Thursday, June 11, 2009


I am a grammar freak--I can't help it. Twelve years of Catholic school in the 60s does that to you. You came out completely screwed up emotionally, but damn it you knew sentence structure, punctuation and spelling.... I worked for 4 years editing and proofing the marketing materials for a theatre company; I used to tell my boss my criteria was "What would have caused Sister to hit me with the ruler?" You'd be amazed at how helpful that was.

My son recently told me that he finds himself correcting his friends because of my insistance on good grammar as they were growing up. My daughter immediately said she does it too. And my grandson just rolled his 17 year old eyes at the 3 of us. I could see the thought bubble: "You are all so lame, what difference does it make." [Just like his mom and uncle used to do.]

I remembered the time my son started telling a story when he was about 6: HIM- "Me and so and so are gonna..." ME{reflex action]- "So and so and I..." Him- [beat, beat] "You're not going." We all laughed about it, but they did thank me for giving them fantastic vocabularies, a real love of the English language and the ability to speak properly. Hey, it's what my mom did for me. She always said you make a better first impression if you are able to carry on a decent conversation--a fact I repeated to my own two ad nauseum. [Well, that and "If you don't have anything nice to say... come sit by me." No wait--that's not it...]

When they were in elementary school, grammar was not "in," they were encouraging students to express their ideas...since when can't one express themselves and spell things correctly at the same time? If you know proper grammar it frees you up to let the ideas flow out onto the page. At least that's the case for me....

Now, I am all for slang terms and catch phrases--love 'em and use 'em all the time; but when it comes to formal writing or reporting let's get it right people. They're even playing with the past tenses of words. I have seen the following in very reputable publications: "Mr. X has pleaded guilty to..." I was taught the past tense of the word "plead" is "pled." Does anyone know when this other version came into vogue? And why?

Hope I haven't been too preachy, but this kind of stuff drives me crazy--and makes me want to get out that ruler.

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