Archive for the ‘ Grammar Tricks ’ Category

Past Perfect Tense: Dear Sexy G,

Dear Sexy Grammarian,
I have a grammar question!! Would you say: I thought we finally realized or I thought we had finally realized? Does it matter?

Thank you for your continued dedication to grammar and sexiness,
Christine

Hi Christine! Thanks for writing. You’re talking about the difference between past perfect and past tense here. Depending on your meaning, either of your examples might be okay. You’re telling a story in this sentence that definitely happened in the past: I thought.

Now, whether to make the other verb in your sentence past tense (finally realized) or past perfect (had finally realized) depends on when you thought that final realization took place.

Past perfect describes a past that took place before the past tense. So, did you think you had finally realized at some time before you thought about finally realizing? Probably. In that case, you should write, I thought we had finally realized. But on the off chance that you thought you were realizing something at the same time you were thinking it, you might write, I thought we finally realized.

Yours,

The Sexy Grammarian

Frequently, a client or online fan shares a burning grammar question, and I always post answers here on the blog.  If you have a question, don’t hesitate to write to me. Looking for more attention? Get affordable, project-focused private sessions in person or via Skype or email.

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Role-Swapping: Subjects, Objects, and a Sexy Trick for Sentence Revision

What do you think of this sentence?

Kiki handed the handcuffs to Al.

When your action is hot, but the sentence is not, try looking at your nouns and their syntax, the roles they play in the sentence.

Kiki is the subject, which drives the action of the sentence.

Handcuffs is the direct object, which receives the action of the verb handed.

Al is the indirect object, which receives the direct object handcuffs.

We’ve got some awfully sexy nouns to work with here, so let’s experiment with role-swapping. That is, change the syntax. What happens when we put Al in the driver’s seat as the subject? What is Al doing?

Al accepted the handcuffs from Kiki.

That’s different at least, but I’m still not feeling it. What if the handcuffs become the subject? What are the handcuffs doing?

The handcuffs fell from Kiki‘s hands into Al‘s.

See how the hot action of the sentence just got a little hotter? By swapping the nouns until you find the sexiest possible syntax, you can build sexy sentences every time.

The Sexy Grammarian teaches writers to create tight, juicy, scantily clad sentences and combines sexually explicit examples with grammar instruction, but she never does it alone. Writing this post, she got extra help from the twitterverse, specifically @EditorMark  @JulieFrayn @GrammarROCKS, and @mededitor. Thanks, tweeps!

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Teasing Trevor: When To Use A Comma With Dependent Clauses

Do you know which of these sentences needs another comma?

A. I liked the angle of Trevor’s jaw so I winked at him.
B. He surprised me when he sustained eye contact and circled his lips with his tongue.
C. I wanted to chew on those lips which seemed so juicy and pink.

Examples A & C each need a comma added but for different reasons.

Both clauses in Example A could stand on their own as complete sentences. They are independent clauses, and you need a conjunction (in this case, so) and a comma if you want to stick them together.

I liked the angle of Trevor’s jaw.

I winked at him.

I liked the angle of Trevor’s jaw, so I winked at him.

Example C also contains two clauses.

1. I wanted to chew on those lips.

2. Seemed so juicy and pink.

But the second clause doesn’t work as a complete sentence, does it? Example C combines a dependent clause and an independent clause, and they need a comma between them.

I wanted to chew on those lips, which seemed so juicy and pink.

Example B also combines an independent clause and a dependent clause, but these two clauses don’t need a comma between them.

independent clause: He surprised me

dependent clause: when he sustained eye contact and circled his lips with his tongue.

complete sentence: He surprised me when he sustained eye contact and circled his lips with his tongue.

What’s the difference between Example B’s dependent clause and Example C’s dependent clause? Why does one need a comma and not the other?

B. He surprised me when he sustained eye contact and circled his lips with his tongue.
C. I wanted to chew on those lips, which seemed so juicy and pink.

In Example B, the dependent clause changes the meaning of the sentence. Trevor didn’t just surprise the narrator in general. Trevor surprised the narrator by sustaining eye contact and circling his lips with his tongue. This dependent clause is restrictive. It restricts the meaning of the sentence. With restrictive dependent clauses, you don’t need a comma.

