Calliope Writing

It’s National Grammar Day!

Today, March 4th, is National Grammar Day here in the United States.

A few things I will not tolerate on this day:

  • Grammar spelled as “grammer.”
  • Sentences ended with prepositions.
  • Using “you and I” when “you and me” is appropriate.
  • Anyone who utters the sentence, “Grammar is stupid.”

To celebrate, enjoy some funny grammar memes. And then double-check your grammar habits.

national grammar day 1

Funny Memes

national grammar day 3

national grammar day 4

national grammar day 5

national grammar day 6

national grammar day 7

H/T to the following for the above memes: SocialTalent, Someecards, GeekFill, TES

And a Little Something Extra

The Reader’s Room has come up with something that may coerce me to actually watch basketball: the March Book Madness reading challenge. Hardcore readers: You don’t want to miss it.

Don’t Freak: These Grammar Rules Are Damned Confusing
February 26, 2016, 11:40 am
Filed under: Grammar, Writing Tips | Tags: , , , , ,

Grammar can be tricky. We all know the common too/two/to, their/they’re/there, its/it’s errors that drive the average grammar Nazi crazy…but the following four grammatical mistakes are others that I run across all too often.

And it must be stopped.

“You and I” May Sound Proper…but It Isn’t Always.

I vividly remember being told in elementary school that the correct way to refer to yourself and someone else was “you and I” or “he/she and I.” After a while, “you and me” just sounded wrong.

But it’s not, depending on the rest of the sentence.

A few examples:

Wrong: When I decided to go on The Bachelor, I knew Ben and me would be the perfect match.

Right: Just like I’d predicted, at the end of the rose ceremony, it was between her and me.

Wrong: The fact that you brought your bratty child over for dinner means a lot to my husband and I.


common grammar mistake example

Confused as to why some of these instances called for “me” and others required “I“? Try this quick trick: Take the other pronoun out of the sentence and see which is correct: me or I.

For example, using the first example above, if you removed “Ben” from the second part of the sentence, you’d be left with “me would be the perfect match.” Since you don’t want to sound like Tarzan, this is incorrect. “I would be the perfect match” – now we’re talking.

You Are Not Nauseous. You Are Nauseated.

The good old stomach bug or the dreaded food poisoning. Feeling sick to your stomach isn’t fun. But it doesn’t mean you’re nauseous.


The traditional definition of the word is “causing nausea.” So if you’re nauseous, you’re making someone else feel like yakking. (And you must be doing something wrong. Clean up your act.)

Instead, to state that you feel like puking, use the awkward-sounding (but technically correct) nauseated.

common grammar mistake example

It is worth noting, however, that using “nauseous” to mean feeling sick is becoming more acceptable; even Merriam-Webster has added it to their definition, for cripes’ sake.

Don’t Forget the Damned -ly.

“I wish things had turned out different.”

It’s a cliched breakup line – and a way to avoid being blunt – but it also bugs the hell out of me…because it’s missing two important letters. L. Y.

common grammar mistake adverbs and -ly

Oh, what a difference two letters make. Folks, don’t forget that those two little but oh-so-important letters are frequently required when using adverbs.*

That Which Is Not but Which Is…That or Which?

That and which are two words that many use interchangeably. But they are not interchangeable.

Instead of getting into the nitty-gritty and discussing restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses, I’ll skip ahead to a simple trick you can use to determine which word to use.

If you can delete the words that follow “which/that” and the sentence still makes sense and its meaning remains intact, use “which.” If deleting those words makes the sentence a fragment or changes its meaning, go with “that.”

Wrong: Armed with a baseball bat, he walked to the car which was parked in his driveway.

This is wrong because he could be walking up to any car with a baseball bat. In this case, the narrator is speaking specifically about the car parked in the driveway. Which car? That car.


common grammar error that versus which

The front seat is the same front seat – drenched in puke or not – so “which” is appropriate to use.

Note that when “which” is used, the phrase is set off from the sentence with commas.

Wrong: The girls who work in my office that has an incredibly cliquey vibe are kind of bitches.

