Grammar Police

I admit, the math section of the SATs was easier for me than the reading section, which is probably why I became an engineer. Despite that, I still really enjoy Weird Al's Word Crimes:

In keeping in theme with my recent post discussing what I've learned in my first year of self-publishing, I thought I'd mention a few grammar confusions I needed to work through:


Apparently I've been using the word "since" incorrectly my entire life. Case in point:

Since I'm here, I may as well have some french fries.

I should be using it like Kelly Clarkson:

Since you been gone, I can breathe for the first time.

Granted, "since you been gone" isn't the best grammatical example, but hey.

"Since" references a period of time. I've been waiting here since nine o'clock. Or, Since learning that I use "since" incorrectly, I need to sing that Kelly Clarkson song to remember how to use it.


Aaargh. Quick quiz - which is correct:

Cut the wire which is red

Cut the wire that is red

There's a better explanation detailing restrictive clauses, but I find it's easiest to replace the word "which" with "which happens to be". If the sentence still makes sense and has the same meaning, you're good.

Cut the wire, which happens to be red.  It doesn't really matter that it's red. Just pointing that out for people who like the color red. Pretty!

Cut the wire that is red. There's also a black wire. Please don't cut the black...oh my God, you're not even listening to me! Give me those wire cutters!

Feeling Possessive

Sure, it's been several hundred years since I went to elementary school and my memory may be a little foggy, but I distinctly remember the rule to use an apostrophe s unless the word already ended in s, in which case just use an apostrophe.  Granted, that was back in Arthurian days when we spelled town with an e. 

It seems I'm supposed to use an apostrophe s for singular nouns (regardless of their ending letter) and apostrophe for plural nouns that end in s.  Actually, if you Google it you'll find the Internet's definitive opinion on the matter is:

  1. Apostrophe s for singular nouns; apostrophe for plurals ending in s
  2. Apostrophe s for nouns that don't end in s; apostrophe for words that do
  3. Apostrophe s if you speak the s; apostrophe if you don't
  4. These can't all be true, but it doesn't matter, just be consistent
  5. Why do we even have language at all. Let's just grunt and point.
  6. Hey, there's a new Cinemasins videos. Wait, what was I Googling again?

Anyway, in my stories you'll see:


and not


That is, unless a Riggs malfunction creates an army of duplicate James, and they all collectively own something.

As an aside, why English has chosen the possessive form of "it" to be "its" is mind boggling. More accurately, it's mind boggling. I realize that "it's" has been claimed as the contraction for "it is", but there's no reason you can't contract "to be" onto any noun, as in "Hey, Bob, cat's gone missing again" or "That grammar rule's silly."

Okay, that's enough pearls for today. Back to writing.