Tuesday, November 6, 2007

On Grammar and Rhetoric: Tips Found in the Writing Manual Write Riveting Prose

Watching my two friends Vincent and Kay debate about the proper use of he/she pronouns—which incidentally they will never settle—prompted me to think of other grammatical points.

Of all the nuances of the English language, what fascinates me the most are (1) The Infinitives and (2) The Absolutes. But we'll talk of the latter some other time.

Why then wordsmiths such as Wilkie Collins and Hemingway could write lyrical prose without appealing to adjectives? Such a troublesome question! Then while walking along Broadway a few weeks ago, my demon whispered in my ear: "They disguise their adjectives!"

To think that I had done so much reading (and writing) without being aware of this trick annoys me to no end. So, to get even with these prestidigitators, I will expose their trick:

Let’s say you find the following sentence, Angelina Jolie’s are the lips to kiss. 'To kiss' is an infinitive (verbal) being used as an adjective, since it qualifies the noun 'lips.'

There are other twenty uses of the infinitive—but enough for today.



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The writing techniques I employ in this article are all explained in Mary Duffy's writing manual:

www.write rivetingprose.com



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