Just reading that sentence starts to give me a headache. Cross out “that has an incredibly cliquey vibe,” and you’re still getting the message: Those girls are some bitches. Therefore, this sentence should be written: “The girls who work in my office, which has an incredibly cliquey vibe, are kind of bitches.”

Right: “Use the headphones that are in my desk,” she said. “They’re not sticky with ear wax.”

The speaker is clarifying that the person should use a particular set of headphones. Without “that are in my desk,” she could be referring to any pair of headphones. Which pair? That pair. (The second sentence simply provides an explanation for the speaker’s specification…it really has nothing to do with this grammar rule.**)

While we’re at it, let’s talk quickly about “who.” Use this word when referring to a person. (Easy, right?)

Wrong: The man that had given me the money started chasing me, obviously having second doubts.

A man is a person, not a thing. So refer to him like one.

Right: He ran directly into a woman who was taking her pet orangutan for a walk.

A woman is a person, not a thing. So we refer to her like one.

These are only a few of the grammar errors I run into time and time again. Which usage rules give you a hard time?

*Reminder! An adverb is a word that describes a verb or an adjective. More information on adverbs can be found here.
**Sue me! I wanted to use the phrase “ear wax.”

I May Deserve Coal…But I’m Asking Santa for This
December 1, 2015, 8:06 pm
Filed under: Books, Grammar, Literature | Tags: , , , ,

ABC Family has begun its 25 Days of Christmas hoopla, so that means one thing: It’s time to write Santa a letter. After all, the jolly guy only has so much time to gather together all of the crap everyone wants for the holidays. By putting my wish list out on the interwebs, I’m just making Santa’s job easier.

dear santa

I hope you’re feeling well and aren’t experiencing panic attacks while trying to determine how the hell you’ll be able to deliver all those presents in one night.

I’ve been a semi-good girl this year. (We could debate all night long, Mr. Claus, but time is money.) So here’s what I hope to find under my tree* on Christmas morning.

Library Due Date Card© Panties and Tank Top

library tank and undies

I’m a sucker for undies (panties is my least favorite word) with fun things on them. And what’s more fun than a library-related print?

Hamilton Bookcase

Hamilton bookcase

Since I was a child, I’ve fantasized about swinging around a library à la the candy man in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This bookcase would give me a fraction of that dream.

Poorly Drawn Lines: Good Ideas and Amazing Stories

poorly drawn lines

It’s always good to have a laugh.

T.S. Eliot Reads “The Waste Land” on Vinyl


I fell in love with T.S. Eliot in high school; he has remained my all-time favorite poet. And I’ve been a vinyl-lover since I was twelve or thirteen. So this one’s a double whammy.

Grammar Police Necklace

grammarm police necklace

I’m a little crazy about grammar. We know this.

The Great Spring: Writing, Zen, and This Zigzag Life

the great spring

Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones changed me as a writer. She’s incredible, and I can’t wait until this comes out.

The Rules of F*cking Grammar Poster

fucking rules of grammar poster

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know exactly why I want this. Strike that – why I need this.

Thanks, Santa. You’re the best.

Spill: What do you want for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or any other holiday you have coming up? Don’t be shy.

*We totally don’t have a tree. I mean, it would be one thing if we had kids, but man! Taking all those ornaments out, putting them up, and then having to reverse the process a month later…it all sounds like a lot of work. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

Wednesday Writing Motivation
October 28, 2015, 4:46 pm
Filed under: Books, Grammar, Quotes | Tags: , , , , ,

Happy Hump Day, folks!


Fine. Be that way.

Quotes to Inspire You

einstein quote

broken glass

drunk on writing

And Some Stuff to Check Out

  • The Atlantic asks if literary journals should charge writers a reading fee. I have the answer: No. Absolutely not. Read the article for the plethora of reasons.
  • Vegas as a literary destination? No, this article wasn’t published by The Onion.
  • A wonderful blogger I follow, Cindy Fazzi, wrote an ode to adverbs. I tend to hate those sneaky bastards, but you listed some killer quotes, Cindy.
  • The Reader’s Room, another awesome blog I follow, launched a monthly feature that I’m extremely upset I didn’t invent: Terrible Reviews of Great Books. You’re a genius, Jen.
  • It’s almost Halloween, and I love a good horror story. If we could be wondertwins and you can’t get enough grim gore, take Buzzfeed’s quiz and try to name the horror novel by reading one iconic line.
  • Speaking of All Hallows’ Eve, two bloggers I love – Poet Rummager and -FlyTrapMan- – are hosting Monster Masquerade, a way for monster-lovers to share their ghoulish creations. Monster Masquerade ceases to be on Halloween, so hurry and participate.
  • In case you didn’t know this about me, I love tattoos. Need proof?

