Grammar: Preposition Pro-Tips #1

 

Question marks

Grammar???

Preposition literally means placed before. Prepositions are critical structural words and using them correctly sometimes requires a reference. I rely on the Chicago Manual of Style, which is widely accepted as the “rulebook” for fiction writing. If you are a journalist or student, or writing for a particular academic or professional audience, a different style guide may apply, so do your research!

Many excellent style guides are available online or for low cost. Here are links to some of my favorites:

got style? by Helen Hardt

Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS)

Let’s look at a few pronouns that are commonly misused.

  • toward or towards?

Which of the following is below and why?

I walked toward the groaning zombie.

I walked towards the groaning zombie.

While the behavior might be questionable, generally American English prefers toward (no s). You can also leave the letter s off the word downward. Example:

When the author asked whether she had used the word correctly, I let her know she was wrong by pointing my thumbs downward. (Hopefully she laughed at that…)

  • inside or inside of

Inside can function as one of two different parts of speech. When inside is used as a noun, such as, “He bit the inside of his cheek,” include a prepositional phrase after it. So breaking it down looks like this:

He (noun/subject) bit (verb/action) the inside (noun object of the verb) of his jaw (prepositional phrase modifying inside).

Maybe more than you wanted to know, but it matters especially in erotic/sex scenes because inside is frequently used incorrectly.

When inside functions as a preposition itself, then do not use a second preposition.

Example (romance and erotic authors will appreciate this): I want your (fill in the blank) inside me.

Not inside of!

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