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Three Fish
12-19-2010, 02:17 AM
I've been writing all day and my brain is mush. Help me please!

His uncle (rather, great uncle) came over and....


Is that right? How do you do the whole "rather" thing lol? Is there an "or"? Does rather go at the beginning or end? Is there a comma?

Thanks!

27Froggie29
12-19-2010, 02:21 AM
His uncle, or rather, his great uncle came over and...

Thats how I would write it. But it may not be right either sorry.

=) Froggie

Chase
12-19-2010, 02:31 AM
His uncle (rather, great uncle) came over and...

This will probably be switched to the grammar section where we all welcome stupid grammar questions. Froggie is on the right track. There will be commas.

One way is bracket the parathentical phrase with commas: His uncle, or rather his great uncle, approached and . . .

This is okay, too: His uncle, rather his great uncle, approached and . . .

Three Fish
12-19-2010, 02:40 AM
Thanks Froggie and Chase :)

benbradley
12-19-2010, 03:05 AM
This isn't what you were asking, but I feel context is important. Is this, as I suspect, or think it should be, part of someone speaking? If so, put it in quotemarks so we know:

"His uncle, or rather, his great uncle came over and..."

If it's part of description, it's then the invisible narrator correcting him/her/itself, and that's annoying, and distracts from the story. In that case, just go with the "correct" statement from the start:

His great uncle came over and...

Karen Landis
12-19-2010, 04:00 AM
What about "His uncle (actually, his great uncle) came over and ...."

pinkrobot
12-19-2010, 07:17 PM
I'm not getting the context of the story or any other part of it, so this may just be ignorance on my part. But I'm wondering, why even bother saying "uncle" if it's his great uncle? Why not just say, "His great uncle came over and..."?

rachelviola
12-20-2010, 11:26 AM
i think it's a matter of taste. all of those work.

dpaterso
12-20-2010, 01:01 PM
I'm not getting the context of the story or any other part of it, so this may just be ignorance on my part. But I'm wondering, why even bother saying "uncle" if it's his great uncle? Why not just say, "His great uncle came over and..."?
You stole my thoughts!

Question's already been asked and answered, but I mention that I'd personally lean towards naming the character and in doing so explaining the use of the closer/familiar title rather than the technically correct title, e.g.

Uncle Vanya -- actually his great uncle -- came over and...

-Derek

bonitakale
12-20-2010, 04:13 PM
You stole my thoughts!

Question's already been asked and answered, but I mention that I'd personally lean towards naming the character and in doing so explaining the use of the closer/familiar title rather than the technically correct title, e.g.

Uncle Vanya -- actually his great uncle -- came over and...

-Derek

Yes, or even,

Uncle Vanya, his grandmother's brother...

Carradee
12-20-2010, 07:19 PM
It depends on the narrator. But make sure however you put it shows your narrator's personality.

Example #1: (Great-)Uncle Vanya came over and…"
Example #2: "Uncle Vanya—actually Great-Uncle Vanya but he didn't like that because it made him feel old—came over and…"

Granted, you have to be careful with that second type of narrator. :)

maestrowork
12-20-2010, 08:07 PM
Uncle Vanya, his grandmother's brother...

That would confuse me. Is it Uncle Vanya's grandmother's brother? Are there two people coming over: Uncle Vanya and his grandmother's brother? The comma is the darnest thing. Grammatically it's correct, but semantically it can be confusing.

In this case, I favor the em-dash. It's clear.

The parentheses, however, are too much. It's really not an "aside" but an explanation, so em-dashes are better.

bonitakale
12-21-2010, 07:46 PM
That would confuse me. Is it Uncle Vanya's grandmother's brother? Are their two people coming over: Uncle Vanya and his grandmother's brother? The comma is the darnest thing. Grammatically it's correct, but semantically it can be confusing.

In this case, I favor the em-dash. It's clear.

The parentheses, however, are too much. It's really not an "aside" but an explanation, so em-dashes are better.

Hmm, I see what you mean. I was imagining a very clear frame paragraph, something like--

The whole family was here. Roger was excited to see his cousins, Lucy and Jack. And Uncle Vanya, Grandma's brother, had come all the way from Florida.

But I agree, the em-dashes are clearer. I just don't like them there. They make me think, "So what?" I'd be more inclined to call him "Great-uncle Vanya," the first time, and then, "Uncle Vanya," after that.

maestrowork
12-21-2010, 08:36 PM
The whole family was here. Roger was excited to see his cousins, Lucy and Jack. And Uncle Vanya, Grandma's brother, had come all the way from Florida.[/I]

This would work, but still, it may stop the readers: if he's grandma's brother, why is he "uncle"? I still think an explanation set by em-dashes would be smoother and less intrusive, ironically.

benbradley
12-21-2010, 11:17 PM
Okay, so NOW we see where the OP came from (or so we hope - it wasn't the OP "clearing this up") ... terms such as great uncle are not as often used as grandmother and grandfather, and it's easier and more polite (specifically to the great uncle!) to call such relatives uncle rather than great uncle, regardless of the technicalities. Some of the kids might not know there's a word 'great uncle' until someone outside the family explains it. Everyone calls him 'Uncle Joe' so he's my uncle...

I see an opportunity to clear this up in dialogue:

His uncle came over [not mentioning the exact relationship], bla bla bla...

[The exact relationship gets spelled out at the dinner table with this opening line of this dialogue:]

"Uncle Joe, since you're my grandmother's sister, aren't you really my great uncle?"

My mother interrupted: "There are no great uncles in this family, dear."

"But my teacher said ..."

Dad piped in: "Your mother is saying we don't use that phrase ..." His voice dropped down to almost a whisper to complete the thought: " ... even if it's technically correct."

He shut up, and also figured out he had just asked one of those 'impertinent questions' his father had lectured him about before.