Sometimes you have to get back to basics. All writers are guilty of making mistakes at some point, and they kick themselves for months after an astute reader notices that they added one too many o’s to their “to.” Once that’s in print, you can’t take it back.
So today, I’d like to draw attention to one common mistake so that you will hopefully never have to take it back: the then-vs.-than debacle.
If there’s one significant thing that Joe and I have historically disagreed on, it’s the role of grammar in a writer’s toolbox. We complement each other well because as much as I love grammar and sentence structure, he equally embraces the dismissal of commas and the implementation of run-on sentences for art’s sake. When you get down to brass tacks though, I have to admit that he kind of has a point: grammar is somewhat arbitrary.
We all know there is a difference between I and me. Simply put, “I” is a subject, “me” is an object. Generally speaking, there aren’t any issues when you’re only referring to yourself.
The confusion starts when your first person character is joined by third person companions.
Oh, relative pronouns. You crazy, crazy kids. You can cause so much frustration with your misplaced thats, whos, and whichs. Let’s have a chat and sort you all out, shall we?
Let’s say you’re telling a story about Weston, a neurologist with a bionic elbow. When do you use which relative pronoun?