Category Archives: Writing

How to Become a Successful Ghost Writer?

Ghost writing, it may have brought strange things to your mind, the word “ghost”, why? Well, it’s not that strange. It’s a type of writing that gets published under the name of not-the-actual author; ghost writer’s job is to write for someone else, the decent amount he’s paid in return is usually enough to motivate him continue working that way. Among many other things a ghost author learns through his career, one’s to prefer the decent amount he could earn being under cover over the fame and recognition his work could bring him had it been published with his name.

Now that you know what ghost writing is, the list of questions and confusions should have reduced but the truth is it has given way to even more confusions. Why the hell would someone commit himself to writing a book whose credit would be taken by someone else? These ghost writers must be bunch of stupids not aware of the importance of the things. Why would he let someone else take the credit of his work and enjoy the fame and recognition which is his right? Why would he do that? What makes ghost writing so much fun?

Imagine, a renowned author himself contacts you and since he is too busy finishing one of his nonfiction works, asks your services for he has to meet the demand of his fans and publish his fiction by the end of the 5th month from now. 3/4th of it’s already done by him; you are being hired for the remaining 1/4th. Would you have enjoyed such an experience of learning and working with such a renowned author while working on your own work?

I started my career of writing as a technical article writer and my favorite topics were those related to Science and Engineering, I know from my experience that until the day I started working as a ghost writer, I was confined, confined to the topics of my interest, hesitant to make research on something I did not have a chance to explore before. Now that I am a professional ghost writer, no area is what I used to call “That’s not my area”; while writing on topics related to Business, Economics and Management, I sometimes think like this must not be real me, I really like the way I just jump in and get on with it. With the earnings you are going to make from such a project, the feeling of triumph that accompanies the completion and the prospect of being published are two such things that keep you motivated to continue working this way.

Once the writing’s done, your part’s done; from here onwards, promotion campaigns, tours, talk shows and signings, all that are your client’s headache, saving you a lot of money, effort and time. The time saved this way is one of the reasons part-time working professional ghost writers earn more than full-time working freelancers; had the book been published with your name, 2nd half of the year would have been passed in promotion of the book.

It might be hard to see advertisement boards advertising a bestseller with the not-actual-author-of-the-book’s face beaming right beside the picture of the title, but then nothing comes without cost.

For those who have made their choice and are eager to know more about the subject, the remaining article’s going to discuss, in short, things-to-do to make yourself a successful ghost writer.

1. A professional ghost writer understands very well where he stands in the whole project. While writing the book for someone else, you should have the guts of setting aside those of your ideas that are not liked by your client. Do as the client says, you may be writing words, but since the book would be published under your client’s name, his would be the final say.

2. While you would be conducting your research on the topic and learning through several different sources, it would be your responsibility as well, to keep your client up-to-date and make sure that whatever’s being done is being done with his consent.

3. You are writing for someone who’s going to take the whole credit for it, make sure that the tone and style you adopt while writing is appropriate for the kind of man he is.

4. While it takes some time for a beginner to break in and create his name among the pool of prospective clients, here are few tips that may help you get your first job in no time.

  • Search for the freelance article writing jobs at online platforms like Elance.com, Freelancer.com, Odesk.com, there are many others. Create your profile on one of these sites and let your potential clients know your qualifications, your experience as an article writer and your expertise.

Pump up your online portfolio and showcase there the best of your work; your portfolio reflects your experience of the work and could alone become the reason of your selection.

  • One another way to let your potential clients know that you are a ghost writer could be to create a blog or a website of your own and make sure that it specifies you as a ghost writer.

5. Before you start working on the project, make sure that you are well aware of certain things. Here goes the list of those things:

  • What are the client’s expectations from you? How would you get paid, and when would you get paid? Make sure that both of you, you and your client agree to the terms set by each other.
  • How the information required will be provided to you? Through interviews? Through written notes?
  • What’s your part exactly? Would you be sharing some of the workload with your client? How would you be submitting your work? One way could be to write one chapter at a time and submit it for review.
  • What if the client’s providing an unoriginal content for his work, who would be responsible if you get caught plagiarizing?
  • Are you really working as a ghost writer? A co-author would get a cover credit while a ghost writer wouldn’t.

Once all these things get settled between you and your client, you would need to prepare a written agreement mentioning all the terms you have agreed upon, make sure that this document gets signed by both you and your client.

Considering yourself well equipped now that the job’s officially awarded to you, without wasting any time, you would create an outline for your writing and submit it for the approval to your client. Once it gets approved, you would start making your research over the topic and writing the first draft of the first submission.

Since you would be requiring the client’s advice at every step and after all it’s not something you could ignore while working on the project he has hired you for, it is recommended that you submit the work in parts. How many parts? Well, that depends on the type of the work and how much of the workload’s being shared by your client himself.

Learn from the edits and changes your client makes to your submissions before sending them back to you, you can use Microsoft Word’s Track Changes function to let yourself keep track of the edits made. To seek the client’s suggestion about a specific paragraph or a sub topic, you would need to draw his attention to that part, one way could be to use an abbreviation like TK, the editor would be able to find that part by using Microsoft Word’s Find function, another way could be to change that part’s font color.

Writing for someone else is something, making it sound like it’s written by him requires much of an effort and skill. To capture the voice of your client would require you to have a good relationship with your client through all the time. Prefer talking with your client on phone or Skype over the correspondence through text messages or emails. This way, you could learn more about your client’s style and his way of taking things.

How to Earn Extra Money Writing Reviews

This is another lucrative and interesting online job opportunity that can be pursued online. As a review writer, you can be permanently attached to a single or several firms or sell your services as, a freelance review writer – the field is wide open. First job may take some time to come but once people find your writing effective and laving an impact on the audience that it is meant to lure, you will get many more reviews to write.

You can specialise in review writing if you want, in fact people do better when they specialise in a niche or two rather than trying to be everywhere. Because when you are in a particular niche you read a lot more in the niche and your knowledge makes you an expert in the subject and in the industry, something which is bound to reflect in the quality and depth of your reviews. How much ever can one not write a review but the targeted costumer somehow almost always knows how to pick a well written review from a bad or mediocre one.

There are all kinds of reviewers on the net. Some people review books, some movies, while some review electronic gadgets, some review restaurants, some review home appliances, some review daily needs and grocery products and so on. You can choose to go with the one that you like and is available in ample to keep a regular income coming.

To work as review writer first thing you need is the liking and style for writing; access to internet, and a laptop or a computer. You will also be required to learn the knack of writing reviews so that you can improve in your craft and earn decent money for yourselves.

Your reviews should be able to convey the right message, should be easy and interesting to read, if you can inject some humour when required it will add value to reader’s perception. The biggest of all qualities that you require is you should learn to understand the psyche of your targeted costumer. What he wants to read; what will trigger his interest; and based on these inputs you should create a review, then it is bound to touch him.

