Granny Grammar’s Test #1: Answer Key

Screen shot 2013-02-21 at 10.01.00 AMHere are the answers to Granny’s first test. How’d y’all do?

 

1. An apostrophe is kinda like…

  • A chicken
  • A water balloon
  • A helium balloon that floats to the top of the line and sits at the ceiling
  • One of those long, skinny balloons that you can twist and make things out of, like a wiener dog. (Can you really twist a wiener dog and make things out of it?)
  • Other (please specify)

2. Which of the following sentences is NOT correctly punctuated?

  • I like to eat apples and bananas.
  • He’d rather eat apple’s than bananas.
  • I like to ite ipples and bininis.
  • Oo look to oot ooples oond boonoonoos.
  • Other (please specify)

3. What is Apostrophe Rule 1a?

  • Always return RSVPs.
  • Always return RSVP’s.
  • “I” before “E” except after “C” and when sounded like “A” as in “neighbor” and “weigh” and also some other weird instances.
  • When two vowels go walking, one of them’s likely to turn an ankle.
  • Other (please specify)

4. Which of the following IS punctuated correctly?

  • Mind your P’s and Qs when taking this test.
  • What are you planning to do with all those PHD’s you’ve spent your life collecting?
  • What are you planning to do with all those Ph.D’s you’ve spent a fortune collecting?
  • What do you think about this quiz, that its too silly?
  • Other (please specify)

5. Which of the following statements is both true AND correctly punctuated?

  • Apostrophe’s are pushy and rude.
  • Apostrophe’s are gentlemen and let other punctuation go first.
  • Apostrophes are frequently used to form possessives.
  • Apostrophe’s are possessives’ best friend’s.
  • Other (please specify)

6. Which of the following sentences is NOT correctly punctuated?

  • It’s hard to say how often its meaning is misinterpreted.
  • If you’re unsure when to use an apostrophe, it’s not permissible to rephrase the sentence.
  • The cat’s back wasn’t as dirty as I’d expected after Freddy threw it in the mud.
  • It’s feet and legs were plenty muddy, though.
  • Other (please specify)

7. Which of the following statements is both UNTRUE and INCORRECTLY punctuated?

  • Craig and Yvonne’s house is smaller than their breadbox.
  • Craig’s and Yvonne’s breadbox is bigger than their house.
  • Craig’s and Yvonne’s ideas of good TV are not the same.
  • Craig and Yvonne’s grandchildren live in a different state.
  • Other (please specify)

8. Which of the following sentences IS correctly punctuated?

  • How do the new Academy of the Sciences’ policies affect the United States’ economics’ paradigm?
  • How many politicians’ are of different species’?
  • How many orangutan’s does it take to run for political office?
  • How much ground would a groundhog hog if groundhog’s could hog ground?
  • Other (please specify)

9. Which of the following sentences is NOT properly punctuated?

  • Curious as to the Ganges’s source, he shrugged and walked away, being embarrassed to ask.
  • Curious as to the source of the Ganges, he asked the tour guide.
  • Curious as to the Ganges’ source, he followed the mighty river upstream until he got bored and googled it.
  • It’s never occurred to me to wonder about the Ganges’ source.
  • Other (please specify)

10. What is Rule #7 of Granny Grammar’s apostrophe rules?

  • To avoid drama, check the Chicago Manual of Style to be sure.
  • To avoid a tragedy like one of Euripides’, embrace Camus’ brave new world of proper apostrophe application, for goodness’ sake.
  • To avoid a tragedy like one of Shakespeare’s, buy Camus’ Brave New World and circle all the apostrophes.
  • To avoid using your limited time wisely, create a survey like this for fun, relaxation, and review of apostrophe rules.
  • Other (please specify)
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Granny Grammar Returns

Screen shot 2013-02-21 at 10.01.00 AMOkay, y’all. I’m back. Did you study your lessons from last time?

