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Grammar Quirks: Alex Finlay on 'And'

Alex Finlay, author of "The Night Shift," discusses the grammar quirks that make up his writing. 

By
Alex Finlay, Writing for
2-minute read

Grammar Girl: What’s your favorite word and why?

Alex Finlay:   “And.” It gets me so many places. And you can start a sentence with it, contrary to what too many were taught in grade school.

GG: What’s a word you dislike (either because it’s overused or misused) and why?

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AF:  I dislike “however,” particularly when used at the beginning of a sentence. “But” is simpler and has more flow.

Starting a Sentence With 'However': Right or Wrong?

GG: What word will you always misspell?

AF:  Too many to list. My manuscripts in Word are covered in squiggly red lines.

GG: What word (or semblance of a word) would you like to see added to the dictionary? Why?

AF:  “For f*ck’s sake” — because so many of my characters say it.

GG: Any grammar pet peeves we should know about?

AF:  The view that contractions aren’t allowed in formal writing. I don’t like that.

When You Should Use (and Avoid) Contractions

GG: To what extent does grammar play a role in character development and voice?

AF:  To a degree, but the key is to remember that we speak much differently than we write.

GG: Do you have a favorite quotation or passage from an author you’d like to share?

AF:  I love the last line of "The Great Gatsby:"  

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Fitzgerald must’ve loved it too — it’s on his tombstone.

GG: What grammar, wording, or punctuation problem did you struggle with this week?

AF:  Semicolons; always the semicolons.