The gist is, don’t write for yourself or for the sake of displaying your talent with words; instead focus on what the customer wants to read. When it comes to editing your own post, don’t think twice. If one sentence can win you a client don’t dissolve the effect by adding another. That’s the magic a good copy should and can create.

As a review writer try to make your reviews unique when compared to competitors reviews. Don’t always try and talk at your people, as if you know more than them, talk to them, the review should come as something where you are trying to share your thoughts, let the review sound as if given a chance it can become a chirpy and bustling conversation. The reader should feel like he is part of some discussion, where his point of view is being given a fair chance.

Your review should sound like it has a clear opinion, you are stating facts not weaving a poetry, be detailed, not as in filling pages, but explaining a certain aspect in detail for the reader to be able to imagine and be able to relate to it. Also don’t play safe and leave the decision to the client whether or not to use/buy the product. Instead be honest and suggest as honestly and diplomatically as your word-smithy permits. For example some things are good for some people but not good for others so you can say that if you are certain and certain type its for you, and if you aren’t then it will do you better to check out with people who are using it to get a better idea.

There are courses and books available online which teach you a proper way to write reviews and join the league of professionals who are earning a living off it. If you want you can take a course or buy an eBook but finally what will help is your own expression and style that you develop over a period of time.

And as far as I think this is what the books will teach you. As I say this I also strongly feel that reading a good book will save you time and effort and will offer you guidance in the right direction. It’s up to you. Finally a good course or a book will never harm, at the most at the end of the course you may feel disappointed that it did have anything new to teach but beyond that it cannot harm.

You can start your career as a review writer by offering to write free reviews for people in various arenas, thus slowly build reputation and clientele; doing free reviews gives you experience and exposure that you would otherwise not have had and it will also help you understand a thing or two about the types of reviews you are more comfortable doing etc.

If you enjoy a subject and review products related to it, you are bound to like your work a lot more and this will show in the reviews you write. And finally it will all boil down to your rising demand as a review writer in your chosen field.

So if you think this is something you can consider, give it all you have, put your best foot forward, and keep your patience and sooner than you know, success will be at your doorstep. Finally finding job as a review writer is not difficult. You can go to various job boards or platforms where writers communicate to exchange ideas, information and news. You will find lots of jobs on them. You can apply on assignment basis, hourly basis, permanent basis, no. of reviews basis and so on… however you want, but before that prepare yourself to get there. Fine-tune your craft, fine-tune your senses to understand your market, your product your target audiences’ psyche….

Good luck.

How to Do It: start by publishing and writing free reviews on your own website or blog or on other people’s websites and blogs if they allow
Qualification: Knack of writing, command over language, review writing craft
Skills: Understanding market, product, customer’s perception and mindset. An important thing is that the person writing reviews should be also familiar with lingo to be used in review because every country reads, writes and perceives things differently. An American may not be able to relate with a review done by an Asian for a product or book, its likely… so that aspect sit ob e kept in mind.
Equipments: computer
Who can’t do – people who are clear about being not interested in this genre of writing
Traditional Education: none. Most reviews are written in English so good command and understanding of the language will work well.

How to Earn Extra Money Writing an eBook

Writing an eBook is an exciting and interesting career option for those who know how to write. And for someone to become an eBook writer, it is not mandatory to be a published writer. So that gets one perceived hurdle out of the way to start with.

If you like to write, and you like reading; if your command over the language is good; your vocabulary is better than average; are enough qualifications for a starter. Plus if the career clicks, the money is great.

People who love the craft of writing and have gotten familiar with eBook writing techniques and formats (which happen to be very user-friendly), are doing well for themselves; making decent money plus doing a good job of what they have been asked to do; because what they do is what they like, and enjoy; and this is a simple secret to their happiness, it also keeps their hands and hearts full with assignments; and job satisfaction, and what not.

What’s an eBook and what’s the Job of an eBook Writer?

Before you take your first step, it will do you good to understand what exactly an Ebook is and what does an eBook writer do. eBook stands for an electronic book that can be written, edited, proofread, published, read, circulated, reviewed, and copied online. You can read them on computer or kindle; they save space, trees, they are easy to carry.

What makes eBooks a Preferred Choice?

If you have a Kindle you can carry several eBooks and novels at once without feeling the hint of extra luggage. Plus these days it’s a better option because people are online or on their computer most of the time, and reading anything beyond a news paper is becoming less and less popular… looking at all these reasons, eBook seems like a good and permanent feature that is here to stay. So choosing a career as an eBook writer is not a bad one at all.

Where Can You Use eBooks?

If you have a blog or website through which you are selling a product or information you can write your own eBook and distribute if to your clients free of cost. OR you yourself sell eBooks on various subjects on your website or blog and earn money from it, or you can write eBooks for other people for a cost. There are many ways to go about writing and selling eBooks.

What Type of an eBook Writer You Want to Be?

I know people, who have gained popularity and expertise by writing many eBooks revolving around one topic. And I also know people who possess amazing research skill and have written excellent and sought after eBooks on a wide range of subjects.

Decide how would you like to see yourself in the community of eBook writers, if you can’t answer this question right now; eventually after gaining some exposure and experience you will be able to sort things out.

The kind of books you would like to write will also depend on your area of expertise and interest. If you decide to take up an assignment of writing about a topic you have no interest in you will do a mediocre job of it. Writing about something you are not interested in is not same as writing about something you have not much heard of; because for the latter when you start doing research you just might develop interest in the subject which will reflect in the quality of your research and output. So write on the topic that interests you so that you can write easily and find information about it more enthusiastically.

The style of writing an eBook is also different from writing a normal book because there the person is going to read it on one’s computer, so that layout you follow will be slightly different from a regular book layout; the eBooks are generally divided into various chapters and all the chapters are broken down into many headlines and sub-headlines and paragraphs.

Since the online readers is suppose to have smaller attention span, less time, and more distractions, hard core information presented directly is more popular than embroidering patterns of words to arrive at a point.

Also remember that the price you decide for your eBooks should always be measured against amount of information you have packed in the eBook rather than the number of pages you have written. <

The manuscript of an eBook is called e-Text. This can be written in simple MS word file from where it can be transferred to eBook compiler software if you have access to one. There are many ways of publishing an eBook, it can be in PDF format, you can use adobe for it, your eBook can be in HTML format etc. There are several software’s readily available for free as well as against a cost which you can use to create your eBook. As a beginner you can try creating one for yourself of your own interest and give it away free. It will give you an experience and familiarise you with various practical aspects and difficulties of writing an eBook.