tattoo proof

And you all know I love books. So of course I drooled while checking out Buzzfeed’s recent post listing thirty literary tattoos.

How’s your week going? Reading anything fascinating or – even better – writing something incredible?

Stop Being a Baby About Semicolons
September 8, 2015, 7:10 pm
Filed under: Being Awesome, Grammar, Semicolon | Tags: , , ,

Shout-out to Poet Rummager and FlyTrapMan, who were the inspiration for this (may I say humbly) awesome post.

Semicolon Post 1

Semicolons are a mystery to many, so they use them for one reason and one reason only: winking online.

Semicolon Post 2

To these dysgrammatophobic individuals, the semicolon is a strange comma-colon hybrid, and you know what they say about things that are different: run away from them. As quickly as possible.* So, instead of learning about the semicolon, they hate it. “Damn you, semicolon!” they scream, sobbing throughout the night.

Stop that crying. Katrina’s here to make all your semicolon nightmares go away.

Let’s put it in simple language, shall we? How in holy hell is the semicolon supposed to be used?

With Independent Clauses

An independent clause is a group of words that can stand alone as a sentence. A dependent clause is the opposite: a group of words that, if standing alone, wouldn’t form a complete sentence.

Where semicolons are concerned, independent clauses rock. Because otherwise, the poor semicolon would be doomed to being part of a winky-face forever.

The most common way you’ll see semicolons used (assuming you read books, articles, essays, etc.) is like this:

Independent Clause ; Independent Clause

But dependent clauses? Nope – you can’t put two dependent clauses together with a semicolon. You can’t even put a dependent clause and an independent clause together with a semicolon. Punctuation can only do so much.

But there’s a catch: the above formula only works if the two independent clauses are closely related.

A good example would be:

Semicolon Post 1st Ex

But the following are incorrect:

  • Your dad killed the werewolf; his tee time is two in the afternoon.
  • Your father murdered the werewolf neighbor; thinking about unicorns.

I’ll try to be cheerier for the next examples, but I make no promises.

In a List

This one has a big rule: only use semicolons to create a list if there’s other complex punctuation within that list. Most of the time, that complex punctuation will be the comma.

Introductory Phrase: Thing with Complex Punctuation; Thing; and Thing.

Here’s a good example:

Semicolon Post 2nd Ex

Questions? No? Good. Moving on.

With Conjunctive Adverbs/Transitional Phrases

Don’t let the jargon freak you out. It’s really pretty simple.

Independent Clause; Conjuctive Adverb or Transitional Phrase, Rest of sentence.

Conjunctive adverbs are words like “otherwise,” “however,” or “therefore.” So an example of using a semicolon with a conjunctive adverb is:

Semicolon Post 3rd Ex

Transitional phrases include “for example,” “in other words,” and “on the other hand.” Here’s an example using a semicolon and a transitional phrase:

Semicolon Post 4th Ex

Not so scary, right? (I’m referring to the semicolon, of course–not to the doll above.)

Coordinating Conjunctions

Most of the time, you won’t use semicolons with coordinating conjunctions such as “and,” “but,” or “for.”

However, you can use a semicolon rather than break the sentence into two if what’s before or after the coordinating conjunction includes complex punctuation.

No clue what I mean? Here’s an example:

Semicolon Post 5th Ex

Having a hard time keeping the conjunctive adverbs, transitional phrases, and coordinating conjunctions straight? Grammar Girl has us covered with a list of the most commonly used words/phrases of each type.

So it’s not all that terrible, right? Love the semicolon instead of fearing it. And use it. I would hate for the semicolon to go extinct (I love it almost as much as the oxford comma).

