Grammar Quotes

Quotes tagged as "grammar" (showing 1-30 of 214)
Zadie Smith
“The past is always tense, the future perfect.”
Zadie Smith

Joan Didion
“Grammar is a piano I play by ear.”
Joan Didion, Joan Didion: Essays & Conversations

If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor
“If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.”
Dorothy Parker

A.A. Milne
“My spelling is Wobbly. It's good spelling but it Wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong places.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Lemony Snicket
“It is very useful, when one is young, to learn the difference between "literally" and "figuratively." If something happens literally, it actually happens; if something happens figuratively, it feels like it is happening.

If you are literally jumping for joy, for instance, it means you are leaping in the air because you are very happy. If you are figuratively jumping for joy, it means you are so happy that you could jump for joy, but are saving your energy for other matters.”
Lemony Snicket, The Bad Beginning

Douglas Adams
“One of the major problems encountered in time travel is not that of becoming your own father or mother. There is no problem in becoming your own father or mother that a broad-minded and well-adjusted family can't cope with. There is no problem with changing the course of history—the course of history does not change because it all fits together like a jigsaw. All the important changes have happened before the things they were supposed to change and it all sorts itself out in the end.

The major problem is simply one of grammar, and the main work to consult in this matter is Dr. Dan Streetmentioner's Time Traveler's Handbook of 1001 Tense Formations. It will tell you, for instance, how to describe something that was about to happen to you in the past before you avoided it by time-jumping forward two days in order to avoid it. The event will be descibed differently according to whether you are talking about it from the standpoint of your own natural time, from a time in the further future, or a time in the further past and is futher complicated by the possibility of conducting conversations while you are actually traveling from one time to another with the intention of becoming your own mother or father.

Most readers get as far as the Future Semiconditionally Modified Subinverted Plagal Past Subjunctive Intentional before giving up; and in fact in later aditions of the book all pages beyond this point have been left blank to save on printing costs.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy skips lightly over this tangle of academic abstraction, pausing only to note that the term "Future Perfect" has been abandoned since it was discovered not to be.”
Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Rainbow Rowell
“I might not use capital letters. But I would definitely use an apostrophe…and probably a period. I’m a huge fan of punctuation.”
Rainbow Rowell, Eleanor & Park

Baltasar Gracián
“A synonym is a word you use when you can't spell the other one.”
Baltasar Gracián

Edgar Allan Poe
“A man's grammar, like Caesar's wife, should not only be pure, but above suspicion of impurity.”
Edgar Allan Poe

Jennifer Crusie
“His sentences didn't seem to have any verbs, which was par for a politician. All nouns, no action. ”
Jennifer Crusie, Charlie All Night

Michel de Montaigne
“The greater part of the world's troubles are due to questions of grammar.”
Michel de Montaigne, The Complete Essays

Douglas Adams
“And all dared to brave unknown terrors, to do mighty deeds, to boldly split infinitives that no man had split before--and thus was the Empire forged.”
Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Terry Jones
“What really alarms me about President Bush's 'War on Terrorism' is the grammar. How do you wage war on an abstract noun? How is 'Terrorism' going to surrender? It's well known, in philological circles, that it's very hard for abstract nouns to surrender.”
Terry Jones

“The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.”
James D. Nicoll

Margaret Atwood
“Glenn used to say the reason you can't really imagine yourself being dead was that as soon as you say, 'I'll be dead,' you've said the word I, and so you're still alive inside the sentence. And that's how people got the idea of the immortality of the soul - it was a consequence of grammar.”
Margaret Atwood, The Year of the Flood

Lynne Truss
“The rule is: don’t use commas like a stupid person. I mean it.”
Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation

Cara Lynn Shultz
“It's hard to take someone seriously when they leave you a note saying, 'Your ugly.' My ugly what? The idiot didn't even know the difference between your and you're.”
Cara Lynn Shultz, Spellcaster

