Tuesday, August 10, 2010

In Which I Rant About Grammar

It wasn't really my journalism degree that started it. I know this to be true because my passion for it, my desire to get it right, started way back in elementary school.  Maybe even before that.  I loved those exercises where you had to take a despicable sentence, with all its punctuation, capitalization and contraction errors and make them right.

The bloggy world is full of good writers.  Writers who are thoughtful and funny and inspiring.  But unfortunately so much of their writing is overshadowed by their glaringly obvious and juvenile grammar mistakes.

Before I publish a blog post I proofread it one thousand times.  Does this word sound better here or here?  Am I rambling?  Should this be two short sentences or one long one?  Maybe this will read better if I insert a paragraph break.

It's true that the same old grammar rules we learned in grade school don't always apply to a blog.  For example, I find certain posts much more convicting with short one-sentence paragraphs rather than neat by-the-book paragraphs all beginning with a five-space indentation and consisting of three to five complete sentences.

Sometimes I like my sentences to be incomplete: Oh. My. Gosh.

And sometimes I like to begin my sentences with "And."  Or "But."

And (see, there I go again) while it's nice to see so many people hop on to the bloggy wagon I feel that some of us may be getting a little too relaxed around here.  We're letting too many things slide and in the process we're losing our credibility as writers and we're showing some serious disrespect to the English language, not to mention our third grade teachers.

While I certainly don't claim to be perfect (I'll welcome any grammar feedback!) I do think it's important to try your best to show the world that you did reread what you wrote at least once before you hit the publish button.  And when you do, perhaps you might consider refreshing your memory on these common mistakes.


It's as simple as reading the context of your sentence.  If "they're" can be replaced with "they are," you've found your word.  If "their" is followed by something or someone that belongs to the subject of the sentence (i.e., their house, their dog, their name), you've found your word.  In most other cases you should use "there." It can be a sentence beginner (i.e., There are times in my life...) or a pronoun for a place (i.e., I like sitting over there.)


I see this mistake time and again and I think it's because both words are so commonly used in everyday language.  I'm so sad because the usage is so easy to figure out.  If "you're" can be replaced with the words "you are" then you know it needs to be a contraction  If not, you use "your."  Example 1: I found your dog. This sentence sounds funny if you were to say, I found you are dog.  Example 2: You're so funny.  This sentence can easily be replaced as: You are so funny.  See?  Easy peasy.


I can understand how this one would be tough because technically both words are supposed to be contracted.  But because they each have a separate meaning the English language says you need to differentiate by removing the apostrophe from one of the words.  Thus, you should use "it's" as a contraction if the word can easily be replaced by the phrase "it is."  Example 1: It's a nice day can easily be replaced with It is a nice day.

If the word is a possessive pronoun then the apostrophe should be left out.  Example 2: The house and all its glory...  In this case the word it is a pronoun for the word house and because the glory belongs to it, its a possessive pronoun.  And just to be safe you can use process of elimination by trying to replace its with it isThe house and all it is glory...doesn't sound right so you know the apostrophe should be omitted.

That's all for today, folks.  Maybe I'll come back later and explain the differences between here/hear and then/than and to/too/two.  Until then, Google it!  There are tons of websites out there dedicated to helping you figure out your grammar questions.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Copyright © Mama Nash | Custom Blog Design by Lilipop Designs