Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Past Progressive Tense (Part 5 of 9)

The past progressive is also called the imperfect. Past progressive refers to a past activity that goes on when another action occurs. Or it can describe an event that doesn't have a specified conclusion.

* At noon, I was eating lunch and the phone rang.

* She was planning next month's blog entries when she started to look for a new job.

* Before his father's illness, Sarah was anticipating the holidays. 

I remind myself that
the past progressive tense is imperfect—
it's not completed or is interrupted.

* * * * *

Cecil Murphey's Writer to Writer Conference will be held January 16-18, 2015, at the Hershey Lodge in Hershey, PA, prior to the Munce Group Christian Product Expo (CPE). Faculty includes Cec, Jerry Jenkins, and Shawn and Suzanne Kuhn (SuzyQ). For more information, visit www.writertowriter.com.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Progressive Tense (Part 4 of 9)

I'm tired of seeing the progressive tense misused. The progressive tense indicates continuing (therefore progressive) action. It is going on now. To make the progressive form of the present tense, use a form of be and add -ing to the verb.

My rule is that if you can substitute in the process of and have the same meaning, you're probably correct.

* Diana is expecting to see him today.

* Ian is buying his Christmas gifts this week.

* Twila is walking three miles every day, while Shawn is running five miles a day.

* Nelda is getting married in three months. Wrong: There is no continuing action and she's not in the process of getting married. Correct: Nelda will marry (or get married) in three months.

When I use the progressive tense,
I refer to ongoing action.

* * * * *

Cecil Murphey's Writer to Writer Conference will be held January 16-18, 2015, at the Hershey Lodge in Hershey, PA, prior to the Munce Group Christian Product Expo (CPE). Faculty includes Cec, Jerry Jenkins, and Shawn and Suzanne Kuhn (SuzyQ). For more information, visit www.writertowriter.com.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Three Perfect Tenses (Part 3 of 9)

The perfect tenses all take a form of have (has, had) and a past participle. They indicate action that was or will be completed by a specific time or by the time of another action.

Present perfect:

* Henry has already written next month's blogs. 

* Ellie has searched for the Word document every day this week. 

Past perfect:

* By the time of Henry's vacation, he will already have written four blogs. 

* Ellie had searched for the Word document several times before she found it.

Future perfect:

* By the end of July, Henry will have planned December's blogs. 

* After Ellie checks the computer room, she will have searched everywhere.

I'll remember that perfect means completed.

* * * * *

Cecil Murphey's Writer to Writer Conference will be held January 16-18, 2015, at the Hershey Lodge in Hershey, PA, prior to the Munce Group Christian Product Expo (CPE). Faculty includes Cec, Jerry Jenkins, and Shawn and Suzanne Kuhn (SuzyQ). For more information, visit www.writertowriter.com.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Past Perfect Tense (Part 2 of 9)

Most writers have little trouble with the present, future, or simple past tense. However, the past perfect seems to bewilder many.

1. The past perfect tense refers to action done in the past.

* They had cashed their checks before they bought groceries. (Cashing checks was completed before they spent the money.)

* After we had mixed the formula, we waited for it to cool.

2. The past perfect tense can refer to action completed but it also relates to the present.

* I had been preparing for my speech when Jason knocked.

* By the time Eldon resigned, he had already prepared the next marketing strategy.

Another way to say it is that past perfect describes an action that was completed before another past action took place. We always indicate past perfect with a helping verb, has or had.

When I refer to a completed action of the past, 
I remember to use has or had.

* * * * *

Cecil Murphey's Writer to Writer Conference will be held January 16-18, 2015, at the Hershey Lodge in Hershey, PA, prior to the Munce Group Christian Product Expo (CPE). Faculty includes Cec, Jerry Jenkins, and Shawn and Suzanne Kuhn (SuzyQ). For more information, visit www.writertowriter.com.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Using Tenses Correctly (Part 1 of 9)

In English, we have three simple tenses that place action in the present, past, or future.

Present: Melvin seems happy today.

Past: Melvin looked depressed yesterday.

Future: Melvin will look different after his surgery. (Note that the future tense has a helping verb/modal auxiliary, usually will.)

The simple present and past tenses don't use a helping verb. The simple present tense means actions occurring now or habitually. The simple past means actions completed at a specific time in the past.

To write well, I need to understand tenses.

* * * * *

Cecil Murphey's Writer to Writer Conference will be held January 16-18, 2015, at the Hershey Lodge in Hershey, PA, prior to the Munce Group Christian Product Expo (CPE). Faculty includes Cec, Jerry Jenkins, and Shawn and Suzanne Kuhn (SuzyQ). For more information, visit www.writertowriter.com.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Plagiarism and Other Legal Tangles (Part 11 of 11)

Poetry, music, and books in the public domain

Without explaining the reasons, take this as your guide for quoting from poetry or music. Never quote from them without permission. Here's an online source you can check.[1]

If you quote from the Bible, again, read the copyright page; however, most publishers are quite liberal in the number of verses you can use—providing you cite the translation. (It's free advertisement for the publisher.)

One other important fact is the public domain. If you cite anything, including poetry and music that was copyrighted before 1923, you're safe. Even so, I like to footnote it with "in the public domain." 

[1] http://fairuse.stanford.edu/overview/fair-use/four-factors/

* * * * *
Cecil Murphey's Writer to Writer Conference will take place January 16-18, 2015, at the Hershey Lodge in Hershey, PA, prior to the Munce Group Christian Product Expo (CPE). Faculty includes Cec, Jerry Jenkins, and Shawn and Suzanne Kuhn (SuzyQ). For more information, visit www.writertowriter.com

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Plagiarism and Other Legal Tangles (Part 10 of 11)

How much can you quote without getting permission? That's the question that doesn't have a strict answer. This is the area we call "fair use" and it can get extremely complicated.

One source says quoting fewer than fifty words from an article or 300 from a book. "You'll need the copyright holder's permission to use any longer quotation from an article or a book."[1]

The same book says about online sources, "There is less consensus about fair use. . . To play it safe, seek permission for any text quotation that represents more than a small portion of the whole.”[2]

This is too complicated for a blog, and fair use isn't a settled issue. When I was in graduate school, we were told we could use 500 words without permission. (Note above they say 300.)

If you're not sure, read the copyright page of the book from which you cite. Unless it's self-published, you will see how much you may quote.

[1] The Little, Brown Handbook, eighth Edition, by H. Ramsey Fowler, and Jane E. Aaron, (Boston: Little, Brown, 2001) p 691

[2] ibid

* * * * *
Cecil Murphey's Writer to Writer Conference will take place January 16-18, 2015, at the Hershey Lodge in Hershey, PA, prior to the Munce Group Christian Product Expo (CPE). Faculty includes Cec, Jerry Jenkins, and Shawn and Suzanne Kuhn (SuzyQ). For more information, visit www.writertowriter.com.