Christopher Moore
“This is a bawdy tale. Herein you will find gratuitous shagging, murder, spanking, maiming, treason, and heretofore unexplored heights of vulgarity and profanity, as well as non-traditional grammar, split infinitives, and the odd wank.”
Christopher Moore, Fool

Gilles Deleuze
“Forming grammatically correct sentences is for the normal individual the prerequisite for any submission to social laws. No one is supposed to be ignorant of grammaticality; those who are belong in special institutions. The unity of language is fundamentally political.”
Gilles Deleuze, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia

“If you can spell "Nietzsche" without Google, you deserve a cookie.”
Lauren Leto

Jasper Fforde
“Ill-fitting grammar are like ill-fitting shoes. You can get used to it for a bit, but then one day your toes fall off and you can't walk to the bathroom.”
Jasper Fforde, One of Our Thursdays Is Missing

Winston S. Churchill
“This is the type of arrant pedantry up with which I will not put.”
Winston S. Churchill

David Ogilvy
“I don't know the rules of grammar. If you're trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language.”
David Ogilvy

Rachel Caine
“I have no idea what that is, but yawn, anyway, just on principle. Eat up. Pancakes is brain food.
Apparently not grammar food.
Wow.You college girls are mean.”
Rachel Caine, Bite Club

Mignon Fogarty
“I love you. You are the object of my affection and the object of my sentence.”
Mignon Fogarty, Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing

Lynne Truss
“What the semicolon's anxious supporters fret about is the tendency of contemporary writers to use a dash instead of a semicolon and thus precipitate the end of the world. Are they being alarmist?”
Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation

Gertrude Stein
“I really do not know that anything has ever been more exciting than diagramming sentences.”
Gertrude Stein, Lectures in America

Stephen Hawking
“We got through all of Genesis and part of Exodus before I left. One of the main things I was taught from this was not to begin a sentence with And. I pointed out that most sentences in the Bible began with And, but I was told that English had changed since the time of King James. In that case, I argued, why make us read the Bible? But it was in vain. Robert Graves was very keen on the symbolism and mysticism in the Bible at that time.”
Stephen Hawking, Black Holes and Baby Universes

Jerry Spinelli
“Vowels were something else. He didn't like them and they didn't like him. There were only five of them, but they seemed to be everywhere. Why, you could go through twenty words without bumping into some of the shyer consonants, but it seemed as if you couldn't tiptoe past a syllable without waking up a vowel. Consonants, you know pretty much where you stood, but you could never trust a vowel.”
Jerry Spinelli, Maniac Magee

Roman Payne
“I ran across an excerpt today (in English translation) of some dialogue/narration from the modern popular writer, Paulo Coelho in his book: Aleph.(Note: bracketed text is mine.)... 'I spoke to three scholars,' [the character says 'at last.'] ...two of them said that, after death, the [sic (misprint, fault of the publisher)] just go to Paradise. The third one, though, told me to consult some verses from the Koran. [end quote]' ...I can see that he's excited. [narrator]' ...Now I have many positive things to say about Coelho: He is respectable, inspiring as a man, a truth-seeker, and an appealing writer; but one should hesitate to call him a 'literary' writer based on this quote. A 'literary' author knows that a character's excitement should be 'shown' in his or her dialogue and not in the narrator's commentary on it. Advice for Coelho: Remove the 'I can see that he's excited' sentence and show his excitement in the phrasing of his quote.(Now, in defense of Coelho, I am firmly of the opinion, having myself written plenty of prose that is flawed, that a novelist should be forgiven for slipping here and there.)Lastly, it appears that a belief in reincarnation is of great interest to Mr. Coelho ... Just think! He is a man who has achieved, (as Leonard Cohen would call it), 'a remote human possibility.' He has won lots of fame and tons of money. And yet, how his preoccupation with reincarnation—none other than an interest in being born again as somebody else—suggests that he is not happy!”
Roman Payne

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