Sequential Phrase Grammar


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Thread: Sequential Phrase Grammar

  1. #1

    Sequential Phrase Grammar

    I posted on this last Feb. Now I have a showable book on this topic. English has rules for connecting phrases. But you can throw away the rules and write just phrases. (Hence the name, all that remains is a sequence of phrases.) The reader will understand, because there's no conventions to learn.

    This is in a sense the hidden grammar of English. It's also a very interesting way to write, with a lot of possibilities.

    My book describes the techniques for using this grammar well, such as avoiding embedded phrases and commas within phrases. There's a simple grammar of phrases, separators, and connectors, and my book talks about possibilities and options for those.

    Anyway, if anyone wants to look at it, let me know.
    Looking for people to beta a chapter or more of my book Modern Punctuation and Grammar: Tools for Better Writing. Go Hidden Content
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  2. #2
    Can you give us an example of this grammar perhaps?
    "He slides into second with a stand-up double." - Jerry Coleman
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    "After Jackie Robinson, the most important black in baseball history is Reggie Jackson." - Reggie Jackson
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  3. #3
    There is no such thing as 'sequential phrase grammar', there's just grammar. Two versions, good and bad.
    Last edited by Terry D; October 23rd, 2016 at 06:49 AM.
    “Fools” said I, “You do not know
    Silence like a cancer grows
    Hear my words that I might teach you
    Take my arms that I might reach you”
    But my words like silent raindrops fell
    And echoed in the wells of silence : Simon & Garfunkel


    Those who enjoy stirring the chamber-pot should be required to lick the spoon.

    Our job as writers is to make readers dream, to infiltrate their minds with our words and create a new reality; a reality not theirs, and not ours, but a new, unique combination of both.

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  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Ptolemy View Post
    Can you give us an example of this grammar perhaps?
    It might be easier to tell than show, but certainly I can try. What it's not:

    James, who's nearest to the door, looks at me.
    The phrase "James looks at me" is interrupted.

    It doesn't have to be ungrammatical, but it often comes out that way. Two examples:
    "Evolution?"

    I think about her question, nothing comes to mind, 'cept for the obvious of course, and I want to just eat my cereal and not answer, but that seems like a bad choice, marital-wise, 'specially with her sitting there, newspaper in hand, looking at me and waiting for an answer, so I dredge up the best reply I can. "Yeah?"
    Norm appears next to me, like he does every year. Funny how dying on the same day and being buried in the same cemetery could tie two guys together, but there it is -- Norm saying hi, Norm asking about my afterlife, us shaking hands, then Norm and me sitting on the hill, sitting and sitting, sharing stories, watching, waiting. Wondering.

    A car, Wendy's car, we both recognize it, and Norm goes racing down the hill, even though there's no hurry, but this is his one day every year to see his wife, so he's excited. Me following, more leisurely, by the time I get there Norm is lying face-up on his grave.
    Looking for people to beta a chapter or more of my book Modern Punctuation and Grammar: Tools for Better Writing. Go Hidden Content
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  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Terry D View Post
    There is no such thing as 'sequential phrase grammar', there's just grammar. Two versions, good and bad.
    To me, there's more than one grammar. The obvious example is French versus English versus Chinese, but infants have their own grammar, as do pidgin languages.

    I know you don't like me to make up names, but I can't see an alternative. To talk about connecting phrases, I first needed what I call English Grammar -- the rules you find in books and the internet. There's good consensus. For example, fragments are ungrammatical.

    I call Writer's Grammar the grammar that writers commonly use and is not jarring. For example, most authors use fragments, and I think they are an important part of good writing.

    Sequential Phrase Grammar is neither of these. It's easily defined. I can write in it, readers can understand it, I can describes rules and strategies for writing it. I liked your idea that it doesn't exist, because it doesn't have any rules and is the lack of conventional agreements. But I decided it existed.
    Looking for people to beta a chapter or more of my book Modern Punctuation and Grammar: Tools for Better Writing. Go Hidden Content
    As always, useful information you can't find anywhere else.

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  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by EmmaSohan View Post
    To me, there's more than one grammar. The obvious example is French versus English versus Chinese, but infants have their own grammar, as do pidgin languages.
    We aren't talking about writing in French, or Chinese (if we were we'd be talking about the grammar which applies to those languages). Nor are we talking about writing for infants, or pidgin; we are talking about writing in English, and English has its grammatical rules (which we often break consciously, or not). There aren't different types of grammar.

    I know you don't like me to make up names, but I can't see an alternative. To talk about connecting phrases, I first needed what I call English Grammar -- the rules you find in books and the internet. There's good consensus. For example, fragments are ungrammatical.

    I call Writer's Grammar the grammar that writers commonly use and is not jarring. For example, most authors use fragments, and I think they are an important part of good writing.

    Sequential Phrase Grammar is neither of these. It's easily defined. I can write in it, readers can understand it, I can describes rules and strategies for writing it. I liked your idea that it doesn't exist, because it doesn't have any rules and is the lack of conventional agreements. But I decided it existed.
    What I don't like is your penchant for making the whole process needlessly complicated. You cannot define when, or how, to deviate from standard English grammar to achieve a desired effect; that's part of a writer developing his/her own voice. I would say nothing, and let you play in your grammatical sandbox all day long, except there are lots of new writers who come here looking to learn the mechanics of writing and what they find can be confusing enough without someone inventing new names for old strategies. You are not uncovering anything new, and you certainly are not covering old ground in a way which makes it more clear for those just starting out. It's my opinion that your game of 'name-that-grammar' has the potential to do far more harm than good.
    “Fools” said I, “You do not know
    Silence like a cancer grows
    Hear my words that I might teach you
    Take my arms that I might reach you”
    But my words like silent raindrops fell
    And echoed in the wells of silence : Simon & Garfunkel


    Those who enjoy stirring the chamber-pot should be required to lick the spoon.