First, a review; then more lessons. We’re still exploring the wonderful world of apostrophes. Remember those fellers? The commas-like things that are like bitty little helium balloons that float up to the top of the line? Yeah, those critters.

Like most toys, you can play with ’em, but you have to follow the rules. Last time we learned four of those rules:

Rule #1: Don’t use an apostrophe to make a plural.
Rule #1a: Always return RSVPs.
Rule #1b: Ys Words says you should be y’s about this if you hope to earn any Ph.D’s.
Rule #2: An apostrophe is a possessive’s best friend.
Rule #3: Use an apostrophe to hide missing letters.
Rule #4: It’s is a contraction for it is.

Now for the new stuff:

Remember the rhyme you learned in grade school, When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking? Well, ignore it for now, because this next apostrophe rule is nothing like it. According to Rule #5, when speaking of co-owners, you only give an apostrophe to the second name or noun. Hardly seems fair, but that’s the rule. Examples: Sam and Sue’s house. Or, the sparrows and starlings’ feeder.

But if you’re talking about separate ownership, now, that’s a different matter. In that case, each name or noun gets an apostrophe, thus making everyone happy. Example: my son’s and daughter’s spouses. Or, Detroit’s and Chicago’s snow-removal equipment. So here’s Rule #5: Co-owners share an apostrophe, which the second noun holds; if they don’t share possession, they don’t share an apostrophe.

This next one is interesting. What do you do when a noun that ends in an “s” is singular? Like politics, for instance, or species? Don’t be flummoxed. It’s just like skinning a cat; there are two ways to do it. Option 1: float an apostrophe in the air after the noun (as in, politics’ intrigues) as if it were plural, even though it’s not. Option 2: skirt the question entirely and rephrase the sentence (as in, the intrigues of politics. Except Granny Grammar doesn’t find politics intriguing. She finds it stinky. So a better example might be the stench of politics.)

The same thing goes when you use the name of a place (United States, for example) or organization (like the Academy of Mathematics); you can either add an apostrophe (the United States’ role in the controversy), or take the easy way out and rephrase (the role of the Unites States in the controversy). But whatever your political position, the grammar rule’s the same. Rule #6: If you can’t stand politics’ stench, get out of the kitchen to avoid the stench of politics.

The next rule is exceptional. That is, it deals with exceptions to usual “add apostrophe s” rule. Yeah, yeah, I know, I already gave you some exceptions. Too bad. Here are three more. But they’re weird ones. You might could live your whole life without ever finding yourself in the tight spot of having to know this rule, but Granny wants you to learn it so you’ll have a nice, well-rounded edjucation.

In these three exceptions, you just add an apostrophe (no s):
1) a name containing two or more syllables that ends in an eez sound. (I’m not kidding! This is really a rule!) (Examples: Euripides’ tragedies. Or, the Ganges’ source);
2) words and names ending in an unpronounced s. (Examples: the marquis’ mother or Albert Camus’ novels); and,
3) expressions beginning with for and ending with sake. (Lands alive, what was that again?) Here’s what I’m talkin’ about: for righteousness’ sake or, the go-to prayer wrap-up, for Jesus’ sake. So here’s Rule #7: To avoid a tragedy like one of Euripides’, embrace Camus’ brave new world of proper apostrophe application, for goodness’ sake.

Remember, if you’re uncertain about any of these exceptions, you can always wimp out and rephrase. (So much for a brave new world, eh?)

One more thing, and today’s lesson will be over. (Stop rolling you’re eyes, or I’ll give you that test right now!) Where was I? Oh, yeah: remember those little apostrophes are pushy. Whenever they meet other punctuation in a narrow doorway, they barge through first. Always.

Example: “His smile’s meaning wasn’t as obvious as his kisses’,” she said. Note how the apostrophe jumps in there right away, making the comma follow and the end quote take up the rear. Like chickens, punctuation marks have a pecking order. I won’t give you a rule number for this one. Just remember the apostrophe’s battle cry: “Me first!

