Monday, January 19, 2009

Grammar Slammer

I've always been a stickler for grammar. The English language is a treasure for me and I love to manipulate words and sentences. I now have a new part-time job teaching composition at a local community college. In fact, getting organized with a new schedule has put me behind on my blogging but I think I am getting back on track, now!
Editing one's own writing is difficult because we often see what we intended to write, not what is actually on the page. I'm sure there are errors in my blogs as well as other works but I do try to proofread as much as possible.
In my first classes last week, we discussed the important of writing well. I contended that if everyone could write, I wouldn't have a career - both as a teacher and as an editor. When I questioned the class about reading something that is written poorly, they stated that it reflects on the writer. The person is perceived as less intelligent and non-credible.
A friend emailed a link to me for a blog that focuses on blog tips. My immediate reaction was, "great concept!" Unfortunately, the writing is full of errors with changing tenses and mismatched subject/verbs. I hope someone will pass along a tip to this poor soul that obviously had good intentions. Maybe I will go back myself and offer some friendly advice. In the meantime, heed my warning here lamb chops: Baaaad writing = baaaaad reputation!


  1. My Mother was an English teacher. When I was a kid, she repeatedly did two things.

    The first was that whenever I asked her a question, you replied, "Look it up," and directed me to the World Book Encyclopedia, which, coincidentally, she sold during her free time.

    The second was whenever I mispronounced a word, or used incorrect grammar, she corrected me immediately on the spot.

    I had the opportunity to teach "language" at a local community college for the past two years. On the first day of class, I told the students that IF EVERYONE IN THE CLASS AGREED, I would correct their grammar immediately on the spot during class. However, if one single person disagreed, or felt uncomfortable, I would not employ this teaching method.

    I then gave them an opportunity to vote as a class, while I walked out of the room for ten minutes, and then returned to determine the vote. Not one single time did I have a class refuse to go along with this approach.

    By the way, when I was roughly eight years of age, my Mother also gave me one of the greatest gifts I ever received. At Christmas, she gave me a Webster's dictionary. (At the time, I was a tad disappointed.) It was the other volume to which she sent me on a repeated basis.

  2. I don't think most people will notice poor grammar - unless the content is written so poorly that the reader can barely understand it.

    When people text or email me and they omit punctuation (commas, question marks and periods), I can still understand the message (90% of the time) because the human mind pieces things together automatically (if you're of average intelligence).

    I've received emails written by PhDs that contain gross grammatical errors. I don't think it means they're stupid; I think it means they were too lazy to proofread their work.

  3. You might find Jonathan Bert's (The Extreme Moderate) most recent piece on the English language, interesting.

  4. Most of my life, both career and volunteer career, I have needed to communicate on a verbal level. This unfortunately left my writing skills languishing. So consequently I simply write the way I speak and punctuate when it sounds "right'.

    The need for verbal communication however necessitated being able to gear down or ratchet up on the spot, and to do it so subtly that you did not offend. I guess I finally settled on the 6th grade level vocabulary commonly used in newspapers as being the best beginning point, and got stuck there. :) BB