sink through her breast and | keep going all the way to the ground, | but she | took a deep breath and | tried to imagine what she|'d do if her best friend | wasn't making her heart | pound | and a hot blush | spread across her ears.

Rainbow | carried on, | apparently oblivious to her condition. | “That hill|'s usually good for a decent one.” | She | pointed down to a low hill | capped with a wide stretch of bare rock | baking in the sunlight. | Even Fluttershy | could recognize the pattern in how the upper branches of trees | swayed towards the hill's peak: | that | meant feeder winds and a strong updraft.

“C'mon, Fluttershy.” Rainbow | banked | and beat her wings, | setting course for the air above the hill. | For a moment, | Fluttershy | hesitated. She | wanted to chase that beautiful tail. | Dash | deserved better. | She | bit her lip, | composed herself, | and followed.


Next up, I'll look at what predicates do. Anypony have a passage to recommend?


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