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    #1

    Correct words are like politically correct?

    I understand the sentence should be in some sort of understanding, subject and predicate wise. But with hundreds of synonyms to choose from which one is correct? There are many ways to apply the subject and predicate in a sentence. Like "The cat sat on the mat,or the mat is were the cat sat". Cat being the subject and mat the predicate. Cannot the writer step aside grammar to voice his/her voice?

  1. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Correct words are like politically correct?

    "Cat" is the subject of your first sentence. The predicate is "sat on the mat". "Mat is the subject of your second sentence. The predicate is "is where the cat sat". A writer can do whatever he/she wants, but without correct grammar, the writing/speech is likely to be discounted.

  2. Skrej's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Correct words are like politically correct?

    You misspelled 'where', but yes, you could say both "The cat sat on the mat." or "The mat is where the cat sat."

    Yes, writers, especially poets, often take liberties with grammar or 'normal' language usage. To take you example further you could say "On the mat is where the cat sat. " That of course wouldn't be natural speech, but you as a writer might well make that choice for a particular reason.

    I think you worry too much about grammar as a starting point for writing. Writing is about saying what you want to share with the reader. If there are deliberate grammatical variations made as an obviously intended choice, then that's fair game. However, if it's just careless misspelling or unintentional grammatical errors, then it isn't acceptable.

    Unless you're writing technical manuals, then writing is about imagery, not grammar. As long as you can justify deviations from 'correct' English as intentional, deliberately made choices in order to further that imagery, then you're free to bend or break grammatical conventions. It just needs to be obvious to the reader that there was a valid reason for doing so, not just because the writer is lazy or careless.

    For example, read any of the books by Dr. Seuss. His books kind of straddle the line between poetry and fiction. They contain all kinds of grammatical errors, but they're obviously done for a reason - he's trying to maintain a certain rhythm, or rhyming pattern, mostly because he's writing for children. He wanted the books to sound fun.

    Now, if I were to take out my red pen and start making proofreading marks on any Dr. Seuss book, I'd probably run out of red ink, and they're short books!

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    #4

    Re: Correct words are like politically correct?

    Also, regarding your question about the 'correct' synonym - the 'correct' one is the one that best suits the mood or voice of the story. Grammatically they might all work, but some will obviously fit the scene better.

    Consider the following. Maybe I'm writing a story which has an evil villain. I want to write a sentence where the crazy villain laughs at the evil thing he's done.

    Here's my plain vanilla sentence:

    The evil villain laughed crazily. (This is okay, but not very interesting.)


    Now let's play with some synonyms for 'laugh'. I'll list a few and we'll see how they work: snort, cackle, whoop, giggle, chuckle.

    Plug those into our sentence and see the differences in imagery. Some will work better than others.

    The evil villain laughed crazily. (boring, as we said)
    The evil villain snorted crazily. (a snort is a small restrained laugh = we want a big crazy laugh for this pivotal scene)
    The evil villain cackled crazily. (cackle gives a sense of madness, which goes along with 'crazy'.)
    The evil villain whooped crazily. (guffaw conflicts with evil and crazy. He's insane, not a clown or a comedian)
    The evil villain giggled crazily. (works with 'crazy', since we normally don't think of grown men giggling, bit it still conflicts a bit with 'evil')
    The evil villain chucked crazily. (suggests mild, benevolent amusement - not what we want. Also clashes with crazy )

    Of these, 'cackle' seems the best synonym for 'laugh' for the image we want to convery.

    So, let's go with 'The evil villain cackled crazily.'

    I could then start playing with synonyms for evil or crazily. But he's a villain, so 'evil' is redundant by definition of 'villain', and we don't really even need it. Let's just take it out entirely. A synonym for 'crazy' is insane', so I'm going to try 'insanely' in place of 'crazily'.

    The villain cackled insanely.

    Basically the same information as 'The crazy villain laughed evilly', but it paints a more concise, vivid image.

    So, for our needs in this story, 'cackle' seems like the best synonym for 'laugh'. Change the scene, and it's no longer the best choice.

    A group of young girls having fun would be more likely to 'giggle merrily' than 'cackle insanely', even though from a purely grammatical standpoint both are correct and have synonymous verbs.

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    #5

    Re: Correct words are like politically correct?

    Excellent reply.

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