Zephydel
 member, 664 posts
 Creative Ideas
 Real-Life Solutions
Thu 18 Nov 2021
at 04:24
Grammar Concerns
What do you call a common noun that acts like a pronoun?

Example 1: New York was attacked by Godzilla! The city is now in ruins!
Example 2: Tyrion has done it again!? How in the seven hells are my men falling for the dirty tricks of that bloody dwarf?!


Pronoun-antecedent weirdness ahead? Send help!

Example 1: The mercenaries were able to neutralize the terrorists. They were able to infiltrate their base using their cloaking devices.
liblarva
 member, 731 posts
Thu 18 Nov 2021
at 04:43
Re: Grammar Concerns
Zephydel:
What do you call a common noun that acts like a pronoun?

Example 1: New York was attacked by Godzilla! The city is now in ruins!
Example 2: Tyrion has done it again!? How in the seven hells are my men falling for the dirty tricks of that bloody dwarf?!


I'm not sure what you're asking here. There's no "common noun" being used as a pronoun here. He/she/they/it are pronouns. Those don't appear here. Godzilla is a proper noun, i.e. the name of a specific person, place, or thing. "That bloody dwarf" is an epithet. But epithets don't stand in for pronouns.

quote:

Pronoun-antecedent weirdness ahead? Send help!

Example 1: The mercenaries were able to neutralize the terrorists. They were able to infiltrate their base using their cloaking devices.


He/she/they/it applies to the most recent known noun.

So "they were able to infiltrate..."

The "they" in that sentence should be read as "the terrorists". If that's not your intent, which I suspect it's not, you should revise.

The double "their" is also confusing. You clearly mean it to read "the mercenaries were able to infiltrate the terrorists' base using the mercenaries' cloaking devices" but a grammatical reading renders the opposite.
Mad Mick
 member, 1015 posts
 GURPS beyond measure,
 outlander
Thu 18 Nov 2021
at 05:30
Re: Grammar Concerns
Cohesion doesn’t have to involve pronouns. You can use synonyms or other substitutionary language without using pronouns. “City” refers to New York, and “dwarf” refers to Tyrion, yes, but no pronouns are involved. Instead, a common noun is referring to a proper noun.

Liblarva is right on the money. A pronoun should refer to the most recently used noun, and when this pattern is not followed, the meaning may be unclear.

In these two sentences, revise them so that it is clear who is doing what:

quote:
The mercenaries were able to neutralize the terrorists by using cloaking devices to infiltrate the terrorists’ base.


However, it’s better not to repeat language in a sentence.

quote:
The notorious terrorist group Barney’s Beefcakes had launched numerous attacks from their covert base. In order to end the threat, a mercenary team was given cloaking devices to infiltrate the hidden base.


Edit: The use of pronouns, synonyms, and other cohesive devices is called anaphora: https://www.thoughtco.com/what...hora-grammar-1689093

This message was last edited by the user at 05:39, Thu 18 Nov.

Zephydel
 member, 665 posts
 Creative Ideas
 Real-Life Solutions
Thu 18 Nov 2021
at 06:28
Re: Grammar Concerns
Mad Mick:
Liblarva is right on the money. A pronoun should refer to the most recently used noun, and when this pattern is not followed, the meaning may be unclear.

I am guessing there are no exceptions to this rule because Example 1 sounds clearer than Example 2.

Example 1: The paladin used his shield to protect the thief from the warlock's flames. The paladin then gave his sealing knife to the thief and told him to sneak around, go behind the warlock, and stab him in the back.

Example 2: The paladin used his shield to protect the thief from the warlock's flames. He then gave his sealing knife to the thief and told the thief to sneak around, go behind the warlock, and stab the warlock in the back.

This message was last edited by the user at 06:28, Thu 18 Nov.

Mad Mick
 member, 1016 posts
 GURPS beyond measure,
 outlander
Thu 18 Nov 2021
at 06:38
Re: Grammar Concerns
Your first example is much clearer. When a pronoun could refer to more than one person, it's best to revise the sentence if possible. One exception might be when it is clear which pronoun refers to which noun, like in this example:

"John told Mary he saw her sneaking around after dark."
leilajohnson
 member, 1 post
Thu 18 Nov 2021
at 14:46
Grammar Concerns

This message was deleted by a moderator, as it was against the ToU, at 15:19, Thu 18 Nov.

SunRuanEr
 subscriber, 421 posts
Thu 18 Nov 2021
at 14:52
Grammar Concerns
This thread makes me weep with both joy and sorrow, because I can't even get my players to understand that sentences should usually have both a noun and a verb, much less think this much about using pronouns clearly. Bless you.
donsr
 member, 2433 posts
Thu 18 Nov 2021
at 18:54
Grammar Concerns
:;chuckles::  i was  a lit  major,  the NPCs have all manner of ways of talking, including  ways i  'invented' myself.