It’s by far the best way to go about giving your career as an eBook writer a good start. Choose a topic of your interest, collect information, and compile it properly with the help of software of your choice and ready it to send it to people who are looking for one with an impressive and convincing covering note.

While you do this be prepared that your first eBook may not be a great hit, may not become viral, however it will give you the pleasure of completing an assignment and being on the way to becoming an eBook writer. If you arrange for a cricket bat, ball, wickets, a team, and practice it will not mean you will become Sachin Tendulkar; but then you would become a cricketer nevertheless. So go ahead and give it your first and best shot! If you want to know anything, feel free tow rite to us; if you have something interesting and informative to add, please leave your suggestions. We will publish them if they have not been published already.

How to Do It: if you like to write, choose a topic, develop and ready content for your eBook in a proper format, get familiar with software to compile your first eBook, and after adding a personal touch of creativity, throw it open to the public to read and review it.
Qualification: Flair for writing. Typing, No formal qualification
Skills: Typing, handling eBook compiler software, familiarity with html, pdf will prove to be an added advantage
Equipments: Computer, internet, eBook compiling sotware
Who can’t do – People whose language (including grammar) skills are not up to the mark; or those who do not have a thing for writing.
Traditional Education: None
Recommended Resource

How to Earn Extra Money Re-writing Poorly Written Ads

It may come as a surprise to some but you can also earn money online by re-writing ads that are written poorly. This is also a big profession out there. People who advertise their business don’t know how to do it effectively, because they might have business acumen to run the business successfully but they do not have the talent for writing. So such people when they go online and advertise their products or services on the net it fetches a very poor response. Bad copy can easily spoil a good product.

Initially they are not able to understand why it is happening but gradually when they start analysing their action or hire someone to submit a report they are given to understand that their ad copy is substandard or poor; it does not leave an impact in the mind of the reader. At this stage outside services are hired where the advertisement undergoes changes by changing the format in which the information in the advertisement is presented. There are professionals who know the craft of rewriting the ads without changing the meaning or the ad.

If you are a good writer, can express yourself accurately and are good at taking briefing, (listening) you can become a writer whose job is to bring a makeover to the drab and shabby advertisements and make them more attractive and attention grabbing. A good ad is an effective ad and not where big words are used. The ad overall should hit the reader and should be such that it stands out in ten other ads. If you think you can do it, you can market yourself as an ad re-writer.

You can go to various jobs boards, communities, forums and blogs that are exclusively focusing on this type of writing and make your presence felt on them by doings posts, commenting on posts etc on a regular basis. You can also to to platforms where biddings are happening for work. You can join online advertising agencies as a copy writer or editor. To become an expert in this craft you should have a good vocabulary, you should be able to express yourself well, and you should have the knack and intelligence to understand what the product is all about, before working on re-writing the ad for it. You should also be smart enough to pick a good copy from a bad one and likewise you should be able to find out and understand about what the client wants and wants to read. Because there have been many instances when products have failed not because they were bad but because the copy was bad or ineffective.

To become ad copy editor go ahead and fine tune your skills as well as senses. Keep your antenna on alert for learning every little thing about human psyche, i.e. customer psyche; always evaluate your writing to know whether it is helping the client get more clicks to his blog or site or not, for your own sake and improvement. Also improve your vocabulary.

Always know that an intimidating ad copy is never as good as an `easy to read and relate’ copy. If you have found the skill to communicate with your reader about things he wants to hear without being dishonest about the product then consider yourself fit for the job. If you find yourself convincing and successful in imparting your perspective to the reader, you are doing a good job. Above all you have to enjoy this work because unless you enjoy the work it will not be possible for you to inject live into the copy. To make the copy speak or to be able to speak to your audience you will have to enjoy the work. That’s one very important bit about becoming an online ad editor which was about to give me a slip. Thank god I remembered it in time to share it with readers who have an editor in them itching to arrive!

How to Do It: Write, edit, offer free services as writer and editor to start with, next go to job boards, forums, join communities, groups; apply for copy editor’s job
Qualification: effective communicator, experience as ad copy writer/editor
Skills: editing, typing, writing, ability to understand customer, product, market
Equipments: internet, computer
Who can’t do – people who do not enjoy writing
Traditional Education: none

What Is Advanced Editing All About?

I am hope this out of the blue and a rather off shoot post will come in handy for writers while they are editing their next post.

Editing forms as an important component of writing because it helps you to fix mistakes, be they grammatical, composition errors, omission of words, etc. Finally, nobody wants to read misspelt or imperfect web copy; wrong grammar, poorly composed sentences etc happen to be huge put offs because they give a certain impression about the writer; it looks as if the writer’s knowledge and skills to express are less than perfect; and nobody is looking for anything like that.

Apart from the above mentioned faults, there are other kinds of mistakes too. For example, when you re-read what you’ve written, you may come across violation of connection that may be required to bridge.

Mistakes are part and parcel of writing. The point is they should be fixed before presenting it to the consumer. Mistakes happen for a range of reasons, sometimes the writer may be find appropriate word or expression for something; and sometimes also because the speed at which we type and the speed at which our mind is thinking and transforming information into words are not the same; as a result of this we may sometimes skip to type some words; also, sometimes we are in a hurry to jump from one topic to the other which while reading comes to the notice and sounds out of sync; all these things are taken care of at the editing stage.

Sometimes the information becomes so lengthy that as it progresses in length and words, it may sometimes lose component of human connection. An editor’s job is to rectify it. Editors should not limit their skills merely to checking spelling, altering sentences, formatting, and grammatical errors in the copy. A good editor will look beyond the basic bookish level flaws.

A real editor is a Communications Specialist and his job is to bring copy written by Information Specialist to life; it’s his job to add soul to the article, essay or whatever that s/he is working on.

Just like we may sometimes skip important words, we may also sometimes miss out on connecting two topics that we are talking in the same context/article. This also happens for the same reason – that our mind is transforming information at a different speed than the instructions t it is able to delegate to our fingers to type.

An editor has to be able to identify the flaw; and then seamlessly connect everything without compromising the basic message that the writer is aiming to convey; or without causing any confusion to the reader.

This also means the editor has to be well versed with many different subjects, and know about reader’s pulse. He should know how a certain type of reader likes his content to read; and how he doesn’t.

A good editor knows about the tones and temperaments of various kinds of readers, and it’s for him to ensure that what he is given to edit; its final output ultimately resonates with the reader it is being written for.

While I am saying all this I don’t mean to say that writers can’t be editors; on the contrary my personal belief is that if writer is not an editor (or vice versa – barring exceptions) it won’t work well. However, everyone thinks differently and everyone is as right about it as any other.