Want to see more examples of correct semicolon use, with pictures? Guaranteed to make you laugh? Then head over to one of my favorite places in cyberspace: The Oatmeal.

Project Semicolon

Project SemicolonI can’t talk about semicolons without mentioning Project Semicolon, which is pretty damned amazing. So please check it out.

Until next time.

Semicolon Post Joke

*So blatantly kidding here. But decided to include the asterisk in case my sarcasm isn’t as obvious as I think…

The Comma
August 20, 2015, 6:00 pm
Filed under: Comma, Grammar, Reblogged Content | Tags: , ,

Incredible poem about a comma, written by one of my favorite bloggers!

Be sure to check out her other stuff.

Object Relations

This is my piece, Comma, which was published with The Noctua Review


It’s the little hours I like best. In between moments of rest and wake, eyes parch like paper. Scratchy and dry they turn toward the edges of something missed by only a mark.
The Almost, but Not Quite of a woman turning her head or the skinny places where buildings almost touch. It’s the cross section between thoughts that mean something and thoughts that want to be something. They intersect, briefly touching in a fleeting moment before the intensity is too much. The period at the end of the sentence seems too final.

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A Smörgåsbord of Language, Literacy, and Literature
July 28, 2015, 7:35 pm
Filed under: Books, Grammar | Tags: , , ,

Did you miss me? (Say you did, even if you didn’t.)

Aw, how sweet! I missed you, too. It’s been a long week.

But now I’m back, with several nuggets for your enjoyment. Before we jump in, let’s have a look at a word in this post’s title.


What a weird word. It’s one of those words that, if you look at it for long enough or write it down so many times, it stops looking like a real word (even if you’re not bothering with those special letters).

But it is one! Check out the following image (thanks, Google!) to learn about the word’s roots.

smorgasbord root words

Smörgåsbord has been used in its homeland of Sweden since roughly the 14th century, and it didn’t become widely used among other nations until (according to Wikipedia, the one source you should never use as a source) the 20th century. But after five minutes of Internet searching, I couldn’t find another solid claim as to when the word was first used, spelled “smorgasbord,” in countries other than Sweden.**

On with the smorgasbord, readers. Or, as Jeopardy would call it:

jeopardy potpourri

Bill Cosby, Where’d Your Endorsements Go?

I’m sure you have, at the very least, heard about the rape allegations surrounding Bill Cosby. Chances are you’ve come across myriad headlines referring to one of the many cases.

cosby biography

Since the forty-plus allegations, Cosby has lost quite a bit of public support (boohoo). The accused rapist was dealt another blow last week when the publisher of last year’s bestselling biography Cosby: His Life and Times pulled a number of celebrity endorsements from the book. Statements were made on the behalf of Jerry Seinfeld and David Letterman requesting that their quotes be removed from the cover. The biographer, Mark Whitaker, had this to say:

I was wrong to not deal with the sexual assault charges against Cosby and pursue them more aggressively … I am following new developments and will address them at the appropriate time. If true the stories are shocking and horrible.

Mmhmm. I’ll leave my opinions about Cosby’s case (mostly) to myself.

But here’s a very interesting article relating to Cosby, if you’d like to read more.

How Often Is XYZ English Word Used?

Well, don’t ask me! I sure as H-E-double-hockey-sticks don’t know. However, your question might get answered in the below video, which was created by Abacaba using this data.

Katy Perry’s Grammar Sucks

Not very news-breaking that Perry’s tweets are riddled with grammatical errors that would make just about anyone cringe.

katy perry grammar

The offensive tweet.

Last week, BuzzFeed helped us understand what Perry was really trying to say in the above tweet by pulling out the red pen and going to town.

Needless to say, it made me very happy.

Putin Has a Book Club…

…and it is way better than Oprah’s. Because it enforces censorship, of course! Read more here and share your opinion on the literary plan Putin has put in place.

I hope you all got a chuckle or a grin out of this post. And if not, I’ll just have to try harder next time, won’t I?

**If you find an authoritative source answering the question of when smorgasbord was used for the first time outside of Sweden, I will give you something special. I’m not sure yet what it will be, but it will be freaking awesome.

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