Merry and Pippin’s Hall of Grammar Mistakes

Disclaimer: I do not own Merry or Pippin. They popped by and asked if I’d like a day off since they’d like to guest post on my blog. I said yes, and here they are!

Hello, fellow hobbits of the Shire and any other man, dwarf, elf, or other creature reading this today! Merry here. Pippin and I have been learning so much about grammar we’ve been nominated as Grammar Guards, dedicated to protecting English usage throughout the Shire.  We even have special uniforms we wear when we’re out on patrol! We’ve been finding grammar mistakes all across the land. Today, we’ve rounded up a couple we’ve spotted and are sharing them in what Pippin has dubbed “The Hall of Grammar Mistakes.” Now, Pippin, put down that carrot and bring me the first card. No, not that one. That other one.

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We saw this mistake on an appointment card for a dentist. (Didn’t know we had those in Middle Earth, did you?). Pippin was there because he needed a tooth pulled. He had cracked it when he fell off a table while he was dancing at the Green Dragon. He hit his head on the edge of the table, and that poor tooth just cracked in half. Ouch! There was so much blood! Rosie was so mad that we had made such a mess that she threw us out of the Green Dragon with a prohibition against any future dancing on tables.  Anyway, when we received the appointment card, Pippin saw this mistake right away. He kept pointing to it because he couldn’t speak with all that gauze in his mouth, of course, and I finally realized what he was trying to tell me. There’s not supposed to be a comma between appointment and is. We both agree a misplaced comma is a loss to everyone.

thankyou

One of our fellow hobbits sent us a letter with this ending as a “thank you” for the wonderful apples Pippin shared with him. Unfortunately, the letter’s closing is incorrect. Pippin suggested he should change it to read “Thank you. From, Unknown Hobbit” (The name has been changed to protect the identity of this hobbit.) Then, Pippin told him he wouldn’t share any more apples until he had fixed his grammar mistake. Now the two are no longer talking. Perhaps you took your authority as a Grammar Guard a bit too far there, Pip!

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This was spotted in song lyrics. We were supposed to be practicing singing for a birthday party when Pippin suddenly stopped singing and pointed to the page. “It should be ‘you’re my hope’ instead of ‘your my hope’,” he explained to the other mystified hobbits. Thankfully, one of the hobbits had quill and ink, and we were able to fix the grammar mistake before anyone else saw it. Grammar Guards to the rescue again!

Officers could not find the third person, beloved to be a man.

I was reading my local Shire newspaper one fine morning with a cup of hot tea when I found this mistake. I almost spit my tea out I was so horrified! Even though this isn’t a grammar mistake, the Grammar Guards had to take action! I showed our local Shire editor, and he was very apologetic. Because of that (and the fact that he offered me a strawberry tart), I didn’t see the need to arrest him for the mistake.

Even though we’ve been appointed Grammar Guards with special uniforms, we’re still learning about grammar ourselves.  We’re not perfect (and sometimes we even make grammar mistakes!), but we try our best to correct grammar throughout the Shire and help our fellow hobbits learn. We’ll be back another time with more grammar errors to add to the Hall of Grammar Mistakes.

Have you found any horrible or funny grammar mistakes before? If so, what were they? Let us know in the comments below!

~ Merry and Pippin

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Grammar Rule – How to Steal An Apple Using Commas

Disclaimer: I do not own Merry or Pippin. They simply dropped by on their way home from Frodo and Bilbo’s birthday party (which was on September 22nd) and asked if they could help me out. Of course, I said yes. They’d like to take this moment to wish Frodo and Bilbo a happy belated birthday. 🙂

Pippin was walking to Merry’s house when he saw the biggest, juiciest, reddest apple he’d ever seen just sitting on a barrel. Pippin’s stomach growled. He could almost taste the crisp fruit from where he was standing. Pippin looked both ways and then darted over, snatched the apple up, and polished it on his shirt. He was about to take a big bite when a shout came from behind him.

“Pippin! That apple is mine not yours! I just put it there a minute ago.”

Pippin turned around to see his friend Merry standing there, very miffed. He folded his arms across his chest as he glared at Pippin.

Pippin looked at the apple, then back to his friend. Something Merry had said bothered him. “Merry, you forgot a comma!”

Merry shook his head. “I know there was no need for a comma in that sentence! You’re just trying to distract me as you run off with MY apple.”

