After 50 posts, I wanted to share a secret with you. I am a member of the Grammar Police.
Now, I’m not talking about your style of writing in a blog or on social media—those outlets are personal, and your writing should reflect that. There you can write exactly how you would speak to a friend. But here I’m talking about people who don’t speak or write
good well on a daily basis.
I have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to people who make common grammatical mistakes. As I once heard someone say, we are responsible for knowing one language, so what is our excuse for not having mastered it? Didn’t you have a lesson in, like, first grade on the difference between there/their/they’re? Was it not drilled into your head that “a lot” are two separate words? And heaven help you if you put an apostrophe at the end of a word that is plural, not possessive—I will eat your unborn child!
I judge you with every fiber of my being when you use the wrong your/you’re or misplace an apostrophe. I will unfollow or unsubscribe from you in the blink of an eye if you consistently make mistakes in your writing. As my friend Sweet Brown says, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.” Did you not pay attention in elementary school? You have a college degree? You disgust me.
I can’t help it. I grew up with the Chief of the Grammar Police. My dad is a West Point grad and an obsessive grammarian. My mom was an award-winning NYU journalism major and an advertising writer. My parents were harder on me than my teachers, and I am thankful for it. Every homework assignment was checked, corrected, then reviewed in great details as to where the mistakes were.
In school my freshman English teacher would deduct 10 points for every misplaced comma or for using any form of the verb “to be.” Every. Single. One. My AP Language teacher would read papers out loud and berate us for mistakes—he was our favorite, and former students still go back to visit him.
I am not ashamed to admit that my parents read and edit my blog if necessary. It doesn’t matter that I’m 25—they still have a lot to teach me. I will get a phone call, text, or email pointing out a mistake, and then I’ll rush to edit the post before my readers judge me.
I have collected some of my grammatical errors, a Best Of if you will, and want to share them so that you can learn from my mistakes. These are not easy to remember, if you ever learned them at all, and my dad and I have poured over the AP Stylebook to confirm their accuracy.
- There is no such phrase as “off of” You jump off a cliff, not off of a cliff.
- May (probable) v Might (unlikely) I may cry when I cross the finish line this weekend, and then I might turn around and run the course backwards for fun.
- Use WHEN in a sentence referring to time There were times when I wanted to gouge my eyes out because of your spelling.
- Punctuation and parentheses Periods go outside parentheses. Period. Unless the phrase inside the parentheses is a complete sentence. And for good measure, periods go inside quotation marks.
- Lay (active) v Lie (passive) As my dad said, “You lay what? A carpet. Plans. The lawn boy. Conversely, there is no object after the verb ‘lie.’ There are exceptions, when the object is understood: ‘The hens were busy laying all day.’ Eggs are implied—what the hell else would they be laying? ‘I wanna score some hootch and spend the weekend drinkin’ and layin’.’ OK, obviously the guy means girls, not ducks.”
What grammatical pet peeves do you have?
*All photos are from Pinterest, except for my daddy’s and my correspondences