Alright, kiddies. Here’s the whole list of apostrophe rules:

Rule #1: Don’t use an apostrophe to make a plural.
Rule #1a: Always return RSVPs.
Rule #1b: Ys Words says you should be y’s about this if you hope to earn any Ph.D’s.
Rule #2: An apostrophe is a possessive’s best friend.
Rule #3: Use an apostrophe to hide missing letters.
Rule #4: It’s is a contraction for it is.
Rule #5: Co-owners share an apostrophe, which the second noun holds; if they don’t share possession, they don’t share an apostrophe.
Rule #6: If you can’t stand politics’ stench, get out of the kitchen to avoid the stench of politics.
Rule #7: To avoid a tragedy like one of Euripides’, embrace Camus’ brave new world of proper apostrophe application, for goodness’ sake.
The apostrophe’s battle cry: “Me first!”

Now, go home and study. Test tomorrow! I hope you’ll all make Granny Grammar proud.

 

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Hey, Y’all (Contemplations on “You” Plural) (Part 1)

file0001217628885Before we begin, a word about the images in this post: To avoid lawsuits by photographers for using their work without permission, I’ve been limiting my image use to those that: 1) I have permission to use; 2) I take myself; or, 3) are royalty-free and in the public domain. MorgueFile is a handy site for finding things like that. Needing images for this post, I searched MorgueFile for pictures to illustrate the subject of “you.” I didn’t expect to find any, but I got a number of results, and the photos here are among them. What they have to do with “you” is anyone’s guess.  But they’ll do in a pinch.

And now, back to the blog post.

The English language (which, sadly, is the only one I’m fluent in) is an endless source of fascination for me, and I could go on and on about it. In fact, I do go on about it (but not on and on) here. Today, I want to focus on one word. You guessed it: the word you. (Maybe we’ll talk about hey another time.)

Though I speak only English, I’m aware that most languages in the Germanic and Latin families (and perhaps others as well) have efficient means of separating the plural from the singular in the second person. (Remember conjugating verbs in school? First person is I/me, second person is you, and third person is he/she/it. All these come in two flavors: singular [just described] and plural [us/we, you, and they].)

I’m grateful to my parents for teaching me to speak properly from the time I was a toddler. But this caused me to be shocked when I started kindergarten and heard my fellow kiddies manhandling the language. One of the common butcheries I heard from that point and forever onward was the illegitimate son pluralization of the second person pronoun, yous. A girl in one of my high school English classes actually asked the teacher how to spell it and was incredulous to hear — apparently for the first time — that it wasn’t a word.

She was right to be taken aback. You needn’t be a linguist to realize the English language needs a plural form of you. So, lacking a proper word, we everyday-English-speakers make up our own. Depending on the location, you might hear locals say yous or yous guys, as they do in the Cleveland area where I grew up, or you-uns, as they do hereabouts (usually abbreviated you’ns), or y’all. Sometimes even all y’all. The more civilized speakers might say you folks. But in writing — unless we’re writing dialogue, or being very informal — there’s no way to tell singular from plural apart from the context; and occasionally, it’s necessary to know if the word is singular or plural in order to determine the context. It can get dicey at times.

What we tend to forget is that once upon a time, English did make the distinction between singular and plural second person. All those thee’s and thou’s in Olde English weren’t fancy embellishments; they actually meant something. Back in the day when King James authorized the translation of the Bible into common, everyday English, people understood that ye was the plural of the singular thee, and you and your were plural for thou and thine.

I’m not sure just when — nor why — those eminently useful words fell out of favor. It doesn’t make sense to drop the use of words that were fully established in common  language and then cobble something to take their place — words that vary from place to place but are considered improper everywhere. Who decided to make this so devilishly difficult?Sarasota_I_love_you

Personally, I like y’all and think it should be standardized. (I’d love to hear our friends in the UK using it.) But that’s not likely to happen. And since linguistic changes evolve on their own without any Language Authority decree, I can’t even suggest you (plural) petition someone to try to make that happen.

