Saturday, February 28, 2009

Grammar Nazi

When email began taking over the world (I'm old enough to remember a time before email) and then texting became prevalent, there were those who foresaw doom and predicted that dreadful things would happen to the English language.

For awhile, I suspect that they were correct. However, what I have discovered is that the opposite of that prediction has begun to occur. Interest in the proper use of the English language has overtaken much of the online world, to the point that people are correcting each other on Facebook. It is a little more difficult to execute proper English grammar when you are only given 140 characters to make a statement, but if you misspell a word or end a sentence with a preposition, you will find that there are plenty of people ready to take you to task.

I have always had a basic, natural understanding of grammar. This is probably due to the number of books I've read and the fact that my mother adored the English language. She and Dad would have heated discussions over the proper use of a word. At some point they would giggle when they realized that they were angry with each other over a word! Now, while I know what a sentence should look like, I will admit to making many errors and sometimes having no clue regarding proper usage of the language.

Since I have begun learning Greek, I've discovered that I have an inability to recall basic grammatical rules and I have completely forgotten how to diagram a sentence. I knew that it was time to brush up on all of that information so that I could translate it into Greek. The structure of words in the Greek language is based on where they fall in the sentence.

I purchased a couple of books on grammar and then discovered one that was called "The Only Grammar Book You'll Ever Need." Could it be true? I read the reviews of the book and they were excellent, so I purchased it. It's just a small book and it is amazing! For heaven's sake, it is only $7.95 on Amazon!

I find myself surprised at how poor our education system has been at giving us a basic comprehension of grammar, of the proper use of words, of spelling, of so many things regarding our language.

For instance, there continues to be a lack of understanding of the when to use 'your' or 'you're.' While it seems simple to me, I suppose that most don't take the time to think about it. Only use you're if the sentence can be saying you are. It is a contraction! The sentence You are beautiful. is NOT Your beautiful. (A contraction is simply removing a letter and replacing it with the apostrophe - in this case, remove the 'a'.)

The word your is used when something belongs to you. If it makes sense to say our, it can make sense to say your. This is your car. (you would not want to say This is you're car because you aren't saying This is you are car.)

The other set of words that get used incorrectly are to, too, two. The word two needs to be eliminated immediately. The only time two is used is as a number.

Now we are down to two words (see what I did there?). The only time the word to is used is when there is a direction involved. We are going to Chicago. This word is also a preposition and will be used as such: Whom are you going to the party with? This still uses the word to as a direction.

The word too has a couple of different ways it can be used. If you mean something additional, you use the word too - it has an additional o. Too is an adverb - it can be used to describe the action part of the sentence. The sentence: She is too smart for him. The word too describes how smart she is. You can not use the word to here for several reasons. First of all, the word to is not a descriptive word and secondly, the verb is not a direction.

Make sense? Probably not. All I know is - these are a couple of the most common errors used when typing and writing.

My father embarrassed himself while in college. He was a good student and an intelligent young man, trying to impress his professors. On one of his first papers, he thought he had done an excellent job, when much to his chagrin, it was returned with red marks. Due to his hearing problems, he had never understood the difference between granted and granite. Through the entire paper, he had been taking things for granite. He remembered that embarrassing lesson for the rest of his life.

Do you have a memory like that?

1 comment:

tlksimpson said...

Hmmmmm.....I think I STILL have our (snail mail) correspondence from when I was in college. You mailed me back one of my own letters corrected in pen!!! Cruel, yes, but it awoke something in me. Now I DO miss some of the nitty gritty pronoun posessive plurals, etc, BUT if there is a spelling or grammatical screams at me. I see that even before content. Steve just figured this out about me recently when he asked me to proof a letter for work. I first looked at it for "mistakes" but his question was in regard to content. I read it again because I hardly looked at the content on the first perusal. He thinks my brain works very differently from the average brain....poor guy is JUST figuring this out!!!