Monday, October 15, 2018

Grammar Guerrillas

I don’t have many friends. But both of them are grammar guerrillas. Seriously. I mean, I get it. I hate bad grammar with a passion. My distaste for grammatical error is so bad that if a public speaker is using poor grammar, I have a hard time even following the topic. I am so distressed with plural verbs following singular subjects, with the wrong pronoun, or a verb without its helper. I hate it when people use “I” because they think it’s always correct, when they should be saying, “me”. And the list goes on. For me, it’s like fingernails on a chalkboard. Totally sets me on edge. (Notice. Sets me, not sits me.)

So the fact that I would choose friends who use proper grammar is no surprise. The problem is that they are both better than I am about grammar. I call one the Grammar Queen, the other is self-dubbed the Grammar Nazi (and very appropriately, I might add). The Grammar Queen (GQ) is just more diplomatic and kind about correcting my grammar. The Grammar Nazi (GN) is, well, not so apt to be diplomatic and kind. 

And I have to say, this is a bigger problem in print, generally, than in vocal form. Not always, of course. (Refer to the comment about a public speaker using bad grammar.) But in print, oh my gosh, it gets so much worse. When we are speaking, no one knows if we are using their, there or they’re, since they’re all the same sounding. No one knows about to and two and too, since they, too, sound the same. We’re and were are fine when we are speaking, as well as wear and where. Or plain and plane. But, in our highly technical world, where we use text messaging, Instagram, emails and FaceBook, not to mention the printed newspaper, these errors are glaring. Well, to me they are, anyway.

So I find myself typing a message to a friend, and wondering if I as using the correct spelling for a word. I wonder if I am using the correct form of a verb. Frequently I search on-line to make sure I have it right before I hit “send”. I also get rather concerned about where I am putting my punctuation - inside or outside the quotes. Sometimes, however, I just ask the friend. 

The GQ typically will respond with a textbook style answer. I asked her about this particular phrase, “That really set me back on my heels”. My concern was that one sits, but something is set. So should I have used “sat me back on my heels”? I didn’t think so, but was just checking with the pro. She responded with “A setting hen sits on her eggs.” That was a lot of help. (NOT. She should have been a politician. What a non-committal answer that was.) So, I’m a setting chick sitting on my heels? Turns out, she wasn’t positive, either, although we both agreed that I should be set back on my heels, even if that’s not really the way it is. 
My sister, oops, errrrr, I mean, my other friend would have corrected my mistake before I even got a chance to ask her about it. She would have swiftly told me I was using a word improperly and then promptly sent me a Google search result supporting her. Not only does she like to correct other people’s grammar, she likes to back her corrections up with proof. Unlike the GQ, she doesn’t wait for me to ask about it, she jumps on it immediately, hence, the Grammar Nazi name. 

Personally, since I am particular about proper grammar, I appreciate both queenly and Nazi methods. Sometimes I find the queenly methods a little too hesitant whereas Nazi techniques occasionally put me on edge. Both are okay in my book, though. 

And by the way, there seems to be a debate abroad whether Nazi should always be capitalized or not.  I couldn’t find a definitive answer on the internet, so I’ve chosen to capitalize it, just in case. 

1 comment:

  1. I love this post. I often see grammar goofs but I try to hold myself from pointing them out. I think I got more conscience of it after working at the newspaper so many years.I haven't a clue whether Nazi should always be spelled with a capital letter either.