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Punctuation Infatuation

In Grammar and Writing on July 9, 2011 at 10:04 am

I have a confession. I am in love with all things grammatical. I love punctuation, grammar rules…even diagramming sentences.

This isn’t a bad addiction. I’m sure English teachers the world over would approve. The only downside is that it makes online dating a miserable experience. For example, a message such as this one can bring tears to one’s eyes:

dateing is hard was my profile wroung . you are apreity young laddy and youre daughter looks like you . have a good day .

No, seriously. You laugh and groan, but that’s what I get in my inbox.

I understand that I’m opening myself up to potential judgement by making this confession. From now on, everyone will expect perfection. Great! Now I have to proof read my posts a zillion times before publishing. I am not nearly so judgmental about Twitter and Facebook posts as I am about published, professional writing and broadcast media such as TV and radio. If a person is getting paid to write or report, they should take the time to do it correctly. For example, a Times-Picayune editor should have proofed this headline another time or two.

Being a lover of grammar makes reading magazines, blogs, emails and such a cringing experience. Last week, I read a few good blog posts on this very topic, and I want to share one with you. Some were so funny I LOL’d. Like this article Crouching typo, hidden error: 4 mistakes that spell-check won’t catch by Lisa McLendon. Just the title is enough for me to want to bake Lisa a cake. She talks about the importance of knowing your stuff because SpellCheck will not catch everything. There are some words, such as peek vs peak and rites vs rights, that require an understanding of the meaning in order to use them correctly. (Do I even have to mention there, their, they’re and to, two, too?)

One of my biggest pet peeves is when a person THINKS they know the correct way to say something…but they don’t. No, you and I may go to the movies, but no one bakes a cake for you and I. That is WRONG! I don’t care how special it makes you feel to say “you and I” in EVERY instance. If it is following a preposition, the correct choice of pronouns is “you and me.” This error is so common that I cringe saying it correctly because I know there are more people out there who think the INCORRECT way is the CORRECT way.

My worst nightmare is not zombies. My nightmare is picturing the day when “for you and I” becomes so normal that “they” change the rule, making it the correct way.  Since the Grammar Apocalypse hasn’t happened YET, let me mention the rules. When following a preposition, used as the OBJECT of said preposition, one must use the OBJECTIVE case of the pronoun (i.e. me, us, you [singular], you [plural], him, her, it, them). When used as the subject of a sentence, the subjective (or nominative) case of pronouns is correct (i.e. I, we, you, you, he, she, it, they). If in doubt, rephrase the sentence in your mind. “She baked a cake for him and me.” “She baked a cake for me.” “She baked a cake for him.” “He and I went to the movies.” “I went to the movies.” “He went to the movies.” Breaking it down in this way makes the decision of pronoun choice simple.

Simple, at least until we all become Grammar Zombies. Zombies are only bad when you are not one. Who doesn’t want to be hobbling around, munching on brains, dressed like Nirvana?

  1. Well I’m glad I am oblivious to grammar. I would rather be water boarded than be an English teacher.

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