The last tip is based on my own experience of writing for so many years. I have a suggestion, that after everything is edited and approved of; when the copy gets finally published and goes live; read it just one more (and last!) time. When we read it live, it’s a very different experience from reading the same stuff in a word file.

I don’t know how it happens or what is that extra sense that starts working; and where it comes from, but it matters. Some changes look so obvious, when seen in live environment. It’s an experience, not something I have learnt from books or have known after reading some article online. It’s an experience, and I will suggest you too experience it to take the feeling home.

( While I edited this post I have interchanged entire paragraphs because they looked out of sync; opening sentence was in between 2nd and 3rd paragraph that I thought would make a better opening line.. and so much more.)

Enjoy your writing, and become better at the craft. Wishing you all the very best.

Tips about Choice of Words in Writing

There is usually a chapter on ‘choice of words’ in books on writing. If you get the right attitude towards writing and do a considerable amount of practice you will have no particular difficulty about choosing the right words. In any case it’s more a matter of choosing the right ideas than the right words.

What you certainly ought to do, however, is to discipline yourself in the matter of new words by consulting the dictionary about any word which is strange to you. The dictionary — a good dictionary — will tell you how that word is normally used; it will also give you a note on the derivation of the word and very often that can be very useful indeed.

You certainly need to build up your writing vocabulary. Naturally, the more limited your vocabulary is, the less choice you have. The best way of increasing the number of words at your command is to read widely, consulting the dictionary whenever you are in doubt. Now for a short exercise.

Exercise:

In each of the items below one word is left out. After each item a choice of words is given. One of these words is the one used by the writer of the sentence quoted. See if you can pick the same one as he did.

1. I want to go south, where there is no autumn, where the cold does not ……… over one like a snow-leopard waiting to pounce. (D. H. Lawrence)

hang crouch lurk linger

2. So have I ……….. my life away, reading books, looking at pictures, going to plays, hearing, thinking; writing on what pleased me best. (W. Hazlitt)

loitered squandered dallied wasted

3. Mathematics possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty — a beauty told and ………….., like that of sculpture. (Bertrand Russell)

chill ascetic austere controlled

4. A rolling stone gathers no moss, but it gains a certain ………….. (Oliver Herford)

polish reputation shape character

5. His studies were pursued but never …………… overtaken. (H. U. Wells)

really successfully fully effectually

6. Kings are not born; they are made by universal …………… (G. B. Shaw)

hallucination acclaim consent tradition

7. As a general rule, run your pen through every other word you have written, you have no idea what …………… it will give your style. (Samuel Butler)

grace directness clarity vigour

8. The man who can’t tell a lie thinks he is the best judge of ……………… (Mark Twain)

truth honesty one integrity

9. He wrote brilliant English until he discovered ………………

Oscar Wilde

French grammar style politics

10. Why don’t you get a hair-cut; you look like a ………………… (P. G. Wodehouse)

golliwog mop chrysanthemum tramp

Answer:

1.crouch. 2. loitered. 3. austere. 4. polish. 5. effectually. 6. hallucination. 7. vigour. 8. one. 9. grammar. 10. chrysanthemum.

What Are the Most Common Punctuation Mistakes?

‘On the lake below the fishing-boats were already pushing out into the dawn.’

In reading that sentence you will probably have reached the word ‘fishing-boats’ before you realised that ‘below’ had nothing to do with fishing-boats but with something else that is not stated, e.g.

‘On the lake below the rocky spur on which we were standing, the fishing-boats were already pushing out into the dawn.’

Ordinary commonsense suggests that it would be useful in such a context to have some means of telling the reader straightaway that he is on the wrong track if he thinks even for a split second that ‘below’ is connected even with the ‘the’ that comes immediately after it. In this case the separation is achieved by inserting a comma.

‘On the lake below, the fishing-boats were already pushing out into the dawn.’

Plain commonsense will, as in that case, take you a long way towards sound punctuation.

The most obvious piece of commonsense, however, is not to write sentences that require complicated punctuation.

That having been said, here are a few guiding rules.

The comma

The most common punctuation mark, also the most misused. The commonest mistake is to separate the subject of a sentence from its verb.

That useful tool the hammer, is probably the oldest of human inventions.

There ‘tool’ is separated from ‘is’. Wrong.

Yet a comma is necessary after ‘hammer’.

That useful tool, the hammer, is probably the oldest of human inventions.

There, ‘hammer’, which is a kind of afterthought, is separated from the rest of the sentence in such a way as to leave ‘tool’ unseparated by punctuation from ‘is’. The pair of commas is like a pair of brackets. You do the same with any words that singly, or in a group, stand apart from the main structure of the sentence. That happens with ‘however’, for example, when that word occurs inside the sentence. ‘For example’, as you have just seen, is another example of the same thing.

When you begin a sentence with a subordinate clause of some length, as in this sentence, you ought to mark it off from the rest of the sentence by a comma.

The comma is also used to mark off items in a list:

They found in his pockets a diamond ring, a car key. a box of pills, and a gold cigarette lighter.

You have never seen such a dirty, snarling, frightened and unattractive little beast as that dog was the first time we saw him.

Some people omit the comma before ‘and’ in such lists. This is a matter of taste. Note that in the second of these sentences there is no comma between ‘unattractive’ and ‘little’. That makes sense because ‘little’ does not belong to the list of qualities. You might, in fact, regard ‘little- beast’ as one word.

The semi-colon

It separates the two halves of a sentence either of which is very much a sentence in its own right though both are so closely connected in meaning that you don’t want them to look too much like two separate ideas or too far apart, e.g.

Suffer fools gladly; they may be right.

So, you see, it’s not a matter of shoving in a semi-colon because the sentence is becoming too long.

The colon

Don’t bother with it except when you want to indicate that an example, or a list of examples, of something you have mentioned is going to follow.

The full stop

Autumn rain. The pavements brown with fallen leaves. The street lights coming on half an hour early because of the heavy sky.

If you are going to use full stops at the end of phrases instead of at the end of fully expressed sentences, make sure that somehow or other your reader knows that you are conscious of doing so. The best way of letting him know is to write soundly constructed sentences when fully expressed sentences are required.

Exercise:

Punctuate the following sentences. You will learn more about punctuation by doing so and by studying the correct versions given in the ‘Answers and Comments’ section than you will by reading any number of rules.

1. between a womans yes and no I would not venture to stick two pins.

2. the world is full of wiling people some willing to work and the rest willing to let them.

3. if everybody minded their own business the duchess said in a hoarse growl the world would go round a great deal faster than it does.

4. if all economists were laid end to end they would not reach a conclusion.

5. when a man wants to murder a tiger he calls it sport when a tiger wants to murder him he calls it ferocity.

6. if a mosquito bite thee on the hand give him the other palm downward.

7. when you are climbing a mountain don’t talk silence gives ascent.

