a love/hate relationship

on correcting grammar

When someone says “Amy and me were at the mall the other day”, we all wince. When someone forwards you an email with the subject line “send this to ten people or your doomed”, we turn our noses up and hit delete. When your boss sends out a memo reading “employees are wasting to much lunch time”, we physically recoil/roll our eyes/bang our fists.

Why do you work for someone who doesn’t know the difference between too and to? Or –gasp!– why are you working for someone who wouldn’t care about the difference even if you told him?

The trouble with grammar is, no one cares.

Say my mother were correcting you on how to bake cookies. I bet you would listen to her, because you want cookies. But grammar-correction comes with nothing but embarrassment. I’ve embarrassed you because you were wrong. You’ve embarrassed me because everyone thinks I’m a nerd. No one cares about the difference between who and whom.

My boyfriend’s expertise involves math, computers, sound, engineering. He is a very smart audio/electrical engineer, and he frequently attempts to explain his projects to me, and sometimes I even understand them! I, being the nerd that I am, listen with zeal, excited about another academic challenge. Can I follow? Can I understand a tiny fraction of accoustics, with absolutely no training? I am a genius! I knew I could’ve been anything! I just chose to be an English major because it was my passion!…

Wait, why didn’t I choose something else…?

And there. I’ve really gotten away from the point, but I’ve found it again. The point is, you listen to the plumber so you can unclog your drain. You listen to my mom because you love cookies. You listen to my boyfriend because he can tell you how to hook up your electronics. Why do you listen to me?

So I can berate you on your ignorance of homonyms?

There’s really no reason to listen to me. Just read something funny, stimulating, or intelligent. Words on a page don’t talk back; I do.


4 responses

  1. Margaret M

    I got an email from my supervisor last week reminding me to use correct grammar in my submitted work. The email contained two grammar mistakes, and the correction in the work was actually in regards to punctuation. And it was my co-worker’s, not mine. Ironic? I enjoyed the moment before I replied, “I will be more careful in the future. Thank you for this reminder.” Because this is my work life. My life without humor. (sentence fragments used for artistic emphasis)

    November 8, 2009 at 2:45 pm

  2. Anna

    I know that my grammar is sometimes sloppy, though I identify the annoyance with the your/you’re ignorance… One grammar issue I have noticed a lot lately is the misuse of the word ‘myself’. My mom and her friend are so upset by the teachers misuse of the word in the 3-6 school that they work at they printed a definition and samples of proper use and placed them in the faculty mailboxes. I hadn’t realized ‘myself’ use was such a problem, but now I see it blatantly misused everywhere. The incidents that bother me the most are in legal forms and on television–by both journalists and the people they interview (usually politicians)…it is driving me crazy!

    February 3, 2010 at 5:35 pm

  3. Anna

    Don’t worry, I see my grammar mistake above…

    February 3, 2010 at 5:36 pm

  4. Wilbur

    I was actually thinking about becoming a English major so I could sound quite sophisticated with bulging eyes yelling Whom!!! It’s Whom!! People!!.
    I thought I would feel better about myself but maybe Humanities? You can quote the dead and sound like your above the masses but really at the end of the day its just a masquerade. Creative Writing would be fun bangin away at my typewriter like Ernest or Steinbeck except that style is so been over done, just go rent Cannery Row. Now it’s all Rappin gramma and I pad shufflin,sextin and the Web is for scanners. I mean who listens to your poetry except for your friends who listen to you when your drunk. Where are the Grammar police of the sixties? Those ole school marms, spinsters waiting for you to cross the line so they could jump out atcha. We need those ladies to keep us all in line, we must start a graduate school for English majors so they can move in to Corrections, Yes that’s what the world needs now English Corrections Officers. Patrolling the streets of Manhattan and Monroe G.a. writing tickets and starting a another extra boring reality show. Takin down the gangs and shuttin down the Ebonics rings and writing books about the adventure….Maybe I will get my degree in English and join the force……Naaaaa too much work and no R.O.I.

    April 15, 2010 at 3:45 pm

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