Michille: The Grammar Police

Parse_tree_1That’s not me. I’m not the Grammar Police. I am a Grammar Police wannabe. It’s on my to-do list to find a refresher course on grammar because I believe mine is somewhat lacking, which is something I usually discover when I go to edit (I don’t worry about it when I’m writing the drafts). I’m not trying to diagram my sentences, but sometimes, I think that would help. Go back to the basics to boil the sentence down.

Basic grammar, I’ve got. Or I think I do. When I thinks of grammar as the whole system and structure of language, how words are used in sentences, how they relate to each other in those sentences, I feel like I have a decent handle on it. I don’t really remember the actual rules of how the language system fits together.

One of the things that made me think of this today is one of my favorite blogs, Writers Write, did a grammar post: 44 Common Confusions to Annoy the Grammar Police. It included a couple of infographics that dealt with common word mis-uses, like affect and effect, appraise and apprise, and bring and take. Where I live, the word bring can be pronounced/used differently. There are a multitude of ways to put brung in a sentence ’round here. Don’t get me started on ‘seen,’ as in, ‘I seen that t’other day.’ I can agree with those listed here as hard and fast rules.

On the other hand, there are the grammar rules that can be broken. When I’m doing my day job, these rules still shouldn’t be broken, but when writing fiction, I agree that it’s okay to break them (sometimes). And certainly they can be broken when writing dialogue. I seen that done before and it don’t bother me overmuch (haha).

How is your grammar and how often do you break? Or break down when dealing with it (or listening to it)?

5 thoughts on “Michille: The Grammar Police

  1. When people misuse “there’s” it is like fingernails on the blackboard to me. Other things I can ignore, but not that. Fewer / less is another. There are some things I always need to look up in order to be sure about what is correct, since you can’t base what is correct on what people say. Nauseous / nauseated. Different from / different than. Those are a couple of things I tend to stumble over.

    Coincidentally, I recently signed up for a grammar course, which I’ll be starting in about a week. If I learn anything interesting I’ll be sure to pass it along.

    In my own writing, whether I follow the “rules” or not depends on how a particular character would speak and what is relevant based on their background and location.

    • I often have to look things up, as well. Its and It’s is just a check in my head as the whether I’m representing a contraction or not. Further and farther are look ups for me. Let me know on the grammar course and where you are taking it (online?). Good luck with it.

  2. I have the same issues, Michille! And as I’ve written more fiction than other kinds of writing over the past two years, I believe my grammar has gotten worse. I’m not sure why that is. I like Elizabeth’s idea of taking a refresher course. Now I just have to find the time to do it. 🙂

  3. In my dayjob, I’m an assistant English teacher, and I would say I have fair grammar. I wind up looking up a lot of grammar though, because just like anything, if you don’t use it, you lose it, and I use a lot of Japanese in daily life. Things can sound right one minute, and wrong the next. I was convinced for a good five minutes that “I look forward to see your program” was right . . . . (“forward to” only takes a noun or a noun-verb called a gerund, though. It should be “seeing” and I am now feeling totally insecure about my language usage).

    One of the “bibles” is Practical English Usage by Michael Swann.

    There are so many rules for using English, and I think a lot of people do forget them unless they have been taught properly. For example, did you know there are rules for ordering your adjectives? It’s supposed to go: 1) opinion, 2) size, 3) physical quality, 4) shape, 5) age, 6) color, 7)origin, 8) material, 9) type, 10) purpose. As native speakers, we know to say “it’s an amazing red coat” and not “it’s a red amazing coat”, but sometimes things get muddled if we start to list things. (Source: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/adjectives-order)

    I once read a New Yorker article about a famous editor who knew everything there was to know about grammar, and was a real champion of doing things right in the name of clarity. I wish I could find it . . . it wasn’t Mary Norris, although she looks like a grammar champion, too.

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