Posts Tagged: grammar

The Grammar of an Upworthy Headline

Here's a great piece by Michael Reid Roberts, up at the American Reader:

Upworthy Titles Often Make a Relatively Banal Claim. Until They Change It.

The most essential grammatical tic that Upworthy employs is a bit more complex than simple word choice or sentence structure: the titles introduce a fairly typical story, idea, or theme in the first sentence, then use a much shorter sentence to complicate or undermine it. This is irritating as hell. And I think that’s the point; the second sentence piques you to resolve the irritation it causes. A quick perusal of today’s Upworthy page shows sundry examples of this construction, which range from [...]


He She Not They

Who is they kidding?

No, I have just never really thought about it. What do you think?


T-Shirt Has Naughty Message and More, or Less

Nice one, Wet Seal! But is there a hidden message here? Is it possible for "your single" to be right in some context, a context hidden in the pattern of the letters? Could the apostrophe be "silent" i.e. invisible? Could there be a very modest 'E' somewhere there, under the armpit? We can dream.



Opening Lines of Notable Novels, Diagrammed

Can you diagram a sentence? I definitely cannot, and Madame DuMott, third grade grammar enforcer, would kill me if she knew. Pop Chart Lab went ahead and did the work for a collection of opening lines of notable novels, including Pride and Prejudice. They're nice to look at, even if sentence mapping isn't in your skill set:


Romance-Novel Sentence Diagrams


We Didn't Use to Say It Like This

From the Paris Review, a few examples from literature of "usen't to," the old contracted form of "used not to."

Arthur Wing Pinero, The Second Mrs. Tanqueray

“My face is covered with little shadows that usen’t to be there.”

Iris Murdoch, A Fairly Honourable Defeat

“They’ve got a sharper eye than we have for what’s rotten in this society.” “Young people have always had that. But it usen’t to affect their joie de vivre.”

All the examples, notably, are downers, as is fitting for this particular verb formulation. It's nice to know that there is something worse-sounding and worse-looking than "didn't use to," which does not exactly appeal. "Never used to," [...]


No Phone 4 U!

"The seven oldest children have cellphones, and text messages must contain proper grammar and spelling. No 'doen' or 'How r u?' or the kids lose their phones. The dads do spot-checks on the phones." —Just one of the very smart rules that a gay couple in Arizona has instituted to keep their 12 adopted kids in line. If only there was a way to make this a law for texters of all ages.