I have more to say on this subject, but I’ll spare y’all for now.

 

 

 

 

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A Serious Subject

file0001327025014People look forward to Easter because it’s a sign of spring. Whatever your religious persuasion (or lack thereof), it represents hope (of better weather to come) and light (longer days) and beauty (spring flowers and all around more color in the world).

I take the spiritual aspect of the season with the utmost seriousness. It’s not a matter of flowers and bunnies and new finery, but genuine resurrection and new life–which is a heavy matter indeed!

But there’s another facet of Easter people don’t talk about as much, and I’m serious about it too: marshmallow Peeps.

I don’t care about jelly beans. Most chocolate bunnies aren’t fit to eat (and the rest are too expensive to justify the cost). Cadbury Creme Eggs are so sweet they make my teeth hurt. But Peeps? Ahh…. Peeps…..  Peeps are the real Easter candy.

My earliest memories of Easter involve shopping (I’ve always hated shopping) for a new Easter dress (which I seldom liked but was committed to wearing every Sunday for the rest of the year) with a stupid Easter bonnet that I couldn’t wait to take off when I got home, and even stupider white gloves. The agony! Why do parents do such things to their children? The only thing that made it worthwhile was the basket of Easter candy. And the only thing that made the basket worthwhile was the Peep.

Yes, a singular Peep. My mom was of the opinion that sweets were bad for the health and should be avoided as much as possible. It wasn’t wholly practical to deprive her children of candy entirely, but she doled it out with the greatest of care. At Easter, though, we got a motherlode (to our eyes): a pittance of jelly beans, a little bit of chocolate, and one Peep.

I used to take tiny nibbles of that poor little thing, prolonging its agony/my joy over as long a time as possible. The idea of eating a Peep in one sitting was, when I was very young, an extravagance that never occurred to me.

Because I made my annual Peep last as long as I could, it was inevitably stale before I finished it. At some point, I realized I liked the stale parts best. Nowadays, when I get a package of Peeps (a whole package!!!!), I pull them apart and sit them around peepsthe kitchen to dry. As when I was a kid, I make them last as long as possible. But now, I eat a whole one at a time, though (such gluttony!), and make the package last as long as I can, rather than nibbling each Peep into a gradual, sugary oblivion.

But I only buy Peeps at Easter. Peeps are not to be shaped like ghosts or Christmas trees. They shouldn’t be white or pink or purple. Peeps are yellow. Peeps are peeps. They’re one of the joys of Easter, and should be reserved for Easter alone.

I’m serious.

 

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Saturday Situation Report

report I know what you’re thinking: I thought she wasn’t doing Saturday SitReps anymore?

Well, you’re right. But as you may have noticed, I haven’t been doing much of anything around here anymore. So I thought this was an efficient way to get up to speed.

Once again I’ve had to put my WIP on the back burner. This time, it’s because I’ve been spending my time getting things done around the house. The idea is for us to put the house up for sale soon (yes, I know, I’ve been saying that for the past several years–but we are going to do it sometime) and there’s a lot we want to do to get ready.

Craig’s mom had surgery a few years ago and has been in rehab. She’s making good progress and will be discharged next week–but she can’t be home alone. I’m not sure how much time we’ll be spending there, but I can foresee some visits with her in the near future.

Meanwhile, I have another or link or two to share. Here, I’m featured on Elaine Stock’s blog. If you leave a comment in the next couple of days, you’ll have a chance to win one or both of the Gateway to Gannah books currently available.

Not sure if I’ve posted these links already, but I also appear on two of Morgen Bailey’s blogs (I don’t think the woman ever sleeps). Here, she interviews me in what I think is my best interview ever. And here is an article where I compare editing to pruning fruit trees (a rewrite of an old post that first appeared on Y’sWords two years ago).

I have plenty of ideas for blog posts but haven’t had the time to write them. Hoping to get back on track soon.

 

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