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Personal Shifts

Sadly, this is my last post for Say What? I’ve run this section on Live Write Thrive for four years now, and next year will see a new Friday feature. All 208 or so posts are compiled in the second edition of Say What? The Fiction Writer’s Handy Guide to Grammar, Punctuation, and Word Usage. Be sure to get a copy here!

To celebrate this final post, if you buy the print copy between now and the New Year, you will get the ebook copy for free. I hope my grammar tips have helped you (and continue to help you) become a better writer.

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When You’re (Missing) a Word in a Comparison

Writers sometimes leave out small necessary words when making comparisons. Sometimes sentences look just fine to our eyes at first glance, but a deeper examination reveals a problem.

Take a look at these sentences and see if they seem structurally correct to you:

  • Tech employees fear layoffs less than bus drivers.
  • The district attorney considers those vigilantes more dangerous than the criminals.
  • This book deals more with the mysteries of the universe than the laws of physics.
  • Our profits were higher this year than 2014.
  • The US imports more oil from the Middle East than Mexico.

Can you think of what words are missing from those sentences? Sometimes you need to put in a verb or preposition to make the sentence structurally correct. Continue Reading…

More or Less

Who would imagine a little word like less could be less than simple to use correctly?

As an adjective, less can be used before a singular noun only:

  • I would like less cream in my coffee.

But lesser (not as great in quantity, size, or value) is used before a plural noun:

  • Lesser men have attempted that climb.

You can be given “a lesser” job (which does not mean “smaller”), but you can’t use the article a with less.

  • He was given less responsibility.

However, if less is used as an adverb, you can use a:

  • She has a less prominent position than before.

Continue Reading…

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