How well do you know your grammar? Try a simple, fun quiz to find out

How well do you use words? Read this blog and answer a few simple questions. (1)

There are quite a few common errors in the use of words in English. We have grammar rules for a reason. Without the use of correct grammar, misunderstandings can easily occur. I once heard something like this on the radio. (I cannot quote the exact situation as it was a long time ago, but this is more-or-less what was said.)
A man was sentenced to 3 years in jail for stealing money in court today.

Now I’m quite sure the man did not steal the money while in court, but that is what was said.

A correct sentence should have said,

‘A man was sentenced in court today to 3 years in jail for stealing money.’

This is just one example of many. Unfortunately, many of the culprits are journalists who should know better.

When I was at school we did lots of exercises of this kind, having to correct the sentence.

Another thing that does not make me laugh, but causes me to shout at the radio or TV and that is the misuse of Amount and Number.

Amount/number. I frequently hear people using the word ‘amount’ when they ought to be using the word ‘number’.
A simple rule is “If you count it, then you say ‘number’ but if you measure it you say ‘amount’.”

Thus it would be: ‘The number of people at the music festival exceeded all expectation,’ or ‘The team needed to score a greater number of goals in order to win the match.’

And: ‘The amount of rainfall this month was above average,’ or ‘The amount of time required for the task is greater than that allowed.’

Another way of thinking of it is that if you are talking about things that come in whole numbers (e.g. people, goals etc. You can’t have half a person or half a goal!) then you say ‘number’ but if you can have fractions, then it would be amount. (e.g. time, weight, length etc.)

Some people might like to think of it in terms of analogue and digital. ‘Number’ is used for digital numbers, and ‘amount’ for analogue.

I will leave you to consider this with these few simple exercises. I will post the correct answers in my next post, which will likely be next Tuesday or Wednesday.

Correct the following sentences:

1. Bulldog for sale. Will eat anything. Very fond of children.
2. The dog growled at me as I was passing in a very aggressive manner.
3. Caroline’s bag was found by a man full of groceries.
4. The wool was found by the playful kitten in a complete tangle.
5. Man saved from being killed by train on rail line.

This last one is on I’ve just seen on BT.

Put the correct word, Amount or Number into these sentences.

1. There was a greater ———- of rainfall than usual last month.
2. There was a greater ———- of people at the match than usual.
3. The girl put a large ———– of sugar in the cake she was making.
4. If you look at the window you can see the ———- of raindrops that have hit it.
5. We need to score a greater ———– of goals  than that if we are to win the league.

Blogging 101 National Anthems

I started thinking about National Anthems when I read the prompt.

Here in the UK we have a dreadful one. God Save the Queen.

Firstly it isn’t really a National Anthem. It is a request to God to protect our sovereign. To me, a National Anthem ought to bring some idea of national pride. This doesn’t.

Secondly the tune. It’s terrible. It is a dirge, especially when played slowly, as it often is. It doesn’t inspire at all, which is what a national Anthem should do. Compared with the Marseillaise, the Italian anthem (which does go on a bit) or The Star-Spangled Banner it’s terrible.

The United Kingdom is made up of four countries, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, all ruled by the government in London, and with the Queen as Head of State, so it’s fine for all of them to have this request for the sovereign’s protection as an over-arching anthem. However, all the countries except England have a separate anthem for use when the country is acting separately. England only has God Save the Queen, which covers all the nations. That doesn’t seem right to me.

There have been several suggestions for an English National Anthem. The first, and seemingly most popular is Jerusalem. Now it does mention England, but it isn’t really about patriotism. It’s asking if Jesus walked on ‘England’s green and pleasant land’. What is more, the title is ‘Jerusalem’ for goodness sake. I admit it’s a good tune though, which I think is largely why it is favoured by many people.

Another one that has a good tune, and this time is patriotic, is Land of Hope and Glory. It’s a great patriotic song and has a tune that stirs the blood. The problem with that is the line which says ‘Wider still and wider shall thy bounds be set’. is this appropriate in this day and age?

The final one that is sometimes suggested is Rule Brittania. This is sung with gusto at the Last Night of the Proms every year. The problem I have with this one is that it refers to Brittania, which is not England.

My favourite for a National Anthem is I Vow to Thee My Country. The music is from the Planets Suite by Holtz and the words are patriotic. I think that not many people know of this is because it is used and a hymn in church and few people go to church these days (at least in the UK).

I am attaching the words here. As it would be likely that only the first verse is used ( as is the case with God Save the Queen) it would be suitable. I looked it up on Wikipedia and found a second verse that I never knew existed. We only sang the first and last when I sang it. That verse is maybe a little much for nowadays, but, hey, what about the Marseillaise?

I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love;
The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.
I heard my country calling, away across the sea,
Across the waves and waters, she calls and calls to me.
Her sword is girded at her side, her helmet on her head,
And around her feet are lying the dying and the dead;
I hear the noise of battle, the thunder of her guns;
I haste to thee, my mother, a son among thy sons.
And there’s another country, I’ve heard of long ago,
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness, and all her paths are peace.
Please make any comments about this post. I would be interested to hear what people think, especially Brits.

Blogging 101. A story in 50 words.

The boy looked up.

Above him a dragon flew on wings that reflected the blue sky.

It was so beautiful that he wanted to watch it all day.

The dragon landed. It looked towards the boy.