 This? is  not the place for Grammar, if  folks understand  what's going  on..that is first and foremost., because they are  here to have   fun.
evileeyore
 member, 589 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
 Joined 20150819
Thu 18 Nov 2021
at 19:02
Re: Grammar Concerns
Zephydel:
Mad Mick:
Liblarva is right on the money. A pronoun should refer to the most recently used noun, and when this pattern is not followed, the meaning may be unclear.

I am guessing there are no exceptions to this rule because Example 1 sounds clearer than Example 2.

Example 1: The paladin used his shield to protect the thief from the warlock's flames. The paladin then gave his sealing knife to the thief and told him to sneak around, go behind the warlock, and stab him in the back.

Example 2: The paladin used his shield to protect the thief from the warlock's flames. He then gave his sealing knife to the thief and told the thief to sneak around, go behind the warlock, and stab the warlock in the back.

The second one is perfectly clear to me as you are using a clarifier in the second one as well, "the thief", so in the second sentence you have "he", "thief", and "warlock" being identified, leaving "he" to be only applicable to one previously named individual.

And example one is also perfectly clear to me as the two 'him' are following noun identifiers.



SunRuanEr:
This thread makes me weep with both joy and sorrow, because I can't even get my players to understand that sentences should usually have both a noun and a verb, much less think this much about using pronouns clearly. Bless you.

I have GMs and Players that make my cry with their inability to be clear.  And no bones, it's never the "English is a secondary/tertiary/twelthiary language for me" GMs, it's always the 'native' English speakers.

This message was last edited by the user at 19:06, Thu 18 Nov.

Zag24
 supporter, 715 posts
Sun 21 Nov 2021
at 16:11
Grammar Concerns
I always post this in the "Game Style" thread in any game I run:

---------------------------
You should strive for decent grammar, punctuation, and spelling, though it isn't a requirement.  Remember that there are several readers of each note, but only one writer, so it makes sense for each writer to spend a little extra time to make the note easier to read.  Feel free to correct my grammar, if you can find any mistakes, but beware that such a foolish action opens the door to me correcting yours; and I have yet to be bested.  You have been warned.
---------------------------
Fyrerain
 member, 111 posts
Mon 22 Nov 2021
at 01:35
Grammar Concerns
I'm always glad to read it when a GM asks for good grammar and punctuation. I get that not everyone has full mastery of the written word, but I always avoid games where the ad has numerous grammar, spelling, and/or severe punctuation issues. If the ad is that messy, the GM's posts will be as well, and honestly, there's a limit to how hard I'll work to translate such things. Plus, when every scene and encounter relies 95% or more on being described, an inability to communicate clearly interferes with the players' ability to choose effective actions for their characters.

I don't expect perfection -- I make silly little mistakes in posting sometimes, too -- but I don't want to constantly have to translate and guess at what someone is trying to say. So, yay for clarity!
facemaker329
 member, 7368 posts
 Gaming for over 40
 years, and counting!
Tue 23 Nov 2021
at 05:13
Grammar Concerns
While I appreciate proper grammar, I don't demand it.  First off, I have no idea if the individual writing a grammatically problematic post is a native English speaker, and if they are not, I have no idea how much formal training they have in English.  Second, there are a lot of colloquial phrasings which are not grammatically correct but are still widely enough known that I know what they mean.

If the story is engaging enough, I'll slog through some pretty rough posts to stay involved (I have one GM that I routinely give a good-natured hard time...his grammar's pretty good, but his typing is atrocious.  However, he spins a very enjoyable tale and I've been in his game for several years, now.)  But, for some people, bad grammar/high typo rates/bad punctuation are deal breakers.

And that's fine.  We're all doing this for fun.  If deciphering someone's garbled post kills your sense of fun, then don't do it.  We all have our pet peeves.  When/if it peeves you enough to interfere with your enjoyment, it's time to walk away (or at least find someone to vent to.  Rough as the GM's typing is in aforementioned game, there's a player whose characters will routinely address other characters by name multiple times in the same sentence.  That makes me want to bang my head against the wall sometimes...but the GM is a very sympathetic listener when I feel like I need to sound off about it.)  There are worse things out there than bad grammar.
Gaffer
 member, 1715 posts
 Ocoee FL
 45 yrs of RPGs
Tue 23 Nov 2021
at 12:27
Grammar Concerns
The problem comes when grammar errors cause confusion that may take several posts to sort out, slowing the pace to a crawl.

As a player, I try to make sure that my posts are readily understandable.

As a Game Runner, I'll edit player posts to clarify if I anticipate a problem. Of course, when speaking as an NPC, I sometimes am deliberately obscure if it furthers the enjoyment of the story.