Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Emphasis, Interjections, Sat/Set, Lay/Lie

One thing I’ve had difficulty figuring out in my writing is how to give emphasis to a sentence. You know the one which is a command spoken, not yelled but needs to be portrayed as firm and demanding
There is always the; he gritted out between his teeth. Or maybe; with his eyed backing up the force of his words. Things like that. Recently however, I’ve seen a very effective way which I hadn’t either seen or noticed before. It’s periods after each word.

Do. Not. Say. Another. Word.

Wow. That really gets the point across. No need for any adjectives there. I can just see the fire in the eyes, the gritted teeth. How great to make the point of the emotion with just a few dots.

Another area which I find myself needing variety is expressive interjections. Those little words we use in conversation but that we have trouble spelling. Ack, Mm-hmm, Yay, Pfft. Well, I found a blog post which gives 100 of them.

I didn’t know how to spell the sound for a raspberry. You know the sound that you make when you put your tongue between your lips and blow. Even babies can do this at a very young age, but how do you spell it? Pfft or Pfff. Personally I like it with a ’t’ on the end but that’s just me.

I don’t understand some of the problems writers have with correct verb tense and have written posts concerning them before. Well, here are a couple of more. Hope they help.

Set verses Sat

People sit — things are set. Pretty simple. A person can sit down or have sat down. They can’t have set down. Most people don’t have trouble with this.

Set on the other hand seems to be a problem. I’ve seen sentences sort of like this: He sat the lamp on the table. Okay, is the lamp a person or a thing? So the correct word should have been set. He set the lamp on the table.

Now there is a time when you do use sat for a thing. It’s in description. The lamp sat on the table. It is describing where the lamp is. It isn’t an action which is what the verb ‘to set’ is. It’s the action which dictates whether set or sat is used with a thing.

Chickens lay eggs, people lie down.

This was a pet peeve of my father. He was a physician and said it was no wonder people wouldn’t lie down on a gurney when they were told to lay down because chickens lay eggs and people lie down.

Maybe American English has changed and allows the verb ‘to lay’ to be used with people. It seems to be quite common in spoken and written language. I prefer to use lie for people rather than lay. But it is more complicated. There are forms of lay that are used with people. Much of it comes with context.

He lay on the bed. You wouldn’t say; He lied on the bed.  
He was lying on the bed.
You don’t say; He was laying on the bed.
She told her son to lie on the bed.
You don’t say; She told her son to lay on the bed.

Again it’s a people verses thing concept.

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