By contrast, the dependent clause in Example C simply adds description. It’s nonrestrictive. Take it away, and the meaning of the sentence remains the same. The narrator wants to chew Trevor’s lips. And by the way–not that it changes things at all–those lips seem juicy and pink. With restrictive dependent clauses, you need a comma.

Here are a few more examples:

nonrestrictive dependent clause—needs commas: His eyes, when they sustained contact with mine, surprised me.

restrictive dependent clause—no comma needed: I wanted to chew on the parts of him that seemed juicy and pink.

nonrestrictive dependent clause—needs a comma: I touched Trevor’s knee, which got his attention.

restrictive dependent clause—no comma needed: Trevor’s knee wasn’t the part of him that I really wanted to touch.

At Sexy Grammar, we teach writers to create tight, juicy, scantily clad sentences, and we combine sexually explicit examples with grammar instruction. You can be a sexy writer, and we can teach you how.

Check out more Sexy Grammar lessons. Get a Private Session with the Sexy Grammarian.

When Nelly Caught Ginny: Phrases, Clauses, and Complete Sentences

Which of these sentences sounds complete to you?

A. Through the drawer of vibrators.
B. Ginny loved it.
C. Playing with other people’s toys.
D. Nelly didn’t mind.

Examples B & D are complete sentences. Examples A and C are fragment sentences. Do you know how to tell the difference?

A complete sentence needs two basic parts of speech: a noun (the subject) and a verb.

That’s why on its own, example A is just a fragment sentence. The drawer and the vibrators give you some nouns to work with, but you’ve got no verb–just a phrase. A phrase does not have both subject and verb. On it’s own, a phrase is just a fragment sentence. Below, it is a phrase in a complete sentence.

Ginny pawed through the drawer of vibrators.

As part of the complete sentence below, example C is a phrase too.

Ginny loved playing with other people’s toys.

Unlike phrases, clauses do have both a subject and a verb.

E. When Nelly caught Ginny.

F. Ginny looked so hot.

But just because a clause has both a subject and a verb doesn’t mean it can stand on its own as a complete sentence. Which of the clauses above do you think is a fragment sentence, and which is a complete sentence?

Example E doesn’t quite make sense on its own. We’re waiting to hear what happened when Nelly caught Ginny. The thought is incomplete, a sentence fragment. But as part of the complete sentence below, we call it a dependent clause.

When Nelly caught Ginny, she didn’t mind.

Example F stands on its own. It’s got a subject, Ginny, and a verb, looked, and the thought’s completed. It’s an independent clause, and it can be a complete sentence on its own.

Still, it’s okay to combine independent clauses with other clauses and phrases to make more interesting and complicated complete sentences.

Ginny looked so hot jerking off.

Ginny looked so hot with Nelly’s vibrator.

Ginny looked so hot that Nelly didn’t mind her playing with other people’s toys.

At Sexy Grammar, we teach writers to create tight, juicy, scantily clad sentences and stories that climax. We incite sexy, bold, free writers. And we combine sexually explicit examples with grammar instruction. You can be a sexy writer, and we can teach you how. We believe that sexy writing is clear, concise, and packed with the delicious, descriptive words that make us all love the art of writing.

Check out more Sexy Grammar lessons. Get a Private Session with the Sexy Grammarian.

Punctuating Side Comments: Comma, Em Dash, and Parentheses

You probably know you should set off parenthetical expressions with a comma, as in this example:

The dominatrix, a silver fox in a leather dress, kicked me and told me to beg for more.

But what about parentheses? It’s called a parenthetical expression after all! Can we set off the same parenthetical expression within parentheses? And what about dashes? What’s the difference?

Sure, you could go ahead and use parentheses or dashes in the example above. It would look like this:

The dominatrix–a silver fox in a leather dress–kicked me and told me to beg for more.

The dominatrix (a silver fox in a leather dress) kicked me and told me to beg for more.

But it wouldn’t be quite right. Commas, parentheses, and em dashes each have their particular meanings.

Use comma to set off a parenthetical expression that requires only a slight break, That is, the parenthetical expression flows well as part of the greater sentence, as in our original example.

