It is the season.

Snowy Landscape by Priyanka Mehta.

A holiday grammar carol.

December isn’t always full of happiness, snow, hot chocolate and presents. Some of us have to write. Here’s a grammar carol that reflects what professional writers have to be mindful of whenever they put fingers to keyboard, no matter the season. Merry Christmas and happy holidays!


Grammar and punctuation are great
Until you get down to writing;
Before you get comfortable, wait—
Some arbitrary rules are a-waiting.

Beware misplaced-modifier whammies,
Except while creating jokes as such:
Anastasia saw an owl in her jammies;
She didn’t know PJs could shrink so much.

Anuraag has more sweaters than she and I;
This gift is from Catalina and me.
And remember, for everything you write,
That context and circumstance are key.

If Hanan’s and Holly’s eyes are brown,
It means they each have brown eyes;
If Hanan and Holly’s eyes are brown,
It means they together own brown eyes.

Brown eyes in a jar.

But “The alot ate Isaac’s and Jordan’s tree” means
This resourceful creature ate their tree;
“The alot ate Isaac and Jordan’s tree” means
Jordan’s tree and Isaac are now debris.

Jodi thinks—and knows—snow days are great.
Although em dashes are loved and banal,
Use commas or colons instead;
Em dashes (surprise!) are informal.

“All the eggnog Kevin had had had
No effect on his deliriousness.”
This structure, though correct, is just bad—
Never use it; it causes distress.

I before e except after c,
And except on a weird heist
With your feisty neighbour Manasi
On foreign land for a leisurely tryst.

i before e except after c? weird.

Avoid annoying alliterations:
Priyanka plated pecan praline.”
Don’t end sentences with prepositions:
Rebecca has books to write poetry in.”

Check SEO: “Sayyeda’s red lipsticks,”
But don’t make headlines clickbaity.
Avoid clichés, even just for kicks:
Shagufta’s math skills did a one-eighty.”

Use Oxford commas, or don’t (stick with one):
Simon likes music, Quidditch(,) and quiche.”
Is it the 90s or the 90’s? None;
Stuart is a nineties kid on fleek.”

Wonder whether you’ve been sloppy or nice,
Surrounded by candy and gifts?
Remember, as you fix that comma splice,
That the Grammar Grinch is miffed.

Featured image by Priyanka Mehta.

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