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Archive for the tag “adverbs”

A to Z Challenge, 2014: Freshly Squeezed Adverbs

Oh Heck! Another Quirky Writing Error

I recently went to a street fair in Summerville, South Carolina, and amused myself by taking pictures of people and signs.

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I was a bit hungry and drooled over the deep-fried Oreos, the deep-fried mushrooms, and the hand-dipped corn dogs, but I resisted their high-calorie goodness. (Note the correct hyphen use on these popular street-fair snacks. I wrote about hyphens in “Deep-Fried Hyphens.”)

Street fair snacks: hand-dipped fried mushrooms, hand-dipped corn dogs, among other things.

Street-fair snacks: hand-dipped fried mushrooms and hand-dipped corn dogs, among other things.

I considered having a cool drink to quench my thirst.  I checked the signs and found that I could have

Fresh Squeezed Lemonade

Fresh Squeezed Lemonade

 

Freshly Squeezed Lemonade

Freshly Squeezed Lemonade

Fresh Brewed Iced Tea or Fresh Squeezed Lemonade

Fresh Brewed Iced Tea or Fresh Squeezed Lemonade

Hmmm. It got me wondering about hyphen use again. Which of these drinks is listed correctly? Should it be fresh squeezed lemonade or should it be freshly squeezed lemonade? And do either of these need a hyphen? The answers to these questions have to do with adjectives and adverbs.

Adjectives modify or describe nouns. Multiple-word descriptors before a noun require a hyphen to clarify meaning.

deep-fried Oreos
deep-fried mushrooms
deep-fried artichokes
hand-dipped corndogs

Adverbs with -ly endings modify verbs and do not get hyphens.

But now, here come the adverbs. Adverbs do not follow the same add-a-hyphen rule, primarily because the adverb makes the meaning of the phrase clear without any help from a hyphen, thank you very much.

  • Freshly squeezed orange juice.

The juice has recently been squeezed from the oranges. Freshly modifies squeezed (past participle), telling us when the juice was squeezed.

But wait, in this next example, fresh modifies orange juice, a noun, making its use okay as well.

  • Fresh, squeezed orange juice.

In this case, fresh modifies orange juice (fresh orange juice) making its use without a hyphen okay. It is fresh juice, and it is squeezed juice. A comma makes it clearer.

Here are examples of -ly adverbs correctly written without a hyphen.

**  recently discovered secret
**  freshly baked bread
**  freshly brewed tea
**  freshly pieced quilts
**  newly discovered ores
**  freshly picked veggies
**  brightly lit sign
**  highly paid officer

Now, just to confuse things, you use hyphens with some adverbs, (much-deserved vacation, well-known author), but I’ll write more about this in another post.

If you want to read more about orange juice, you can read this article: Freshly Squeezed: The Truth about Orange Juice in Boxes.

And you might want to try this recipe for Fresh Squeezed Lemonade.

Space invaders would probably get all of these hyphens mixed up, but wait, they can try the Alien Sippers: fresh lemonade that happens to be from squeezed lemons.

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But who worries about hyphens on a hot day at a street fair while drinking cool lemonade or orange juice. Well, me. Obviously.

Your turn: What quirky errors do you find in writing? Which ones annoy you the most?

**
Janice Hall Heck is a retired educator, blogger, wannabe photographer, and now nitpicky editor of On the Horizon, a bi-monthly community newsletter for Horizons at Woods Landing, Mays Landing, NJ.

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Don’t Use Adverbs? Book Reviewers Use Them!

Adverbs have been thoroughly trashed in the writer’s world. Read more about that here: Who Murdered Those Poor, Pitiful Adverbs?

Even so, adverbs remain a handy tool in the writer’s toolbox. Adverbs modify (add meaning) to verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. “At their best, adverbs spice up a verb or an adjective. At their worst, they express a meaning already contained in [the verb].” Roy Peter Clark, Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer

Look carefully, and you will find those ostracized adverbs being featured prominently in book review blurbs. Check these out:

“Wickedly funny, deviously twisted and enormously satisfying. This is a big juicy bite of zombie goodness. Two decaying thumbs up!”
Jonathan Maberry on Kevin J. Anderson’s, Death Warmed Over: Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I.001 (22)

“Rather than rest on her laurels, Grafton does the exact opposite, and U is for Undertow is her most structurally complex, psychologically potent book to date.”
Los Angeles Times Book Review included on flyleaf of Sue Grafton’s, V is for Vengeance

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“A slice of American history beautifully told by three young Americans coming of age in a turbulent time.”
Jodi Thomas, New York Times best-selling author on Jan Morrill’s, The Red Kimono

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“Move over, grumpy schoolmarms everywhere. Your time has come. For the writer or wannabe, Sin and Syntax is urgently needed, updated, and hip guide to modern language and writing.”
Jon Katz, media critic and author of Running to the Mountain, on Constance Hale’s, Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose.