8. a fine handsome specimen of British man hood standing every bit of six foot two in his shoes and fearing nothing but closing time.

9. it seems the most obvious commonsense that when we do our counting in tens anyway we should do our measuring of monetary value temperature length weight and volume on the same sort of scale.

10. we use a decimal system which means a system based on ten the operators of digital computers use a system based on two for actual calculation and one based on eight for the storage of results.

Answer:

1. Between a woman’s ‘yes’ and ‘no’, I would not venture to stick two pins.

2. The world is full of willing people; some willing to work, the rest willing to let them.

3. ‘If everybody minded their own business,’ said the Duchess in a hoarse growl, ‘the world would go round a great deal faster.’

Note: The grammatical purist would have ‘his’ not ‘their’.

4. If all economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion.

5. When a man wants to murder a tiger, he calls it sport; when a tiger wants to murder him, he calls it ferocity.

6. If a mosquito bites thee on the hand, give him the other — palm downward.

7. When you are climbing a mountain, don’t talk; silence gives ascent.

8. A fine handsome specimen of British man hood, standing every bit of six foot two in his shoes, and fearing nothing but closing time.

9. It seems the most obvious commonsense that when we do our counting in tens anyway we should do our measuring of monetary value, temperature, length, weight, and volume on the same sort of scale.

10. We use a decimal system, which means a system based on ten; the operators of digital computers use a system based on two for actual calculation, and one based on eight for the storage of results.

Good Writing Style and English Skill

Grammar and English skill doesn’t make you write good, nor does not knowing no grammar make you write bad neither. Words is not good nor neither is they bad and grammar is rules for words and nobody that isn’t ‘with it’ nowadays does not believe that rules is not meant to be broken. Writing is an art like painting is an art and you can paint a painting nowadays by squirting paint on a canvas on the ground and riding on a bicycle over the paint and there was that art lecturer, destructive art, that was digging a hole in a concrete floor in a plastic suit and calling it art. So there is no rules in art and literature is art and grammar is rules and one of them is as far east as the other is as far west as far as art is concerned and as far as writing style is concerned because there is a difference between painting and writing the only thing that matters are that what you write was understood and the under standing was what you intended it will be.

I expect you read that paragraph with more attention and interest than you gave to most paragraphs in article. You probably under stood it as fully as you did any of the others, too. Is it then good English?

One of the things that is most insisted upon in books on how to write is that the style should be clear and direct. The whole aim of Sir Ernest Gowers books, that were commissioned by the Treasury, was to try to persuade civil servants to learn how to write in a style that had these two characteristics. And yet if you try to read a document drawn up by the most expert lawyers, you will frequently find yourself at a loss to under stand what is meant even though the document is concerned with nothing more complicated than whether such or such a simple object is or is not subject to purchase tax. Again, if you pick up an academic journal dealing such ordinary matters as how a child gets on with his brothers and sisters, you may find yourself overwhelmed with words you do not understand. Has it not, after all, been said that a psychologist is one who tells you what you already knew in language you do not understand?

The plain fact is that ‘good style’ in writing cannot be precisely defined. A style that is fitting, and therefore ‘good’, for one purpose may be unsuitable for another and vice versa, and a style that was regarded as ‘good’ a hundred years ago would not necessarily be regarded as ‘good’ to day. –

‘Good for what?’ That is more to the point than ‘good’ by itself.

‘Drinka winta pinta’ would not be regarded as good by a teacher who wants her pupils to spell correctly, but apparently somebody thinks it good for selling milk. The first paragraph in this article breaks the accepted rules of-grammar right, left and centre, but in my opinion it does the job I want it to do. That deliberately odd way of writing suits the topic the paragraph is dealing with.

That being said, it is still true that a clear, direct style of writing is best for most purposes most of the time. So you are not wasting your energies if you concentrate on learning to write as clearly as possible.

It would be a bit naive for me to leave things just like that, however. It’s all very well for the text books to go on year after year extolling the virtues of a clear, direct style of writing, while all around us we see writers of all kinds apparently trying to get as far away as possible from simple English. The advertising copy-writer does not say that Antigua is an island in the Caribbean but that it floats there like a biscuit in wine; the sports writer is not content to say that a winger has excellent ball control but calls him ‘that touch-line professor with the intellectual feet’ and there is a great amount of writing nowadays that seems to conceal more than it reveals. There is this to be said, however, about concentrating on acquiring a clear style of writing: the discipline of doing so gives you a considerable amount of insight into the whole business of communication and enables you to see through the verbiage of others rather better than you might otherwise do.

Exercise:

Read the following passage carefully and comment on its style and content. Compare what you say with what I say at the end of this article.

‘There are non-social restraints which make it difficult or even impossible to change one’s ability. These non-social restraints are largely absent for opinions.

‘If a person changes his mind about some thing, deserts one belief in favor of another, there is no further difficulty in the way of con summating the change. It is true that there are sometimes considerable difficulties in getting someone to change his mind concerning an opinion or belief. Such resistance may arise because of consistency with other opinions or beliefs, personality characteristics that make a person lean in one direction or another, and the like. But the point to be stressed is that once these resistances are overcome there is no further restraint which would make it difficult for the change to become effective.

‘There are generally strong non-social restraints, however, against changing one’s ability, or changing one’s performance which reflects that ability. Even if a person is convinced that he should be able to run faster or should be more intelligent, and even if he is highly motivated to improve his ability in this respect, there are greater difficulties in the way of consummating the change.’

Answer:

This is sheer verbiage.

If it has any meaning at all, it is that you can change your opinions more easily than you can change your ability.

The passage, however, does not begin to be good and skilled in English if ‘good’ is defined S being ‘direct. English’. For example, the first paragraph says. in effect that though sometimes is it difficult for a person to change his opinions, once he has changed them, he hasn’t any difficulty. And what on earth does that mean?

If the second paragraph meant that you can’t add an inch to your stature by taking thought, and it seems to mean something like that, then I’d understand it. But as it is written, it makes me look for facts that will contradict it, e.g. if I am convinced I ought to be able to type faster, then I set about practicing, and eventually do type faster.

Writing of this kind is so irritating to a reader who has disciplined himself to clear writing style that even when the writer has something to say it will not be listened to.’

What Words, Pet Phrases and Repetitions to Avoid When Writing

I am sure you know somebody who has one or two pet phrases that occur once or twice in every few sentences he speaks. These phrases vary according to the part of the country and the social environment of the individual. You may have noticed that when television reporters interview people on the streets of London, there are usually one or two who insert ‘I mean’ or ‘I mean to say’ several times in the course of the interview:

‘I mean to say, I mean, I don’t hold with that at all, I mean. I mean it doesn’t make sense. After all, I mean, if you were in that position, if. you were in that position, I mean, if it was you, you yourself, I mean, you wouldn’t, I mean you wouldn’t, would you, I mean.’

