My Sophomore English Teacher

I keep having all of these great blog ideas zoom through my head, especially after reading a few of my favorite sites. Of course I haven't become adept enough at the whole blogging thing to create drafts of entries, so the great ideas typically zoom right on through and don't plant themselves in my memory for very long.

This is not one of those great blog ideas. This is simply something I enjoy, and, as I've said before, since this is my blog, that's all that matters.

Wow, that was a lot of commas.

A perfect segue to today's topic: Grammar.

I am a self-proclaimed member of the Grammar Police. Now, before all of you fellow grammarians (yes, I make up words, as well) out there jump all over my case, I never said that I have perfect grammar. Rather, one of my biggest pet peeves is when people make GLARING grammatical errors in things that are posted publicly. I fully admit that I sometimes overuse commas, and that I really don't know the correct use of a semicolon. I also will be the first to note that blog-grammar tends more toward the creative writing area than actual American English grammar.

I'm talking about people who write things like "all road's lead to Rome", when what they really mean is "all roads lead to Rome". Or signs that read "Car's for Sale", when what they really mean is "Cars for Sale".

I love to proofread things, and once took our hometown newspaper to task. One day I "edited" (grammar and spelling only) an issue. I sent it back to the editor with all of my red marks (and there were many) accompanied by the appropriate corrections and a letter berating his proofreaders. Looking back, it was, perhaps, not the most tactful way to make my point, but I was in high school. I felt that if I, a lowly sophomore, could catch that many mistakes, then they, as professional journalists, should certainly be able to catch at least a few of them.

One of my favorite books has the amusing title of Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss. Ms. Truss has a brilliant way of putting the grammar-challenged in their places in a wonderfully humorous, yet to-the-point manner. I highly recommend it for those of you who never had a sophomore English teacher like mine.

I blame Miss W. for my love of all things grammatical. She used to keep a fork in her desk, and whenever any of us used the phrase "I'm done," she would take it out and poke us (gently, of course), saying "No, you need a few more minutes." Quickly, we learned that a simple "I'm finished" would avoid the potential puncture wounds.

"Can I use the restroom?" would always be followed by the curt "I don't know, can you?" Body spill accidents were averted by learning "May I use the restroom?" was the more appropriate question.

The world would be a much more civilized place if we all had Miss W. for English.

Stay tuned for Part II: The Spelling Bee.



Anonymous said...

I am also a grammer/proofreading freak. If my children grow up with nothing else, at least they will use "can and may" and "good and well" correctly!

Elle Jay

emma's pulse said...

Oh, I relate! My Miss W. was named Mrs. Brennan. She was such an inspiration, and was probably 75 when she taught me.

My eyes roll back in my head when I see "Ice Tea" on a menu.

clipper829 said...

Ohhh...I was the teacher who would serve up an "I don't know, CAN you?" in response to the restroom question!