Can you comment on grammar and style?

by Sonya Kar
29th May 2013

English is not my native language and so I worry that some of the strange use I have put to the language below is emerging Author's voice, (which I don't want to suppress), or just plain bad English. Please could you help me with these examples below and tell me what you prefer or how you would re-word it?

1. Every day, for someone, somewhere in the world- ‘today’ metamorphoses into ‘the’ day: too much use of the word day in this sentence?

2. we don’t often speak when he is traveling and when we do, one, or the both of us, are so tired, that it is a short conversation: are so tired or is so tired? Awkward sentence that I should reword?

3. Despite abjectly missing each other when we were apart, our reunions were fraught with tension, as though our lack of contact for weeks meant we had to relearn contours that had once been familiar/meant we had forgotten what had once been familiar and delightful: which alternate ending to the sentence do you prefer?

4. I freeze him with a glare of eye and contemptuous curl of lip, and he leaps back at my hostile expression.: delete ‘of eye’ from sentence and awkward use of language? I want to keep ‘of eye’ even if slightly ungrammatical as it is in sync with curl of lip

5. with a strange gleam in his eye.: Strange gleam to his eye? Which one?

6. Perched between his mother and me in the backseat: Perched between his mother and I?

Replies

Emma, victoria, Alice, David-thanks for all your responses. I am going to take time to digest yours David and I will incorporate some of yours Emma.

Mary, English is not the native language of many people in this world, and yet it is their first language. As they grow up in different parts of the world, they speak a style which is distinct to the region they come from. This applies to me, but I would like to flatter myself in thinking I can still write fairly well and am open to criticism. I am most certainly not going to stop writing in English. I am just about to re-draft a novel, so doing that now would imply a craziness I would not yet attribute to myself.

Al, funnily, you seem to have got exactly what I was looking for. Thank you. I like all your suggestions and am going to rush to apply them right now. Thanks for the comment on point 3, and also the nice rewording for point 2. And allowing me to be slightly ungrammatical in point 4-I just want to go with that now, and as David says, if the meaning is conveyed-that is enough. Thanks again everyone, appreciate it.

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Sonya
Kar
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Sonya Kar
30/05/2013

1. Every day, for someone, somewhere in the world- ‘today’ metamorphoses into ‘the’ day: too much use of the word day in this sentence?

No, but I would alter punctuation to:

Every day, for someone somewhere in the world, ‘today’ metamorphoses into ‘The Day’.

2. we don’t often speak when he is traveling and when we do, one, or the both of us, are so tired, that it is a short conversation: are so tired or is so tired? Awkward sentence that I should reword?

Yes:

When he is traveling we don’t speak often. When we do, with one or the both of us being so tired, it is a short conversation.

3. Despite abjectly missing each other when we were apart, our reunions were fraught with tension, as though our lack of contact for weeks meant we had to relearn contours that had once been familiar/meant we had forgotten what had once been familiar and delightful: which alternate ending to the sentence do you prefer?

The first. I think it is more ambiguous, allowing your readers their own interpretation. Nice choice of words!

4. I freeze him with a glare of eye and contemptuous curl of lip, and he leaps back at my hostile expression.: delete ‘of eye’ from sentence and awkward use of language? I want to keep ‘of eye’ even if slightly ungrammatical as it is in sync with curl of lip

Is he frozen or leaping back?? Glare of eye is fine.

5. with a strange gleam in his eye.: Strange gleam to his eye? Which one?

In.

6. Perched between his mother and me in the backseat: Perched between his mother and I?

I. But perhaps only because I am English...

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Al Sendall
29/05/2013

You say English is not your native language and this is clear from some of the examples you give. Wouldn't it be better to write in your native language? Not only would it be easier for you, your readers would find it easier to follow and you would increase your chances of publication if this is your ultimate aim.

On the other hand If you just want to improve your English grammar I am sure there are websites and online courses that concentrate on this.

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Mary Hodges
29/05/2013