Do you celebrate March 4th?

linguistics.ohio.edu

linguistics.ohio.edu

Perhaps I should be more specific: did you know that March 4th is celebrated in the US as National Grammar Day, and do you care?

As a writer, I’m interested in my tools (words), and in using them effectively. Just as an artist might cringe to see someone leaving a paintbrush squashed bristle-end-down in a can, I feel some pain when words get mangled or tied together badly. I have a short list of grammatical gaffs that get under my skin, as many people do.

One such is the use of ‘and I,’ as in “that’s never been a problem for Clive and I.” It’s generally an over-correction. Trying hard to avoid making the “me and Tara are leaving now” mistake,* people often banish “me” across the board.

However Clive and I feel about whatever it was, it really needs to be ‘Clive and me’ in that sentence, something we find out by using the foolproof method of asking Clive to sit out briefly to see how it looks without him: “that’s never been a problem for I” is, in fact, quite a problem. So when we ask Clive to join in again, we’ll be talking about the thing that has never been a problem for Clive and me.

You may have a tidy list of grammar gaffs you’d like to see remedied. What I’m interested in is the fact that while some mistakes are easy for me to see, and in fact difficult for me to un-see, the ones I ought to be more concerned about are the ones I’m making that go by unnoticed. I wonder who notices my mistakes? I’m not fool enough to think I don’t make any.

I did manage to catch one recently out of the corner of my eye, and I’m doing my best to wrestle it into submission, but it’s hard to fix what’s hard to see. If a mistake of mine is on your list, you’ll tell me, won’t you?

 

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from stevedennie.com

 

*when my sister would make this announcement, my dad would usually say something about not having realized that Tara was mean. I cannot report whether the teasing caused my sister to mend her ways, but she has a graduate degree in English and has taught writing at a university, so the job got done, one way or another.

 

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2 thoughts on “Do you celebrate March 4th?

  1. Lori, as a fellow grammar nerd, I can relate. My internet pet peeve is “it’s” versus “its” – I just can’t stand it. I promise to let you know if I spot something grammatically off in your writing… but I doubt I ever will!

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