Where Did I Put My Tiara

The life unglamorous . . .

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Location: Utah, United States

see biography at http://www.marjoriejones.com

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Slobbering, my dog lumbered out of the room.

The title of this entry is a true story.  I have mastiffs, and good ol' Pistol Pete just dripped his way across my living room to promptly heave his ummm... massive self onto my sofa.  If I ever get nice living room furniture, we're going to have to break him of that.
Additionally, the title of this blog is an example of one of our sinister broken rules.
Never begin a sentence with an 'ing' word, otherwise known as a gerund.
To understand this 'schmule', we must first know what a gerund is.  A gerund is a verb, ending in the those three wicked little letters I N G, and used as a noun.  Simple.  Every website I visited had essentially the same definition.
So, take a look at the title of this blog entry.  Is "slobbering" a noun?  I don't think it is.  The more I look at it, I can't assign it a person, place or thing definition.  I suppose I could stretch it and say it's a thing, but I'm not convinced.  "Slobbering" in this instance is a verb, pure a simple.  It's an action.  So it's not a gerund, anyway.  Is this infamous rule that we can't start sentences with ING words, or gerunds?
Next point.  On every website I visited (and mind you, I didn't read every word on every page), I found reference to the fact that a gerund can be the subject of a sentence. 
Example:  Finding a needle in a haystack would be easier than what we're trying to do.
I stole this example from the Purdue Online Writing Lab, but you can plainly see that the gerund 'finding' and 'a needle' enhance one another.  "A needle" is the direct object of "finding".   This sentence is grammatically correct.  If its grammatically correct, then we can use it in our writing.  In this particular case, the sentence is awkward and clumsy, and I would choose to write : "It would be easier to find a needle in a haystack," but that's an awkward and clumsy choice, not a grammar choice.
I'm fairly sure that many of the hits we receive in contests or from crit partners, however, refer to the first example.  (Yep, Pete is still sprawled out all over my sofa.)   A writer with little or no more experience than ourselves comes along and says that we can't start a sentence with a gerund (or any ing word), and they strike out the poor slobbering dog. 
The fact is, you can start your sentences however you want to.  You can have gerunds in your manuscript.  Like everything else, use moderation and your best judgement.  It really is that simple.  Vary your sentence structure.  Don't start EVERY sentence with a gerund. 
And for heaven's sake, don't over analyze!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a great example of knowing your grammar as well as the rules. Imagine if you misplaced a comma: Slobbering, my dog, lumbered out of the room.

The reader would think Slobbering was your dog's name!

I guess my point is to know the rules, grammar or otherwise, and know when to break them.

Of course I'm notorious for breaking the rules. Hate them!

Hmmm. Now I'm wondering if Pistol Pete's name should be changed to Slobbering?

2:56 PM  
Blogger Suprina said...

This is kinda off subject, but applicable to the author of this blog.

Marjorie, please check your blog links. I tried to access your website from your blog and it kicked me completely off the internet. I also tried typing it in directly and it still kicked me off.

Maybe it's just my computer. Anyway, I want you to be aware of the situation in case anyone else is having a problem.

5:21 PM  
Blogger Marjorie Jones said...

Thanks Suprina.

If anyone else has problems, please let me know. I tried it and it worked okay for me. I host offsite, so I go through the same channels as anyone else when I click on the links. Odd. Sorry about that :(

5:40 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Thrilling! Marjorie has a blog! LOL
Can now haunt it and post silly comments in the taggy place!
A mstif is Huge!
We have a labrador and a Dachshund - and they take up quite enough space as it is!

12:14 AM  
Blogger Marjorie Jones said...

Hey Sam!

errr... do I have a taggy place? How do I get one?


8:20 AM  

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