‘Come inside the walls’, called his mother. The boy sadly entered the castle.

A 50 word short story inspired by the 50 word story of

Blogging 101 Identify your target audience


Who is my target audience? I could write for those that I hope will read my books, but that’s difficult. There is such a wide range of people who may read them, many of which may not be interested in the procedures of writing. I could write for a potential agent or publisher, but I think that may be futile, so I’ve decided to write for my daughter.

This is a poem I wrote. It could be for any first child, I hope some of you recognise the feelings expressed.

(I suppose I’ll have to write about the joys of a second child now to redress the balance!)


I saw beauty when I first saw you,
My little girl, so small, so new.
Little toes and fingers small
All wrapped up within your shawl.

At first you crawled, and then you walked.
It wasn’t long before you talked.
The funny little things you said
Are all stored here, within my head.

Your big brown eyes, your curly hair—
I feel such love, you are so rare.
Never was another born
Not at evening, nor at dawn.

My little girl, you are unique
So small, dependent and so weak.
But not for long, my little one:
The years fly by and then you’re gone.

Now you have your own children
The miracle starts once again.
The love I feel for you is passed
By you, to yours, it is so vast.

The love of Mother for her Child
Is never one that’s meek and mild.
It lasts forever and a day.
It never dies, come what may.


Why do I Blog?

There was a question on Day 1 of this blogging course that asked why I blog. I did answer that, but it was a bit brief, I think, so I’ll tell you as bit more.

I used to be a teacher. I’ve taught many subjects, although my main subject is science, and I studied maths and English as subsidiaries. In my first job I taught mainly science with some English. I thoroughly enjoyed teaching the creative writing part of the curriculum, especially. I had always enjoyed this part of English myself when I was at school.

During this time, teaching in Salford, near Manchester, England, I was also asked to teach games. That wasn’t too bad, but then I was asked to teach Religious Education. Now I was brought up in a Methodist family. My grandfather was a local preacher, and all the family, aunts, uncles, cousins etc. went to church every Sunday. I attended Sunday school and did all the things expected of me there, becoming confirmed etc. This, however, did not prepare me to teach R.E. to teenagers. I was one lesson ahead of them for a whole year!

During my student days I wrote some poetry, which has all been lost over the years, except for one that I can remember. That one was published in the University magazine, a fact that I am quite proud of. Then when I was on my second teaching practice in a primary school in Irlam, Lancashire, a 9-year-old boy came up to me with a book asking ‘Have you ever read this, Miss ?’

‘This’ turned out to be ‘The Lord of the Rings.’ I told him that I hadn’t and he recommended that I did so, but first I should read The Hobbit.

Some days later I was in the library and I spotted The Hobbit. I got it out and read it, followed by The Lord of the Rings. The rest, as they say, is History.

I went on to devour the C.S. Lewis books. There wasn’t much fantasy around then. I was also reading SciFi, of course, and this kept me going for quite some time before more fantasy became available. Then I went to work in Croydon, just to the south of London. Here I found some colleagues who played Dungeons and Dragons in their leisure time. I had always wanted to play and so we joined forces with some other colleagues and formed a club, playing at lunchtime.

Eventually, of course, these people left and so I decided to start a club with some of the pupils. I DMed this club using bought scenarios for quite a while until I thought ‘I could write a scenario’; so I did.

Eventually, several years later, and many run-throughs of the scenario with different pupils at two different schools, I thought that it may make a book. When I retired I started to write it. It has changed a bit (no, quite a lot) from the original, but the basics are still there.

After publishing the book, I found that I needed to market it and was told that a blog was essential. That is why I began the blog, but I am not sticking to just publishing about my books (of which there are now 3, including a cookery book with many recipes from t he turn of the century). I want to talk about many things and so what you will see here is a variety of subjects. I will occasionally talk about what I am writing and how I am progressing an also about the process of writing to help others, but I will also digress onto many other topics.

I hope you like my blogs. Please comment on what you think and I will try to answer you.

Blogging 101

I am doing both the tasks at once. Yesterday I was busy looking after my 2 youngest grandchildren and consequently did not have the time to do any blogging.

I have actually been blogging for a while now, but I think there is always room for improvement and I think I need to learn more.

I started blogging in order to build a platform to help to advertise my books, but I don’t just blog about, ‘I’ve written 2 books, please buy them.’ I can’t think that people want me to do the hard sell. My blog is therefore rather general. There are some things about writing in general, I occasionally post something about what I am actually doing at the moment as regards my books and other blogs are about what interests me at the moment of writing.

I occasionally post some of my writing on my blogs–extracts from my books or some of my poetry.

Let Death Touch Your Characters – Writing Grief

Myths of the Mirror

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The first book I read that dealt with death was Charlotte’s Web. I cried at the little spider’s demise and reread the book a week later, so I could cry again.

When I grew up, I became a grief counselor and hospice volunteer. I ran grief groups for children and families. The resiliency of children, their ability to find joy in the midst of deep sorrow and uncertainty, led me to a career in early childhood mental health.

I did all this before death balled up a fist and punched me in the face.

On July 3, 2003, my youngest brother, Dan, was shot in the head. Twelve years later, his murder remains officially unsolved.

As you might imagine, my experience has led me to be somewhat discerning about the presence of grief in the books I read. In fact, a psychologically “normal” character’s complete lack of any grief response to the death of…

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There are dragons and magic in the world if only you look for them… V.M. Sang

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