I frequently receive emails with a disclaimer that reads, basically, “I hate emailing you because I’m always afraid you’re correcting my grammar and judging me.” And, for the record, oh, semi-educated world, such fear is not entirely unfounded, but only half-way correct. I’m not correcting your grammar. I’m simply noticing your grammatical mistakes. And judging you.
That said, English teachers actually have a much harder time getting away with grammatical mistakes than the average human, for obvious reasons. It might come as a surprise to know that in sending weekly parent-student emails from my classroom, I actually freaked out before pushing the send button. Only the bravest would have dared call me on an actual mistake, but the truth is, it did happen from time to time. I also reread every single one of these blog posts about four times before pushing “publish” and even then, John (or my mother, or my brother-in-law) often sends me an email before the end of the day with a brief correction.
I know I’ve already admitted to losing my grip on spelling at some point in my life. It seems like it had to have happened with the onset of word processing everything, or more likely, the invention of the squiggly red line and right click button, but it very well may have started in 6th grade when the bell dinged in round 1 at the Area-District Spelling Bee. My word? Podium. (It’s like my subconscious decided at that very moment, “So what if you can’t spell? Good spellers are stoopid! Take that!”)
Sidenote: before publication, I was forced by that very red line to right click “subconscious,” above.
There are certainly such things as “acceptable grammatical mistakes” in the proper context. Some call it poetic license. I call it, my blog. And while I’d never use them in a professional format, or in an educational publication, for example, in my personal writing I wholeheartedly embrace the bending of certain grammatical conventions like punctuation. And sentence fragments. The difference between me and everyone else at this point is, I DO IT INTENTIONALLY.
At any rate, there have been plenty of times whilst wielding a magenta Expo, that I’ve had to stop and ask 29 wide eyes, “Wait a minute. Is that even right?” And one argument that arose with frequency (not only in my classroom but between me and legal writing “friends”) was a question of commas. In fact, up until three days ago, I didn’t even know this particular comma had a name. Now I do. And I understand him. And, if I go back into the classroom one day (assuming the school is in no way associated with the Baptist church), I will make an overhead projection of this very visual, and teach my classes accordingly.
A lesson on The Oxford Comma:
While I’m standing at my grammar podium, I’ll say this: I know grammar snob blogs exist en masse. I am not the first (and hopefully won’t be the last) to complain. But a recent hormone induced riff with John has put in the mood to make lists, so without further ado, here are the mistakes which make me want to chuck Expo markers at people’s heads. Note: these were also displayed in permanence via homemade laminated posters around the walls of the room I once called home from 8:30 to 4pm, five days a week.
A lot is TWO. WORDS.
Y.O.U. + A.R.E. = you’re.
It isn’t that difficult, people.
Your 4th grade teacher was being lazy when she taught you that sentences cannot begin with the word because. They can. It is called a subordinate clause and it doesn’t matter if it comes at the beginning or the end of the sentence, as long as it is connected with a comma to a subject and a verb. What she should have been proclaiming from the rooftops, instead, was: “Never begin a sentence with the word which, unless you are asking a question.”
NOTE: the rant wasn’t part of the poster. It merely verbally accompanied my pointing out of the lesson within. It often concluded with, “And if you are still in touch with your 4th grade teacher, do the world a favor and pass this little nugget along. If not for yours than for my future.”
There. They’re. Their.
There’s a difference. They’re’s a difference. Their’s a difference.
If I see any of the following:
LOL | B4 | b/c | ♥ | 🙂
I will physically throw up on your paper, let it dry, and then hand it back to you.