Pippin shook his head. “No, Merry. I’m pretty sure you’re missing a comma!”

Oh no! Who was going to solve this grammar mystery? Was Pippin just trying to steal a snack or was he really concerned for his friend’s comma usage? Read on to find out! 😉

Contrasting Commas

“This is my precious, not your precious!” Gollum told Sméagol.

When you have contrasting parts of a sentence, a comma is needed between the two parts. In this example, Gollum is contrasting “my precious” with “your precious,” so a comma is needed between the two.

Aragorn never takes a bath, unlike Legolas who takes three baths a day.

Words like “not,” “never,” and “unlike” often indicate a contrast. In this sentence, Aragorn’s bathing habits are being contrasted with Legolas’s, so a comma is needed between the two parts of the sentence.

Denathor always compliments Boromir, never Faramir.

There is a “never” between Boromir and Faramir, which shows they are being contrasted. That means a comma is again needed.

That apple is mine, not yours!

Sorry Merry, but Pippin was right. The “not” indicates a contrast between “mine” and “yours.” That means a comma is needed between the two parts.

Merry sighed, realizing that Pippin was right. “I guess you win that one, Pippin. It’s still my apple, though.”

Pippin handed the apple back to his friend wistfully. “I suppose it is.”

“It’s quite a big apple for one Hobbit to eat,” remarked Merry. “Why don’t we share it?” Merry sliced the apple in half with his pocket knife and handed one half over to Pippin.

Pippin smiled and took the offered half. “Now it’s both our apple! Which makes the commas even easier to figure out!”

Merry and Pippin say thanks for reading! 🙂

~ Kayla

 

Grammar Rule – Commas and Adjectives

Disclaimer: I don’t own Merry or Pippin. They just popped by and asked if they could help out. So, of course, I said yes. 🙂

“Pippin, I’m writing a story about our adventures in Isengard, and I can’t seem to remember something.” Merry chewed on the end of his quill pen.

“Well, I’m here to help!” Pippin bit into an apple. “What do you need to know?”

“Was Legolas’s hair ‘long, lovely’ or was it ‘long lovely?” wondered Merry. “I think I need a comma between the two words.”

“And I was just about to say you didn’t,” Pippin sighed. “I don’t know which is correct.”

Merry looked forlornly down. How was he supposed to finish his story without knowing whether to use a comma or not? This was a grammar conundrum indeed. Luckily, Merry and Pippin, all you have to do is read this post, and you’ll find the answer to your question!

Let’s start by defining what an adjective is. An adjective is a word that describes a noun or pronoun. Black, seven, pretty, mad, cozy, soft, and hungry are all examples of adjectives. Now that we know what an adjective is, we can answer Merry and Pippin’s grammar question.

Legolas’s long, lovely hair is his pride and joy.

If you can interchange the adjectives and the sentence still makes sense, then you need a comma. For example, if you say Legolas’s lovely, long hair instead of long, lovely hair the sentence still makes sense. That means you need a comma between the two adjectives.

Tauriel is jealous of Legolas’s silky, shiny hair.

Another way of telling if you need a comma is to see if an “and” could be added between the two adjectives logically. It still makes sense if the wording is silky and shiny hair instead of silky, shiny hair. That means a comma is needed.

Legolas’s brown leather armor goes well with his hair.

There is no need to put a comma between brown and leather because you can’t exchange the adjectives or add an “and” and have the sentence still make sense. You wouldn’t say leather brown armor or leather and brown armor, so you wouldn’t need a comma.

Legolas’s sharp elven knives were a gift from Thranduil.

You cannot switch the adjectives here. Elven sharp knives just doesn’t make sense, so no comma is needed.

“I guess you were right, Merry. It does need a comma!” Pippin noted as Merry carefully wrote out the words “long” and “lovely” in the book, being sure to include a comma.

“I’m glad I know the difference now. I’d hate not to be able to finish my story. I’m going to call it How Two Hobbits Took Down Isengard and Plundered Isengard’s Salted Pork. I still think it’ll be better than Frodo’s story, The Lord of the Rings.”

“At least it will have correct comma usage!” Pippin said, leaving his friend to continue working on his story.

