For this month’s quiz we return to the grammar chapter—specifically, paragraphs 5.172–95, which cover prepositions. The main job of prepositions is to set up other words, an important job that usually goes unnoticed (except, maybe, at the end of a sentence).
If you work with words, you’re probably familiar with the related but supposedly antithetical concepts known as prescriptivism and descriptivism. And people take sides. Either you’re a stickler (you’re a prescriptivist) or you go with the flow (you’re a descriptivist).
Do you sometimes dither over whether to put a comma between two or more adjectives? Although the guidelines for deciding in CMOS work well for any kind of writing, there are times when creative writers prefer to ignore them.
This month we return to chapter 5, on grammar—specifically, paragraphs 5.156–71, which cover adverbs. Adverbs are not only amazingly versatile; they’re also incredibly useful. Find out how useful by taking this quiz.
Grammatically speaking, “appositive” is a fancy word for “equivalent.” For example, when we refer to your dog Smurf, “Smurf” and “your dog” are appositives—or the same thing (or animal, in this case) restated in different words.
In editing as in life, things tend to come in pairs. Life has its ups and downs, left and right, sea and land, victory and defeat. In editing you have capitals and lowercase, justified and ragged right, insert and delete.
Few people will accept that up means down simply because you say so in writing, not even if you’re perfectly consistent about it. Still, when it comes to editorial principles, consistency is second only to being right.
In manuscripts of yore (centuries ago), the text would appear in one huge unbroken block. At some point breaks in thought or theme came to be indicated in the line of text with marks of various kinds, which in late medieval times included a pilcrow (¶), essentially the same symbol your word processor hides at the end of a paragraph in your documents today.
There are a few simple conventions for presenting thoughts in fiction, and these overlap with the conventions for setting off dialogue and other quoted speech or text—or anything that might normally take quotation marks.
Ready for more action? This month’s workout, “Verbs, Part 2,” focuses on paragraphs 5.117–43 of CMOS 17, which cover mood, tense, number, and other useful concepts.