There are certain grammar errors that are like chalk screeching on a blackboard to me. I cringe when I hear them, and it’s all thanks to Peggy Riley Hughes. Mrs. Hughes was my seventh and eighth grade English teacher, a veritable martinet who literally beat grammar into us by smacking a yardstick on her blackboard to drive home every point. Her blackboards were covered in dings and chips. Rumor had it she actually broke a few blackboards over the years, but I can’t confirm that since I never personally experienced any slate crashing to the floor while sitting in her classroom.
Today Mrs. Hughes would probably be hauled up in front of the school board for some of her less-than-PC teaching tactics. However, we did leave her classroom with a knowledge of grammar that far surpasses anything being taught in most schools today—if it’s being taught at all.
My biggest pet grammar peeve, thanks to Mrs. Hughes, is whenever I hear someone say, “for (insert name of person) and I.” I hear this misuse of grammar everywhere, and I read it constantly in novels. Ivy League educated doctors, lawyers, and high-ranking politicians (including our president) are guilty of this grammatical error.
For some reason people think they sound more educated when they use “I” instead of “me.” However, prepositional phrases are objective case, and “I” is a nominative pronoun. You can’t mix the two. A prepositional phrase must use an objective pronoun. It’s never correct to use “I” in a prepositional phrase. The correct form is, “for (insert name of person) and me.” Think about it, you wouldn’t say, “The cake is for I,” would you? No, you’d say, “The cake is for me.” So why would you say, “The cake is for Jenny and I?”
However, authors do have license to take certain liberties with their writing. When I write dialogue, I don’t necessarily write in perfectly formed sentences. People don’t always speak in perfectly formed sentences. We often speak in sentence fragments. Style sometimes dictates that sentence fragments also be used in narrative. In addition, our characters, depending on who they are, might not speak using perfect grammar. They, too, never took an English class taught by Peggy Riley Hughes. And that’s okay. We want our characters to sound real, not stilted.
However, grammar rules should only be broken for a good reason. Therefore, if English class is a distant memory, or you never had your own Peggy Riley Hughes, a grammar book should be part of your writer’s toolbox.
And with apologies to Mrs. Hughes, who would launch into a rant at a sentence ending in a preposition, my latest Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery is A Stitch to Die For. In my defense, though, I don’t remember being taught that I couldn’t have a title end with a preposition.
Anyway, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. ;-D
USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and non-fiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry. Visit Lois/Emma at their website and Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog. Follow everyone on Tsu, on Pinterest, and on Twitter @anasleuth. Sign up for her newsletter here.
A Stitch to Die For
An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 5
The adventures of reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack continue in A Stitch to Die For, the 5th book in the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series by USA Today bestselling author Lois Winston.
Ever since her husband died and left her in debt equal to the gross national product of Uzbekistan, magazine crafts editor and reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack has stumbled across one dead body after another—but always in work-related settings. When a killer targets the elderly nasty neighbor who lives across the street from her, murder strikes too close to home. Couple that with a series of unsettling events days before Halloween, and Anastasia begins to wonder if someone is sending her a deadly message.
(Other books in the series include Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, Death by Killer Mop Doll, Revenge of the Crafty Corpse, and three mini-mysteries: Crewel Intentions, Mosaic Mayhem, and Patchwork Peril.)