Author Topic: was and were  (Read 5081 times)

LucyLastic

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Re: was and were
« Reply #15 on: January 25, 2014, 07:04:02 AM »
Me too, Jewel. But people often don’t speak in a grammatically correct way, and I’ve heard people say “if I was”. So rather than go against the grain, I chicken out and avoid any of my characters needing to say either.

I mean, we love our characters, don’t we? I don’t want mine committing that grammatical blunder.

JewelAS53

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Re: was and were
« Reply #16 on: January 25, 2014, 09:38:28 AM »
 :D

Offline Joe Mynhardt

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Re: was and were
« Reply #17 on: January 25, 2014, 09:43:22 AM »
I keep it simple and just ask myself if it's wishful thinking. If I were a rich man.  :D

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Offline AlanBaines

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Re: was and were
« Reply #18 on: January 25, 2014, 10:36:12 AM »
I think the time has come when strict adherence to this particular rule of grammar has become pedantic and counter-productive.

Yet it remains a rule. We cannot as individuals choose to ignore proper grammar and then expect publishers, editors, and even readers to accept that decision.

And I am hard pressed to understand how the use of proper grammar can be counter-productive. 

Pale Writer

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Re: was and were
« Reply #19 on: January 25, 2014, 08:40:44 PM »
When they overpower the story. That's when they become counter productive.

LucyLastic

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Re: was and were
« Reply #20 on: January 26, 2014, 02:33:43 AM »
Pale, by "they" do you mean correct usages of grammar? I'm at a bit of a loss, too, because I don't understand how correct grammar can overpower a story.

I can, however, understand how incorrect grammar can detract from a story by making it difficult to read.

Offline AlanBaines

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Re: was and were
« Reply #21 on: January 26, 2014, 03:13:18 AM »
I can understand not wanting to write in a formal and stilted manner. I would prefer to read:

Ben felt bad about all the things Jane had been going through.

rather than

Ben felt bad about all the things through which Jane had been going.

But if I read "If I was you I'd phone him," I would not assume it was a style choice. I would assume the author was lacking in grammar skill.


Pale Writer

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Re: was and were
« Reply #22 on: January 26, 2014, 08:16:57 AM »
I guess it depends how you look at grammar, and what is correct. When is one more powerful than the other.

Maybe we won't see eye to eye in this subject so discussing it will lead no where.

Offline AlanBaines

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Re: was and were
« Reply #23 on: January 26, 2014, 12:11:06 PM »
Pale Writer, you may opt of the discussion if you wish. Others might feel different. Someone might be learning something.

Offline Laura H

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Re: was and were
« Reply #24 on: January 26, 2014, 02:54:31 PM »
When they overpower the story. That's when they become counter productive.

I agree with this. When I read a story I don't want a grammar lesson, I want a page turner.

There's a difference between writing in a conversational tone and poor grammar.
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ― Maya Angelou

“Don't be like the rest of them, darling.” ― Eudora Welty

Jo Bannister

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Re: was and were
« Reply #25 on: January 26, 2014, 03:41:09 PM »
Sorry, Alan, but even those arbiters of English usage at the Oxford English Dictionary have flagged this one up as yesterday's grammar.  That doesn't make it wrong, just old-fashioned.  And there are places where strict adherence to an old-fashioned rule seems right, but increasingly there will be more where it seems wrong. 

Pale hit the nail on the head: she doesn't want a grammar lesson - especially in a usage no longer universally accepted - she wants the book she's reading to flow.  If you notice the grammar, it isn't doing its job.

Offline AlanBaines

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Re: was and were
« Reply #26 on: January 26, 2014, 04:33:37 PM »
When I read a story I don't want a grammar lesson, I want a page turner.

I fail to see how reading a book written with proper grammar equals getting a grammar lesson.

Offline AlanBaines

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Re: was and were
« Reply #27 on: January 26, 2014, 04:42:17 PM »
When I read a story I don't want a grammar lesson, I want a page turner.

There are two situations where proper grammar is not required.

1) in dialogue, where anything goes
2) in a first-person narrative where the narrator is a Huck Finn-type, a character not expected to be grammar literate.

With the exceptions of those above, can you name even one published page-turner you've read that didn't use proper grammar? (Self-published stories don't count.)