    Our job as writers is to make readers dream, to infiltrate their minds with our words and create a new reality; a reality not theirs, and not ours, but a new, unique combination of both.

    Visit Amazon and the Kindle Store to check out Reflections in a Black Mirror, and Chase

    Hidden Content






  7. #7
    Danger? Beginning writers might think that if their sentence is grammatically correct, they are done. That's dangerous. Punctuation and grammar are tools for communicating effectively. A writer has lots of choices. Finding the best choice is a skill.

    Danger is thinking that you (any writer) have all the tools of punctuation and grammar and don't need to learn any more. Yes, use your intuition, but when does that help you learn new punctuation and grammar skills?

    So, I worry that simplifications like saying there's only good and bad grammar, or saying English has grammatical rules, are dangerous.

    I have a penchant for making the whole process needlessly complicated? Laughing. Terry, you might be right about that. Sam said if there was a badge for over-analyzing, I would get it.

    But almost every thing I learn about grammar proves to be useful, sooner or later. It's 18K to get through what I call a thorough description of SePG. If you never use SePG, then all you get out of it is comments about easy reading. If you eventually write a paragraph or two of SePG, is that worth it? Yes, for me. Maybe for others? But it's also a really fun way to write. Did I say that?
    Looking for people to beta a chapter or more of my book Modern Punctuation and Grammar: Tools for Better Writing. Go Hidden Content
    As always, useful information you can't find anywhere else.

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  8. #8
    Given that Terry could be right and thinking about different ways of writing might not be useful for a lot of writers, but anyway . . . I should have said:

    I think, if you take SePG seriously, it's a different way of thinking about writing and communicating -- as a sequence of images.

    It's a different way of thinking about basic concepts in grammar, because the terms are more primitive and fundamental (phrases, connectors, separators).

    At the nuts-and-bolts level, it's an entry into issues. Such as progressive versus direct verbs or pronoun dropping.

    Happy to explain! Happy if other people want to criticize more! I know it tends to be a conversation killer.


    When I get home after school, My Father's Wife is waiting for me. I forgot about her. Isn't she supposed to be working?

    Walking into the house after school, ah shit, I forgot about My Father's Wife, I never expected her to be waiting for me, an ambush, isn't she supposed to be working?
    Last edited by TheWonderingNovice; October 26th, 2016 at 08:30 PM.
    Looking for people to beta a chapter or more of my book Modern Punctuation and Grammar: Tools for Better Writing. Go Hidden Content
    As always, useful information you can't find anywhere else.

    Hidden Content

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by EmmaSohan View Post
    Given that Terry could be right and thinking about different ways of writing might not be useful for a lot of writers, but anyway . . . I should have said:

    I think, if you take SePG seriously, it's a different way of thinking about writing and communicating -- as a sequence of images.

    It's a different way of thinking about basic concepts in grammar, because the terms are more primitive and fundamental (phrases, connectors, separators).

    At the nuts-and-bolts level, it's an entry into issues. Such as progressive versus direct verbs or pronoun dropping.

    Happy to explain! Happy if other people want to criticize more! I know it tends to be a conversation killer,


    When I get home after school, My Father's Wife is waiting for me. I forgot about her. Isn't she supposed to be working?

    Walking into the house after school, ah shit, I forgot about My Father's Wife, I never expected her to be waiting for me, an ambush, isn't she supposed to be working?
    When the hell did Terry ever say anything about not thinking about different ways to write? All I ever said was there is no need to complicate the discussion of writing by inventing some bullshit new terminology for using sentence fragments. Fragments are useful. Fragments can be connected with various forms of punctuation. When done well fragments can add immediacy and vigor to a paragraph. Writers have been doing it for years and it doesn't constitute a new form of grammar.
    Last edited by TheWonderingNovice; October 26th, 2016 at 11:51 PM.
    “Fools” said I, “You do not know
    Silence like a cancer grows
    Hear my words that I might teach you
    Take my arms that I might reach you”
    But my words like silent raindrops fell
    And echoed in the wells of silence : Simon & Garfunkel


    Those who enjoy stirring the chamber-pot should be required to lick the spoon.

    Our job as writers is to make readers dream, to infiltrate their minds with our words and create a new reality; a reality not theirs, and not ours, but a new, unique combination of both.

    Visit Amazon and the Kindle Store to check out Reflections in a Black Mirror, and Chase

    Hidden Content






  10. #10
    I think we have swum in the grammar sea for so long we have forgotten how crazy it is. Someone might -- quite reasonable -- say that there are two types of grammar, good and bad. Fragments presumably are bad grammar. But then it might be noted that fragments are an accepted part of good writing. If it's okay to write with good grammar and okay to write with bad grammar . . . why distinguish the two?

    A writer can get pretty far with It is what it is. But how does that writer learn the choices, what modern authors are doing? I have tried to answer that question, and I wrote a book on modern punctuation and grammar. And part of that story was SePG. Dan Brown could write:

    Arriving at the gate, he slid under, ...
    That follows the rule If it communicates what you want, you can write it.

    That construct is common nowadays. For the same reason, I can write the uncommon:

    Standing in the door, lingering after, wanting to spend time with someone who paid attention to me.
    So, an author might want to learn available choices and what they mean and how to use them.
    Looking for people to beta a chapter or more of my book Modern Punctuation and Grammar: Tools for Better Writing. Go Hidden Content
    As always, useful information you can't find anywhere else.

    Hidden Content

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