Merry and Pippin say thank you for reading! 🙂

~ Kayla

Grammar Rule – Commas in a List and Commas and Conjunctions

Are you ready to embark on a journey of many months that will leave you more grammatically knowledgeable? Of course you are! Over the next couple of months on my grammar rule posting days, I will be sharing the many and complicated rules of commas as I attempt to learn exactly what to do with these pesky little punctuation marks. With any luck our quest will be successful. May our journey through the land of commas begin!

Commas in a List:

Bill the Pony walked up the hill, trotted across the field, and ran through the gate into the Shire.

The first rule today is about commas in a list. The rule seems fairly straight forward: when you have three or more items in a list, you should use commas between the items to avoid confusion. While everyone can agree that there should be commas between the first two items, there is an all out war about the third comma, more properly called the Oxford comma. This little comma is a source of great strife among grammar lovers everywhere. Some want to remove this comma, while others want it to remain. What it all boils down to is that you can chose to use the Oxford comma or not to use the Oxford comma. However you chose to punctuate your lists is up to you, as long as you’re consistent in your usage. I personally use the Oxford comma, so my examples in this post will include the third comma. If you’d like to know a bit more about this war, here’s a great video from TEDEd which you can find here.

Thranduil, Tauriel, and Legolas are all elves from Mirkwood.

Now that the confusion over the Oxford comma is cleared up, we can continue on our little journey. In this example, there are three elves in this list, which means commas are needed between them to avoid confusion.

Kili and Fili are brothers.

In this sentence, there are only two dwarves in the list, so there is no need to add a comma.

Commas and Conjunctions:

Legolas fired at the orc with the bomb, but he missed.

The second rule is about commas and conjunctions. This rule is pretty straight forward as well: when there are two independent clauses joined together with a conjunction, a comma is needed before the conjunction. The hardest part about this rule is the terms. A conjunction is a word that joins two other words or clauses together. “And,” “but,” and “or” are all examples of conjunctions. An independent clause is a clause that has a subject and a verb and expresses a complete thought so it can stand on its own in the world of grammar.

You can tell if a clause is independent by reading the two clauses separately without the conjunction in the middle. “Legolas fired at the orc” is a full sentence. “He missed” is also a full sentence. So, in this case, there are two independent clauses, and there is a conjunction connecting them. Therefore, there needs to be a comma before the conjunction.

Legolas and Tauriel were not in The Hobbit book.

In this example, the conjunction “and” is not connecting two independent clauses. Neither “Legolas” nor “Tauriel” are full sentences by themselves, so no comma is needed between the two.

Smaug is fire, and he is also death.

Both “Smaug is fire” and “he is also death” have subjects and verbs and express complete thoughts. That means a comma is needed before the conjunction.

Here’s another great TEDEd video about commas and conjunctions, which you can find here.

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

Grammar Rule – Beside vs Besides: A Romantic Tale

In my grammar book’s units, there is always a lesson concerning those pesky little words that people tend to get confused. Now, I like being grammatically correct, but those are killers. Well, this unit’s words are “beside” and “besides.” Ugh. I still can’t remember the difference between the two. Not only are the words almost exactly alike, they also can be used as the same part of speech. I’m hoping by writing this short romantic tale, I’ll be able to help myself (and maybe a few of you) remember how to use these words correctly.

Disclaimer: Despite the content in this post, I absolutely do NOT approve of the Tauriel/Kili relationship. In fact, I hate the whole thing and cannot listen to their theme in the Desolation of Smaug soundtrack without disgust. However, since no one asked my opinion when they made the movie, I am forced to live with it. Besides, it makes for some interesting sentences. 🙂

At the Elven feast, Kili wanted to sit beside Tauriel.

Beside is all about location and means “next to” or “close to.” Since Kili wanted to sit next to Tauriel, you’d leave off the S.

Fili also wanted to sit beside Tauriel, but Kili discouraged him with a dirty look.

In this case, Fili wanted to sit next to Tauriel as well, so again you’d leave off the S.

Besides Kili and Fili, Legolas also wanted to claim the seat next to Tauriel.

“Besides” means “in addition to” or “apart from.” Since I’m saying  in addition to Kili and Fili, Legolas wanted to sit with Tauriel, the one with the S would be correct.

Legolas told Tauriel, “I cannot believe you would sit next to that dwarf. He smells horribly, his hair is unkempt, and besides, he is so short!”

Tauriel replied, “Well, at least he doesn’t spend hours and hours gazing at himself in front of the mirror! Besides, he’s quite tall for a dwarf.” 