The repetition isn’t often as frequent as that. I don’t mean that it is, I mean. There was, how ever, a recent TV interview of which that is a fair impression.

‘As it were’, ‘so to speak’, ‘well’ — these are other common addictions of the kind.

The same kind of thing is likely to happen in writing and just as the speaker does not hear himself uttering his ‘I mean’, so the writer may not notice that he has become the victim of the pet phrase addiction. Watch out for the pet phrases, and stamp them out before they get a hold of you. They are an irritation to the reader, and, remember, what happens in the reader’s mind is more important than what happens in yours.

1. concerned:

The first word I warn you against is ‘concerned’. It is first on my list merely because ‘as far as . . . . is concerned’ or ‘so far as. . . . is concerned’ became at one time a habit-phrase with me.

Here is a sentence in which ‘as far as. . . . was concerned’ is superfluous:

‘The weather made no difference as far as the standard of play was concerned.’

There are too many words chasing one little idea here.

Why not? — ‘The weather made no difference to the standard of play.’ or ‘The weather did not affect the standard of play.’

or

‘The standard of play was high in spite of the bad weather.’

or

‘In spite of the bad weather most of the players returned excellent scores.’

There are so many right ways!

The last version is probably the best. I am assuming that the game referred to is golf, since it is a sport in which play is especially likely to be affected by the weather.

The reason why the last version is probably the best is that it is closer to facts. The sentence would never have been written in any form at all if the weather had not been such as to affect the scores. It is hardly conceivable that every single score was affected by the weather. The final version allows for that and says just about as much as can be said with the information avail able.

I would point out that ‘concern’ is not a ‘bad word’. ‘Our concern here is with We are here concerned chiefly with. . . .‘ These uses are perfectly acceptable.

2. that:

Next to the word ‘it’, ‘that’ is in my opinion the most awkward word in the English language. It can be the source of many difficulties in sentence construction.

Look at the number of ‘thats’ in this sentence:

‘You may think that ‘that’ is so simple and harmless a word that you can never go wrong with it, but the fact is that that same little word can lead to so many complications in a sentence that you will often find that the only thing to do is to delete what you have written and start again.’

Even short sentences can be cluttered up with ‘thats’:

‘The reason for that advice was that it is a phrase that is often used wrongly.’

Better:

‘That advice was given because the phrase is often used wrongly.’

3. fact:

A pernicious little word, and I don’t say that because facts so often turn out to be something else. My objection to it is that it is so often the centre of a little cluster of verbiage.

‘We must never forget the fact that. . is far better put in this way

‘We must never forget that. . . .’

‘If it had not been for the fact that his illness occurred at that time . . . .’

‘If he had not been ill at that time . . . .’

My advice then is to look twice at the word ‘fact’ whenever you find you have written it and ask yourself whether it is really necessary.

4. not:

Ration your negative statements. Positive ones are as a rule more direct and result in sentences that are grammatically simpler. If you let yourself become involved with ‘nots’, you may find yourself demanding intellectual acrobatics from your reader that he is not prepared to try. Here is a sentence which is in its way almost a work of art- perverse art:

‘There is not the slightest doubt that if Goodliffe were not so erratic he could not be regarded as second to any player in the world.’

The curious thing is that people can read through a sentence like that and understand quite clearly what the writer means to say — until they try to disentangle it. They can only do so by ignoring some of the words in the sentence.

Exercise:

Rewrite the following sentences in the light of what you have read in this article.

1. As concerns the criticism that the notice of the meeting was too short, the only answer can be that more office help is needed so that the paper-work can be done in time.

2. The magistrate announced that he felt so strongly about the disturbance that that manner of behaviour would in future be treated as contempt of court.

3. None of the policemen expected trouble and were taken by surprise when the scrap escalated into a riot.

4. To increase the fruiting powers of these trees by this pruning system it is not enough that they should be pruned once but several times during the season.

5. He said that he stood by the fact that the objections he made now could not be said to be anything but the same as the ones that he had made last time.

6. But for the fact that the weather was unsettled we could not say that our holiday was any less enjoyable than last year.

7. As concerns the latest reports that there was some doubt that storm-damage had affected rail- communication, there is no reason to suppose that it was so destructive that it could be expected that the train would be ten hours late.

8. He did not neglect to point out that there was no need for anyone not to be aware of that particular regulation.

9. The policeman took no notice of the fact that the sign saying that parking was prohibited was so obscured by overhanging branches that it might as well have not been there for that purpose.

10. My time-table was so elastic that even that sudden change of date made very little difference to my plans as far as! was concerned.

Answer:

1. There is a simple answer to the criticism that the notice about the meeting was not sent out in time — shortage of office-staff.

2. The magistrate said he felt so strongly about the disturbance that he would treat any recurrence of that sort of behaviour as contempt of court.

3. The police, who were not expecting trouble, were taken by surprise when the scrap developed into a riot.

Note: The grammar of the original sentence suggests that none of the police were surprised. My version has a weakness that is not easily avoided because of the form of the original sentence. The police ought really to be shown to have been surprised by the ‘scrap’ even before it developed into a riot. Keep ‘escalated’ if you like.

4. With this system, one pruning in the season is not enough; regular pruning throughout the season is necessary for increasing the fruiting power of the trees.

Note: The grammar of the original suggests that even ‘several times’ is not enough.

5. Note: It is quite possible that this sentence is accurate reporting. What he actually did say may be given here in indirect speech. It’s the roundabout way some people have of speaking when they become involved with negative statements. The form required is:

He said that his present objections were the same as those he had put forward last time.

6. In spite of the unsettled weather, we had as good a holiday as we had last year.

7. This one is a real mix-up. ‘Some doubt that’ should, of course, be ‘some doubt whether’.

‘That’ is used after ‘doubt’ only in the negative F ‘no doubt’, e.g., ‘There is no doubt that…’

The best I can do with this piece of contorted language, however, is this:

The latest reports suggest that some damage may have been caused to the railway line. The train, however, is not likely to be as much as (or ‘more than’) ten hours late.

8. He pointed out that everybody had had an opportunity of knowing about that regulation.

9. The policeman made no allowance for the fact that the ‘no parking’ sign was obscured by overhanging branches.

10. I was so little tied down to particular times that the sudden change of date made little difference to my plans.

Improve Your Grammar Skills to Write Better

In My Early Life Winston Churchill wrote of his English lessons at school

‘Not only did we learn English parsing thoroughly, but we also practiced continually English analysis. Mr. Somervell had a system of his own. He took a fairly long sentence and broke it up into its components by means of black, red, blue and green inks. Subject, verb, object: Relative Clauses, Conditional Clauses, Conjunctive and Disjunctive Clauses! Each had its color and its bracket. It was a kind of drill. We did it almost daily. . . Thus J got into my bones the essential structure of the ordinary British sentence — which is a noble thing.’