001 (27)

“It’s a miracle, a daybreak, a man on the moon . . . so impeccably imagined, so courageously executed, so everlastingly moving.”
Baltimore Sun on Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close: A Novel

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And finally, there’s this:

Adverbs by Daniel Handler

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No, this book is not about adverbs; it’s actually an unusual love story, and let’s even say, a very unusual love story. Every chapter boasts it own adverb title: Immediately, Obviously, Arguably, Particularly, Briefly, Soundly, Frigidly, Collectively, and so on for nine more adverb-laden chapter titles. Here’s one review blurb:

“Gymnastic prose . . . brilliantly turned reminders that there are a million ways to describe love and none of them will be the last word.”
New York Times
Book Review

The Last Meow: A Cat-A-Log of Advice for Writers

So book reviewers use a lot of adverbs. Okay. Just don’t copy their style for lengthier pieces of writing. Follow the sound advice given by professional writers:

1. Use strong nouns and verbs in your writing. Don’t rely on weak adverbs to rev up common everyday verbs.

…the hackneyed result [of using weak verbs and weak adverbs] is immediately apparent.
Noah Lukeman, The First Five Pages: A Writer’s Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile

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2. Use distinctive, fresh, surprising adverbs, and your writing will shine. Here are a few examples from The New Yorker:

001 (28)maddeningly inaccessible… (Tribeca Cinemas in NYC)
Silvia Killingsworth, “Takes for Two,” The New Yorker, April 1, 2013

..the large color pictures are…gritty, intimate, and bracingly authentic (Polaroids by Mike Brodie)
Chelsea Gallery, The New Yorker, April 1, 2003

…an outlandishly sensual red-vinyl church interior by Rodney McMillian
ART, Museums and Libraries, Whitney Museum of American Art, The New Yorker, April 1, 2013

mercilessly critical…
Marc Fisher, “The Master,” The New Yorker, April 1, 2013

Perhaps book reviews use too many adverbs, but adverbs can be a writer’s friend if used wisely, surprisingly, and judiciously.

And now it’s nap time. All this teaching tires me out.

Meow for Now. =<^;^>=

Pic by Haryo Bagus Handako

Pic by Haryo Bagus Handako

Who Murdered Those Poor, Pitiful Adverbs?

Woohoo. There’s quite a bit of mud-slinging going on over yonder about adverbs, of all things.

crime scene-blog

What with being called all kinds of dubious, diminishing, and insulting names on Internet, like “ad-thingies,” “the red-headed stepchild of modern grammarians,” and “weasel words,” it’s a wonder adverbs don’t have an inferiority complex. Oh, wait, in fact they do exhibit previously undiagnosed, partly paranoid tendencies, probably because their feelings get hurt so frequently.

Not only do Internet writers negatively brand these mild-mannered modifiers with negative descriptors, but notorious well-known writers label them with such loaded nomenclature as “flabby words” (Hale)  “stinkers” (Casagrande), and a “ragbag of hedges” (Kilgarriff). They have been called monsters and beasties, too.

Others fling disparaging remarks like flaming firecrackers tossed by taunting teenagers. Not only are adverbs “useless,” but they are “truly useless,” and “redundant.” Gordon calls them “yawningly predictable,” and Zinsser calls them “unnecessary.”

Adverbs are “crashers in the syntax house party” and “trash words” (Hale), “the dustbin” of English grammatical categories (Crystal), “the old worn-out clasp which holds words together” (Folejewski, quoted in Nordquist), “the poor stepchild” and the “Rodney Dangerfield of the parts of speech” (Nordquist).

Adverbs have even been called promiscuous because they have multiple partners: verbs, other adverbs, adjectives, and whole sentences. (Hale).

Mark Twain hated them and called them a plague. Stephen King hated them and jumped feet-first into the fracas ranting that “the road to hell is paved with adverbs.” Adverbs, he says, are like dandelions that totally, completely, and profligately cover his lawn.

(These guys are a bit melodramatic, don’t you think? Besides that, these frequently repeated quotes are becoming trite and clichéd. Enough already.)