The dominatrix, a silver fox in a leather dress, kicked me and told me to beg for more.

Use em dash to set off a parenthetical expression that requires a strong break because it amplifies or explains something or because it is sudden:

The dominatrix–indicating her dominance with a whip and spiked heels–kicked me and told me to beg for more.

Use parentheses to set off a parenthetical expression that requires a strong break and is not  as closely related to the rest of the sentence:

The dominatrix (we’d seen her here before dressed as a slave) kicked me and told me to beg for more.

You can use all of these punctuation marks to set apart parenthetical expressions in your writing. Ask yourself, does this expression flow with the rest of the sentence? (Use comma.) Does it add sudden amplification? (Use em dash.) Or is it not very closely related to the rest of the sentence? (Use parentheses.)

The Sexy Grammarian offers Free Sexy Grammar Lessons as well as Private Sessions, Custom Edits, and Intimate Workshops for all kinds of writers. Get a Free Private Session today and watch your writing project explode!

The Business of Side Talk: Comma, Em Dash, and Parentheses

You probably know you should set off parenthetical expressions with a comma, as in this example:

The order, 150 silicone dildos and 75 butt plugs, should be delivered before Valentine’s Day since our customers buy sex toys as gifts.

But what about parentheses? It’s called a parenthetical expression after all! Can we set off the same parenthetical expression within parentheses? And what about dashes? What’s the difference?

Sure, you could go ahead and use parentheses or em dash in the example above. It would look like this:

The order–150 silicone dildos and 75 butt plugs–should be delivered before Valentine’s Day since our customers buy sex toys as gifts.

The order (150 silicone dildos and 75 butt plugs) should be delivered before Valentine’s Day since our customers buy sex toys as gifts.

But it wouldn’t be quite right. Commas, parentheses, and em-dashes each have their particular meanings.

Use comma to set off a parenthetical expression that requires only a slight break. That is, the parenthetical expression flows well as part of the greater sentence, as in our original example.

The order, 150 silicone dildos and 75 butt plugs, should be delivered before Valentine’s Day since our customers buy sex toys as gifts.

Use em dash to set off a parenthetical expression that requires a strong break because it amplifies or explains something or because it is sudden:

The order–unless you want it to be our last order–should be delivered before Valentine’s Day since our customers buy sex toys as gifts.

Use parentheses to set off a parenthetical expression that requires a strong break and is not as closely related to the rest of the sentence:

The order (attached) should be delivered before Valentine’s Day since our customers buy sex toys as gifts.

You can use all of these punctuation marks to set apart parenthetical expressions in your writing. Ask yourself, does this expression flow with the rest of the sentence? (Use comma.) Does it add sudden amplification? (Use em dash.) Or is it not very closely related to the rest of the sentence? (Use parentheses.)

The Sexy Grammarian offers Free Sexy Grammar Lessons as well as Private Sessions, Custom Edits, and Intimate Workshops for all kinds of writers. Get a Free Private Session today and watch your writing project explode!

Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera: Dear Sexy G,

Dear Sexy Grammarian,

Since etc. closes a lot of sentences, it feels insufficient to just use one period, but using two, one for the abbreviation and one for the sentence, is awkward. What should I do?

Thanks,

Pablo

Dearest Pablo-
Just end the sentence with one period doing both jobs (terminating the sentence and the abbreviation). But I am curious about your choice to close a lot of sentences with the word etcetera in the first place. I think of etcetera as an overused and often poorly used word.

Etcetera can mean “and others” or “and so on.” So it’s useful when you have established the beginning of a list and don’t want to list everything. But we often use it out of laziness. Why don’t you want to give us the whole list? Is it really so long?

I believe in being as specific as possible in writing. When you reach for the abbreviation, etc., ask yourself, “What am I replacing here?” Sometimes you may be able to add just one more item to your list and avoid the abbreviation all together.

Another solution is to save etc. for bullet lists and use “and so forth” or “and so on” when you want to convey the same idea in running prose.

Yours,

The Sexy Grammarian

Frequently, a client or online fan shares a burning grammar question, and I always post answers here on the blog.  If you have a question, don’t hesitate to write to me. Looking for more attention? Get affordable, project-focused private sessions in person or via Skype or email.