It is possible that after the exercise which rounded off my last article you are looking for flaws in that quotation. If, however, you feel that ‘ordinary’ is out of place there since ordinary sentences do not usually impress you by their nobility of structure, let me point out that here Churchill was contrasting the learning of English with the learning of the more esoteric Latin and Greek. With your increasing skill in finding flaws, you might, however, point out that Mr. Somervell never broke up a sentence with colored ink of any kind, but merely showed by means of colored inks how he had broken them up. You may note, too, that, without the dash preceding it, ‘which’ is a noble thing’ would be wrongly attached to ‘sentence’ instead of ’structure’. With the dash, however, it begins to suggest that the noble thing was ‘getting the essential structure into his bones’.

It looks then that almost daily practice in analysis even with the use of colored inks does not bring with it a guarantee that you will always be able to find the words that fit the facts.

Most of the readers of this article will have been taught in their schooldays by men and women incapable of breaking up sentences as Mr. Somervell did and with no intention of ever learning how to do so, for grammar is no longer regarded as one of the main pillars of education. There was indeed so strong a reaction against the teaching of grammar a few decades ago that a whole generation of teachers grew up who cannot remember having a grammar lesson in their lives.

The argument about the teaching of grammar still goes on, but I am not going into the details of the controversy here.

Here, however, are a few paragraphs from a newspaper article that appeared when I was writing this article:

‘Alone the English-speakers have escaped the toils of grammar which enslave all Europeans. A splendid writer on languages, Sir Douglas Busk, estimates that a foreigner can learn the whole of English grammar in the same time that he can master the four regular French verbs, which are merely the first step in the appalling complexity of French grammar.’

There’s a lot of truth in that statement.

One of the strange things about grammar, however, is that people who have not been taught grammar in a formal kind of way think they have missed something important. They feel that there has been something lacking in their education. That, at any rate, is the impression I have with students. Are they right? Would some knowledge of English grammar improve their ability in the writing of English?

It all depends on how they are taught it and on their teacher’s idea of what grammar is all about. You have been doing grammar exercises even though they have not been called that and even though you may not have realized that they were exercises in grammar. Every time you are reading a sentence in order to find out if it expresses the writer’s meaning exactly, you are involved with some aspect of grammar and that aspect can be denoted by the question, ‘Which word goes with which?’ If there are two referents for ‘it’, for example, the sentence in which that ‘it’ occurs has a shaky grammatical structure. Practice in the detection and elimination of these technical hitches is of far more use to you than any formal lessons in grammar and you don’t need to know the meaning of such grammatical terms as ‘nominative absolute’ or ‘mis- related participle’ in order to write clear sentences.

There’s another thing that makes it difficult for me to recommend a course of English grammar to you. And it is that English grammar is being rewritten. Most of the grammar books at present on the market are old-fashioned because they still show the influence of the days when Latin was a major subject in the grammar and public schools of this country and much of the grammar taught in English classes was Latin grammar masquerading as English. At present there’s a team of experts busy in London writing a modern grammar of modern English, but they are not expecting to have finished their job for some years yet.

Fortunately commonsense gets you a long way in this field. By all means get hold of a simple English grammar and study it, but if there is anything in it that does not sound like common- sense to you, don’t worry your head about it.

There isn’t room for me in this article to give you a skeleton-key to English grammar, but I will now give you a few points to bear in mind.

You’ve heard of the ‘parts of speech’. Note the of speech. That implies that words get names like adjective, noun and so on because of the way they are used. This is important. A word has no grammatical quality at all except when it is connected with other words. I ask you what part of speech ‘hammer’ is — and you’d be naive if you replied except with the question: ‘In what connection?’ or something like that. In the following sentences ‘hammer’ is doing two different things:

You’ll need a claw-hammer for that job. Hammer the thing out!

In this article, I referred to a programmed learning book called Effective English. Do you recall the sentence I quoted from it? Here it is:

‘One of the easiest ways to show lack of ability as a writer is to make mistakes in the agreement of subjects and verbs.’

Who, I ask you, is looking for an easy way of showing lack of ability as a writer?

The implication of that twisted statement is that that particular mistake is one of the commonest. That is not my experience. Nobody who is far enough advanced as to read this article is likely to make that mistake once in several thousand sentences. I estimate that over the years I have found that mistake occurring only about once in something like 30,000 sentences written by students. When it does occur, it is more like a slip of the pen than a sign of lack of ability as a writer. Lack, of ability to reread carefully is more likely.

Here is the sort of thing I mean:

‘The main reason for these changes are the easy availability of transport nowadays.’

The mistake should be obvious to you reason — are instead of reason — is.

The main reason for this kind of mistake is that the right version sounds like a tune in which a wrong note has been played. You’ll hear that note in the following version of the sentence that precedes this one:

‘The main reason for such mistakes is that the right version sounds like a tune in which a wrong note has been played.’

One expects ‘mistakes — are’. Our inner speech, perhaps, feels more comfortable with ‘mistakes — are’ than with ‘mistakes — is’. The neighboring plural forces the mind away from the singular subject. Take this example:

‘One of the main reasons for these changes are the large numbers of cars on the roads to-day.’

‘Reasons’, ‘changes’, ‘numbers’, ‘cars’, ‘roads’ — what chance of survival has a little singular ‘is’ in so plural a context.

I like to keep partitions between singulars and plurals when I write. Look back at the quotation from the newspaper article earlier in this article. There ‘which are the first step’ jars slightly on my ear. I am possibly too sensitive about this, but I’d rather put it like this — ‘which together form the first step’. In the context of that article, however, it jars rather more because I know very well that the first step is the mastering of the four regular French verbs, not the verbs themselves. Here we have another example of the failure of the grammar to echo to the sense.

The upshot of all this is that I do not think that you’ll find much difficulty in avoiding ‘the easiest way’ of showing your lack of ability in the writing of good English.

Do I need to tell you that every fully expressed sentence has a subject and a verb? If I do, you should be reading a much simpler article than this. I think I ought to point out, however, that the word ‘sentence’ is used in some peculiar ways nowadays.

Good morning!

That can be regarded as a sentence.

Yes.

That can also be regarded as a sentence.

The fully expressed grammatical sentence, however, does have a subject, which is either a noun or a pronoun, and a verb which completes the statement.

Snakes hiss.

Hardy wrote.

These are sentences — the shortest, in number of words, that you can get, in the sense in which I am using the word ‘sentence’ here.