And it doesn’t stop there either. People who innocently use adverbs reap heaps of disparaging labels: “linguistic dwarfs” use adverbs because they can’t quite connect with stronger verbs (Kilgarriff); “weak minds” use adverbs because they are lazy; (Outbreak movie); “timid,” “cautious,” and “fearful” writers use adverbs because, well, they are timid, cautious, and fearful (King).

Indeed, some published “immature” writers have been castigated for using weak verbs and redundant adverbs in their money-gushing published novels. Of course, these writers have no worries about such criticism; they are busy counting the mega moolah that arrives by railroad cars at their multi-million dollar mansions. They sip their martinis shaken, not stirred, on the veranda by the pool, thumbing their noses at those snobby don’t-use-adverbs critics.

I mean, if you were J. K. Rowling, wouldn’t you have the pompous and malicious Dunsley family (the miserly stepparents in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) describe themselves as “perfectly normal.” Fits, doesn’t it. Come on, where’s your spirit of fun?

Grammar snobs point fingers at grammar slobs. From their lofty position on their judgment thrones, they pick out the puny prattlings of printless peons beneath them. Sometimes the grammar snobs point fingers at each other, ranting on opposite points of view on the same topic.

Criticizing adverb use is akin to criticizing Strunk & White; it’s the popular thing to do. Both are juicy targets, ripe for criticism. S & W give simplistic advice (avoid the use of qualifiers…), and adverbs can be simple and trite.

Whoa now…. Let’s just stop and take a breath. With all this maelstrom of adverb criticism, do writers even dare to use them?

True. Writers do misuse adverbs, especially the –ly brand and those linked to “said”, but is that any reason to banish all adverbs to Stephen King’s fiery furnace? Why all the melodramatic fire and brimstone? Why all this bullying of adverbs?

Adverbs can be badly, awkwardly, redundantly, and even outrageously used by writers, but possibly, just possibly, could adverbs have any good qualities?  Must they always be demoted to being the poor, pitiful underdogs in the linguistic world?

Critics focus on the minor crimes of adverb abusers and ignore the benefits that well-behaved adverbs freely and willingly offer to the world. Adverbs have a proper place in writing; in fact, we can’t do without them.

Why should writers care about adverbs?

Adverbs affect writing style, yes, for better or for worse and happily ever after. Selective use of adverbs creates well-crafted writing while indiscriminate use creates tedious, clichéd writing. Adverbs can bring subtle distinctions as well as major, dramatic distinctions. And besides that, clever use of adverbs makes me chuckle.

You have heard the quote “familiarity breeds contempt”; well, that’s what’s happened to adverbs. These words have become the plain-vanilla-ice-cream-cone-every-day-after-school treat. Repetitious. Monotonous. Boring. And yes, Ms. Gordon, yawningly predictable.

But make that an apple-blueberry-peach, honey nut Cheerios ice cream sundae with Heathbar–crunch-topping adverb, and you 001 (18)have a different story.

“Adverbs add character, sizzle, and fizz to your phrase or your sentence, whatever it is!” Brian P. Cleary, Clearly, Dearly, Nearly, Insincerely: What Is an Adverb?

Brian Cleary may write children’s books, but he’s right about adverbs.

What is an adverb anyway?

Adverbs are a category of words (a part of speech) that can change (qualify, limit, describe, modify, intensify, minimize) the meaning of verbs, other adverbs, adjectives, phrases, and clauses.

I know. You learned that in third grade. But think about this: Anything that has the power to change something else has….power. Take hold of that power and use it wisely.

Take a gander at the following Zombie treats dissected from Kevin J. Anderson’s, Death Warmed Over, and slobber over the adverbs he uses.

1. Adverbs modify verbs

Most humans are morbidly fascinated by the dark side of the city.

Streetlights flickered ominously in an electric rhythm sure to trigger epileptic seizures…

2. Adverbs modify other adverbs

“Amazing what morticians can do these days, but I’m still only fit for the scratch-and-dent sale.” I tapped my brow, feeling the putty that Bruno had so skillfully applied.

3. Adverbs modify adjectives

The mummy spoke in a crisp Bristish accent, “So sorry I’m late. My sundial is notoriously unreliable on cloudy days.”

We assert that all spells published by Howard Phillips are completely harmless. Although Ms. Wannovich’s situation is unquestionably tragic, our good company bears no blame for the aforementioned misfortune.

4. Adverbs modify clauses

I had been inside the factory before—illicitly—while investigating the garlic-laced shampoo lawsuit.