“Besides” in this conversation is used as an adverb and means “furthermore.” This one is easy to identify because it’s set off by itself with a comma.

In the end, none of them sat beside Tauriel. She chose to sit next to Dwalin, because she liked bald men, or should I say, bald dwarves.

Here’s a link to a website that I found helpful writing this post. It even has a test down at the bottom for you to take to see if you really do know how to use beside/besides!

http://www.grammar-monster.com/easily_confused/beside_besides.htm

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

 

Grammar Rule – Literally vs Figuratively

Right now, all over the world, someone is using “literally” when they should be using “figuratively.” And I’m afraid that I am as guilty as the rest of the world. I’ve probably misused the word “literally” literally (and I mean it here!) hundreds of times. Well, today it’s time to put me (and maybe a few of you) on the straight and narrow path of correct word usage. 😉

The trolls were literally going to eat the dwarves.

The funny thing about literally is that it means just that. If something literally happened, it means that the thing actually happened. The trolls were actually going to eat the dwarves, so literally is the best choice.

Legolas’s haircut was so bad that I literally died.

Now, if you really, truly died when you saw Legolas’s haircut, then yes, you may use literally. However, since you are alive to tell everyone that you literally died, the correct word should have been figuratively. Remember literally means whatever you said actually happened, happened.

Smaug had such a gorgeous voice, I figuratively cried.

While you might have wanted to cry over Smaug’s awesome voice, if you didn’t actually have tears streaming down your cheeks, then you should use the word figuratively. I would like to point out that while this sentence is grammatically correct, it’s probably not what you’d normally say in real life which is why some dictionaries (like Merriam-Webster) have added a second definition of literally: “in effect; virtually.”

I’ve literally seen An Unexpected Journey a gazillion times.

Even though figuratively might be the best grammatical option in this sentence, it’s probably okay to say literally. Your friends would understand that you have just watched the movie lots of times. Just don’t blame me if a certain superhero shows up to restore the balance.

Balance Restored! Thanks to Studio C for the grammar rule idea. 😉

~ Kayla

 

 

 

An Interesting Word – Interrobang

It could have been called the emphaquest or exclaragotive or interrapoint. It, however, was named the interrobang. You ask, what is it? Well, read on to find out!

The interrobang is a punctuation mark. It’s a combination of a question mark and an exclamation point.  According to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, the “interro” part of the word comes from the first part of “interrogation.” The “bang” part comes from printer’s slang for an exclamation point. It looks like a question mark on top of an exclamation point (or an exclamation point on top of a question mark, depending on how you see it :)).

When would you use an interrobang? Well, it would be used at the end of an incredulous or rhetorical question, such as, “He did what?!”

It was first invented in 1962 by Martin Speckter. A 1967 Time magazine article said, “If the interabang gains the acceptance of grammarians, printers and writers, it will be the first punctuation symbol to enter the printed language since the introduction of the quotation mark during the late 17th century.” It lost popularity by the end of the ’60s, however, and fell into obscurity. Today, you can find it in some modern typefaces, such as Wingdings 2, although it’s still not considered proper punctuation. The gnaborretin (interrobang backwards) is an upside down interrobang and is the Spanish version of the symbol.

I found a fantastic video about the history of the interrobang. The girl in the video even sells interrobang necklaces if you like to wear punctuation!

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

Grammar Rule – It’s vs Its

(Note: There is no proof that this conversation is canonical, nor do I know if this grammar rule applies in the Shire. Also, I don’t own Merry or Pippin. They just volunteered for the skit. 😉 )

It was a fine day for a walk in the Shire, and Merry and Pippin were taking advantage of it.

Its a fine day for a walk, Merry,” said Pippin, while looking along the road for mushrooms.

“But Pippin, you’re wrong. Its not a fine day. It’s a fine day for a walk. You wouldn’t use its. At least, I don’t think you would.” said Merry, afraid his friend had made a horrible grammar mistake.

“That’s not what I remember learning,” protested Pippin. “I always use its.”

Well, this was certainly a dilemma, and one that neither Hobbit knew how to solve. Luckily, Merry and Pippin, all you have to do is read this post, and you’ll have the answer. 🙂

It’s a long walk to Mount Doom.

The best and easiest way to figure out which “its/it’s” to use is to remember that “it’s” is a contraction that means “it is” or “it has.” So, if you can replace the “its/it’s” in your sentence with “it is” or “it has” and have it still make sense, then you should use “it’s.”