On the other hand
snakes hissing

and

Hardy writing
are not sentences.

Nor are

while snakes hissed

and

when Hardy was writing.

I think that the only substantial difficulty in English grammar is that of distinguishing between words that look like verbs, but are not verbs and those that look Like verbs and are.

I’ll try to clear it up for you.

The first step is to realise that a word has no grammar unless it is in a context. When you see v after a word in a dictionary, do not take it to mean that the word is a verb, was a verb and always will be a verb; it means no more than that in English speaking and writing that word is generally used to do what we might call verb- work. That is to say, in contexts it has normally been used in that way. The context is usually verbal — with, of course, the usual referents that give language meaning. There may be a context of real things, however, as when the word table’ appears on a card placed on a table in an infant class-room as part of a reading-lesson. There the surrounding context shows the word to be a noun. Not so, however, in the context; ‘I table the following motion . . . .’

The next step is to be absolutely clear in your mind that the grammatical terms — noun, adjective, verb, and so on — are not the names of the words but of the functions the words perform in sentences. The real meaning of the sentence ‘Hammer is a noun’, for example, must be ‘In this context the word ‘hammer’ is doing that kind of work we think of as noun-work.

Look at the various uses of the word ‘hiss’ and its derivatives in the following sentences and phrases:

1. Nothing could be heard but the hissing of the rain.

2. He did not so much speak as hiss.

3. The steam hissed; someone cleared his throat. No one left- no one came.

4. The hissing kettle on the hob.

5. The hiss of steam from the locomotive.

In 1.‘hissing’ is a noun; in 2. it is the same as ‘speak’ and that is part of a compound verb ‘did not speak’; in 3. ‘hissed’ is a verb; in 4. ‘hissing’ is an adjective; in 5. ‘hiss’ is a noun.

The first three are complete sentences; the last two are not.

If 5. is not a complete sentence, what about the following paragraph, is it wrong?

The hiss of steam from the locomotive. Cries of porters. The hooting of taxis. The clatter of a porter’s barrow. And through it all from the loud-speakers the brash voice of a woman announcer.

No, it is not wrong to write like that. It depends on what effect you want to produce. There is not a single verb in the whole lot, and yet if it produces the effect you want there is nothing what soever wrong with it. You won’t be able to produce the effect you want, however, if the reader gets the impression that you couldn’t write a complete sentence if you tried.

Now for an easy exercise.

Exercise:

Below you will find some groups of words. They are all printed as though they were fully expressed grammatical sentences. Some of them are; some of them are not. Which is which? For comments on them scroll down and see the end of the article.

I. Where you find the greatest concentration of traffic.

2. These telephone interruptions! Three times in the last five minutes!

3. There will be rain within the next half-hour by the look of it.

4. The convoy winding its way up the mountain road.

5. After I finished this job.

6. Taking time off to go to the football match.

7. When he spoke about the unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable.

8. Leaving the road, he struck off up the rocky hill-side.

9. League football has suffered in recent years from the rowdiness of a handful of spectators.

10. The necessary organization, the Government has now disclosed.

11. The son of a store-keeper in Plymouth, he had an intimate knowledge of the provisioning of ships.

12. An American tourist, detained on the charge of illegally crossing the border.

For a simple outline of English grammar, try HOW WORDS WORK (Chatto and Windus 5s.). In it I describe traditional English grammar in the context of modern commonsense.  It is written for 12—14 year olds, but if you came up through school in the non-grammar days, you need not be ashamed of having a grammatical age of less than that.

Answer:

1. This is not a complete sentence. It has indeed a subject — ‘you’ and a verb ‘find’, but it is also introduced by what is called a ‘subordinating conjunction’ — ‘where’. Since it has its subject-verb combination, it is more than a phrase; it is a clause. If the complete sentence were: This is the area where you find the greatest concentration of traffic, it would be an adjective clause limiting the meaning of the word (noun) ‘area’.

2. These are exclamations and could be regarded as complete sentences, but they are not the fully expressed grammatical sentences I have been speaking about. There’s no verb in either of them.

3. A complete sentence. The subject is ‘rain’• and the verb ‘will be’. The word ‘there’ is peculiar when you begin to think about it. It does little more than indicate that the verb is going to precede the subject.

4. Not a complete sentence. ‘Winding’ is adjectival. ‘Winding its way up the mountain road’ is an adjective phrase. If you substitute winds’, ‘is winding’, ‘was winding’ or ‘wound’ for ‘winding’, you would have a complete sentence.

5. Similar to 1. But in any sentence in which it might occur almost certainly an adverbial clause of time.

6. Neither subject nor verb here. In the com plete sentence: I am considering taking time off to go to the football match, it would be a noun phrase, the object of the verb ‘am considering’. If the sentence were, I am thinking of taking time off etc., there would be some argument amongst grammarians. They would all agree that it is a noun phrase. Some would say it is the object of the preposition ‘of’; others would say it is wrong to separate ‘of so completely from ‘think’ and that therefore the phrase is the object of ‘think of’. This fine difference need not cause you to lose sleep.

7. Similar to 5.

8. A complete sentence with ‘he’ as the subject And ‘struck’ or ‘struck off as the verb.

9. A complete sentence. Subject: league foot ball; verb: has suffered.

10. Not a complete sentence. It would be com plete if something like this were added

‘will be under the control of the Treasury.’

In such a case there would be a comma after ‘disclosed’. Note, however, that ‘the Government has now disclosed’ is just about as near as you could get to a complete sentence without actually being one.

11. A complete sentence. Subject: he; verb: had. ‘The son of a store-keeper in Plymouth’ might be called an of ‘he’. Compare these two sentences:

Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond series, was a keen golfer.

John Smith, the son of a store-keeper in Plymouth, had an intimate knowledge of the provisioning of ships.

The two phrases after the subject in those sentences are known as ‘noun phrases in apposition to . . .’

Old fashioned grammar would describe ‘the son of a store-keeper in Plymouth’, in the sentence given, also as ‘a noun phrase in apposition to’ the subject of the sentence. There is a suggestion in the sentence about John Smith and the one about ‘he’, however, that his knowledge of the provisioning of ships was connected with the fact that his father was a store-keeper in Plymouth. There is no such direct connection with Ian Fleming’s golfing enthusiasm and his writing of the James Bond novels. The old grammar took no account of that kind of difference. This is one example of the kind of thing that justifies a re-writing of the grammar of English and which also makes some sense of the statement that the rigid application of grammatical rules will not help you either to think or to write more clearly.

12. The word ‘detained’ is adjectival e.g. ‘the detained tourist’, and the whole phrase ‘detained on the charge of illegally crossing the border’ is an adjective phrase limiting the meaning of ‘tourist’. What you have here then is in effect a noun and an adjective; no verb.