To tell the truth, I never liked Zombie stories before I read Anderson’s Death Warmed Over. It is the perfect type of writing for tongue-in-cheek use of adverbs.

As Mark Twain once famously said about himself, “Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated,”  reports of the death of adverbs are also greatly exaggerated.

Use adverbs, but use them wisely. Crime scene closed.

References:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/feb/24/elmore-leonard-rules-for-writers/print
http://www.macmillandictionaryblog.com/new-years-resolution-no-adverbs (Kilgarriff)http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/03/13/stephen-king-on-adverbs/
http://grammar.about.com/od/basicsentencegrammar/a/adverbquotes.htm (Nordquist)http://www.macmillandictionaryblog.com/why-pick-on-adverbs (Rundell)http://chronicle.com/blogs/linguafranca/2013/02/20/being-an-adverb/ (Pullum)

Casagrande, June. Grammar Snobs are Great Big Meanies: A Guide to Language for Fun & Spite.
Clark, Roy Peter. Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer.
Gordon, Karen Elizabeth. The Deluxe Transitive Vampire: The Ultimate Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed.
Hale, Constance. Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose.
Zinsser, William. On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction, Sixth Edition.

The Last Meow

I clearly, dearly, and sincerely approve this post. Now may I go back to my nap?cat sleeping - academic

Meow for now. =<^;^>=

Saturday Sampling: Meandering through the Blogosphere

As I meander through the blogosphere, I copy and paste blog post titles that appeal to me into a blank post. At the end of the week, I sort through these titles and choose my favorites. Here is this week’s sampling.

Books:

Anita Ferreri at the Nerdy Book Club, Retro Review: Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne

Anita Ferreri, literary specialist in Winchester County, NY, reminds us of the excellent qualities in the Winnie-the-Pooh books.

Milne’s books are classics that teachers can read to children in the early grades. His lovable characters (Christopher Robin, Pooh, Tigger, Owl, and Eeyore) express wisdom that stays long in the hearts and minds of children and adults.

Grammar:

Sharifah Z. Williams, Dems da Rules: Adverbs

Williams, writer and and self-proclaimed word-eater, reminds us that unneeded adverbs, the “most sinister of writing faux pas,” don’t necessarily interfere with a good story line. In fact, if you are engrossed in the story, you will not notice the adverbs. Still, it is wise for good writers to use adverbs with care.

Spelling

Judythe Morgan, Spellcheckers and Pullet Surprise Work

Judythe Morgan reminds us that our spelling system is not perfect by quoting a 1992 poem by Dr. Jerrold H. Zar. Our spellcheckers are not perfect either; they do not check for context when doing their thing. Here’s a clip to prove the point.

I have a spelling checker,
It came with my PC.
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss steaks aye can knot sea.

Hashtags

Tom Whitby, How Does #Edchat Connect Educators?

The #edchat hashtag connects teachers for Twitter chats on Tuesdays at noon and 7 p.m. each week. Interested Tweeters carry on a running conversation on pre-selected education topics. What a neat way to keep up with changes and trends in education.

I have used the #edchat hashtag on Twitter a number of times to pass on articles/posts worthy of an educator’s notice. This post tells more about this useful tag and how it came to be.

Health:

Michael King, A Cancer Story: Thoughts of Death

Cancer has hit my family hard, and it may have hit yours, too. The emotional impact of this horrible disease is deep but not always talked about openly. Michael King shares his physical and emotional pain in dealing with his own cancer. This is a good blog for cancer fighters and cancer care-givers to follow. Michael is fighting back at cancer by writing about it. My family fights back through Relay for Life.

Recipes:

Anderson Cooper, 7 Recipes for $7 (Charles Mattacks, The Poor Chef)

I love food blogs so I follow a number of them and look for recipes to try out. This post features Charles Mattacks (The Poor Chef) who shares recipes that cost about $7.00 each. I am going to try out this featured “Granny’s Chicken Curry” sometime soon.

Cats:

And now…*drum roll*… two cat posts for the week. You didn’t think I would skip the cats, did you?

Derek Perry, On the Subject of Cats and Poets, at WORD SALAD: Stories from the Savage Pen. Cat owners will love this post! Nuff said.

B.F. Kazmarski, The Creative Cat, Daily Sketch: On The Edge. Check this site for a delightful charcoal pencil sketch of Mimi and Jelly Bean.

YOUR TURN:

What was your favorite post this week?

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