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Part three: Cases and Grammar Nazi Nit-Picks


Cases are, in a sort, ways of conjugating a noun – that is, defining its role in a sentence. Kind of. Not really. Well, sort of. It’s a bit swimmy, because we don’t really have them in the English language. Well, that’s a lie. We do, but they’re not very prominent. Despite this, we’re going over them anyway. Why? Because they’re big in some foreign languages and extinct languages. Why do we care? Because there will be a lesson on foreign and extinct languages in the future. But don’t worry; we will cross that bridge when we come to it. Those who couldn’t give a pair of fetid dingo’s kidneys about adding foreign languages into their stories can feel free to scroll down the page to the next bit, which is a good one, and talks about Grammar Nazis.

Nominative: Sometimes known as “subjective,” because it indicates the subject.
° I am tired.
° He went to the shop.

Accusative: Sometimes also known as “objective.” Represents the direct direction of a verb.
° He gave me this book.
° The dog chased us.

Dative: indicates the indirect direction of a verb.
° He sang to us.
° Here’s looking at you.

Ablative: Like dative, but the verb is moving away, rather than toward. Also indicates cause.
° I took the teddy bear from him.
° He took off his clothes because of the heat.

Genitive: Indicates the possessor of a noun.
° Arthur’s towel was on the floor.
° The waiter led us to our table.

Possessive: Like genitive, but indicates direct relationship with the noun.
° That book is mine.
° I believe that shoe is yours.

Vocative: Indicates an addressee.
° Arthur, did you see that?
° I don’t know what you’re on about, Ford.

Locative: indicates a location.
° Ford was not from Guilford.
° They sat in the pub.

Instrumental: Indicates that a noun is being used in action.
° He dried his face with the towel.
° He waved the book at us.

The reason we don’t really pay cases a whole lot of attention in English is because the words don’t do anything special. In German, for example, depending on the case, you will use one of the sixteen forms of “the”, with the noun itself doing any number of seemingly random things. But again, we’ll touch on that later.


Homophones: the bane of every Grammar Nazi on the interweb. Meaning literally “sounds the same”, they are those annoying words that no one ever seems to keep straight, for one reason or the other. Even the snippiest, most demanding of Grammar Nazis probably has one that, if you asked them, and if they were inclined to be completely honest, they would admit they still mix up every time. We’ll go over some common culprits.

Their - signifies ownership
° They had missed their train.
There - signifies location
° It’s right there.
They’re - contraction of “they are”
° They’re not the friendliest of people, are they?

Your - signifies ownership
° Is this your towel?
You’re - contraction of “you are”
° You’re bloody mental, mate.

To - signifies direction
° They went to the pub.
Too - also, as well
° Can we go to the pub, too?
Two - one more than one, and one less than three
° Why have you ordered two pints?

Then - signifies a progression of time
° We went to the pub, and then we came home.
Than - compares the value of two items.
° The red shirt looks better than the green one.

Its - signifies ownership
° When I got to the car, I was surprised to find that its window had been broken.
It’s - contraction of “it is”
° Of course I took my clothes off; it’s a hundred and ten degrees!

Affect - a verb. Used to describe what another verb is doing to the noun
° Pouring bleach into your radiator will affect your car’s performance.
Effect - a noun. The outcome of a verb
° Pouring bleach into the radiator had a predictable effect on the car’s performance.

Affective - driven by emotion
° This is a very affective cat.
Effective - efficient in its action.
° Cracking an egg into the radiator was surprisingly effective.

Patients - the people a doctor sees
° Doctor Hatcher had seen eight patients yesterday.
Patience - some say it’s a virtue
° The cat waited for the mouse to poke his nose out with extreme patience.

If you want to see any more added to this list, just let me know. But I’m stopping here, because I’m running out of them.

That is not a Word

There are times when it’s okay to make up words, other times when it’s questionable, and other times yet when, if you do it, you will get your head bitten off by a Grammar Nazi. In dialogue, for example; it could be a fun character trait if someone says things like “skellingtons” or “Judge Judy and executioner”. You should not, though, put those sorts of tics into the narrative.

Should of: Sometimes abbreviated to “should’uv”. That doesn’t even make any sense if you take a moment to think about it. It’s actually “should have”.

Ain’t: To be honest, I’m not entirely sure where this one even came from. But it annoys people, nonetheless. “Is not”, “isn’t”, “aren’t”, et cetera is what you should use.

Netspeak: UR, l8er, et cetera. These shouldn’t even show up in dialogue. It’s lazy, looks bad, and can be terribly confusing to some people. If you put netspeak anywhere in your story, expect your head to get bitten off.

Use and Abuse

There’s an actual term coined for fiction which abuses adverbs, adjectives, and/or a thesaurus: “purple prose”. If someone calls your prose purple, it’s very much not a compliment.

"Her golden yellow hair gently billowed in the light summer's breeze that kissed the meadow like a thousand fairies sweeping across the plane in melodious harmony, the sun glistening in her round, sapphire eyes as she..."


Adjectives and adverbs are great, when used sparingly and with respect. Generally, you want no more than one per sentence, and avoid putting them in every sentence. Every second or third, and you should be set. Yes, they do help create imagery, but if you have too much imagery, you reader will zone out and walk away.

Run-on, or Drag-on Sentences

Run-on, or drag-on sentences (depending upon regional dialect) are sentences which don’t know when to stop. Everyone’s guilty of them from time to time. As a general rule, if you’re reading your sentence aloud, and you have to pause for breath, it’s too long and should be restructured. Sometimes, it’s a matter of taking out a preposition and replacing a comma with a period, and violá! Two sentences. Prepositions, like adjectives and adverbs, have the potential to be grossly abused if you’re not paying attention. In most cases, all you need is to give your work a good once-over before considering it done.
The final lesson on contemporary grammar. Admittedly, the first half may not be useful to everybody, but it's in there for the few who will need it.
Add a Comment:
Raixander Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2013
Thank you!!!

It's very handy to save me from the grammar Nazis :-)

Forcedlactationlover Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Very good!  The second part should be mandatory reading for all aspiring 'Web' writers. We all make mistakes, but this could cut the number by about 50%. 
An easy Fave, mainly so I can recommend it to others who ask.  
Demonicsoul87 Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2010  Professional Writer

Very useful. The noun cases bring back memories of Latin class, but I have to admit that I'm out of practice with their meanings.
MetalMagpie Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2009  Hobbyist Writer
A very nicely put together little resource that I shall be faving for the #BrotherhoodofGrammar.

Ta very much. :D
bekkia Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2009
I love you for explaining all these things that I would loath explaining myself.
ML-Larson Featured By Owner Oct 31, 2009  Professional Writer
I find this sort of thing rather interesting. Drives my husband nuts, though, because I'm always correcting him. XD
reginadiedraghi Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2009
you're featured[link]
All of your writing guides have been featured
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