It’s always been raining in Bree.

You can replace “it’s” in this sentence with “it has” and the sentence is still clear. So, in this case you would use “it’s.”

The map hung in its place on Bilbo’s wall.

If you replace “its” in this sentence with “it is” or “it has,” the sentence doesn’t make much sense. The “its” in this sentence is the possessive form of “it” and doesn’t use an apostrophe.

Sting earned its name in the forest of Mirkwood when Bilbo fought the spiders.

“It is” name or “it has” name doesn’t make any sense. Once again the possessive form of “its” is needed.

It’s a fine day for a walk in the Shire.

Sorry, Pippin. It looks like Merry was right. Since “it is” makes sense (It is a fine day for a walk), it’s the correct “its/it’s” to use.

“Well,” said Pippin, apologizing to Merry as they were walking back, “it looks like I was wrong. Its not a fine day for a walk. It’s a fine day for a walk. Now I know, and I don’t feel like such a fool of a Took!”

Hopefully this post has been as helpful to you as it has been to Pippin! Thanks for reading, and thanks to Merry and Pippin for their help! 🙂

~ Kayla

A Grammar Rule – Farther vs Further

Although that movie theater is further away from my house, it is nicer and will have the new Hobbit movie in HFR 3D. Or is it farther away from my house? I need to figure out this grammar rule quickly because The Desolation of Smaug is opening soon …

Have you ever had a serious grammar dilemma like this involving further and farther? If so, then read on and find out which one it’s supposed to be.

How much farther do we have to walk until we reach Erebor?

Who do you think walked farther – the Fellowship of the Ring or Thorin Oakenshield’s company?

Farther is used for a measurable physical distance, such as how far it is to walk to Erebor or Mount Doom. A good way to remember this is that the word used for physical distance has the word “far” in it.

If you are looking for someone who knows how to read moon runes, look no further than Lord Elrond himself.

Here, we’re not talking about a physical distance. We’re talking about a figurative, non-physical one. So for figurative distances, you should use further.

Upon further reflection, Bilbo remembered Gandalf, the wizard.

Also use further when meaning more or additional.

Wishing to further Frodo’s success, eight more members joined the Fellowship.

And finally, further can mean to help forward, advance, or promote a work, undertaking, or cause.

So to answer my original question about the movie theater, since I was talking about an actual physical distance, I would use farther in my sentence.

Hope this post cleared up some of the confusion surrounding these two words! Here are two articles that were helpful to me while writing this post:

http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/further-versus-farther

http://www.dailywritingtips.com/farther-vs-further/

~ Kayla

Grammar Rule – Affect vs Effect

When I’m faced with a sentence that needs the word “affect” or “effect,” I do my best to rewrite the sentence so I don’t have to figure out which is which! It’s just simpler to avoid them than try and figure out which one to use. Well, sometimes there’s no way out, no escape! I wrote this post to hopefully clear up the confusion. Maybe it will be helpful to you, too.

The One Ring was starting to affect Frodo’s mind.

Most of the time “affect” is a verb meaning “to influence.” In this case the One Ring is influencing Frodo’s mind, so “affect” is the word to use.

The radiation from the star affected the Enterprise’s engines, leaving the ship without warp drive.

In this sentence, the radiation was influencing the Enterprise’s engines, so you would use the verb, “affect.”

Due to the One Ring’s effect on the Fellowship, Frodo decided to travel to Mordor alone.

“Effect” as a noun means “result.” And we all know the evil results of the One Ring.

Because of the radiation’s effect on the engines, the Enterprise was stuck in the system for a day.

The engines malfunctioned due to the radiation, so, you would use the noun, “effect.”

The One Ring affected the Fellowship, and because of this effect, Frodo went to Mordor alone (with Sam).

The One Ring influenced the Fellowship in the beginning of the sentence. It’s being used as a verb, so you would use “affect.” The result of this influence is that Frodo went to Mordor alone (with Sam). Since it’s being used as a noun, you would use “effect.”

Hopefully this post affected the way you use “affect” and “effect,” and the effect is that there is less misuse of these words! 😉 This post only covers the more common uses for “effect” and “affect.” If you need to know the rare usages of these words, you can check out this link below:

http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/affect-versus-effect?page=1

~ Kayla