Grammer … ?

Kelsey Grammer?

Nope, he’s an actor (such a fan of Frasier).

I mean grammar. With an “a” (goes to show how important spelling is). The underdog of every subject. And I do mean to refer to it as a subject.

It seems grammar is shamefully overlooked, but what’s funny to me is that so many people don’t realize just how imperative it really is. Think of it this way: A single comma and its placement can change the entire meaning of a sentence and infer something that the writer may not have intended. Which is why the carelessness with which people use (or don’t use) commas appalls me – and that goes for basic grammar rules in general, as well.

Without careful deliberation over comma placement, how could we know what anyone means?

Maybe I’m being a bit over dramatic, but really, grammar is the foundation of our language; without it, run-on sentences would abound, blunders due to misinterpretations would proliferate, and society would have no way of expressing itself.

This doesn’t bother anyone else?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m completely understanding of the fact that grammar isn’t everyone’s thing. Believe me, math, science, and history aren’t my things. Ask me to do a rudimentary math equation and I’ll bet you dollars to donuts I’d get it wrong. So, the last thing I want is for my little grammar rant to be taken as pontificating or as a pompous attempt to force my beliefs onto others. I just, quite simply, would like to spread awareness, as grammar is just always cast aside to the recesses of everyone’s mind, to be given not even a perfunctory glance.

I do believe it deserves a bit more recognition and credit than that.

Gerunds, dangling modifiers, my beloved Oxford comma (AP style be damned) – it all just incites something in me unlike anything else, and I feel the most marvelous sense of satisfaction upon employing my trusty sidekick I call my red pen to slash misspellings, obliterate improperly used commas, and purify the impure.

I guess it’s a good thing I’m in publishing.

Take a classic example of comma misuse (this one is particularly amusing):  “Let’s eat grandpa” versus “Let’s eat, grandpa.”

Now, to someone like me, the error is quite glaring and, frankly, hurts to look at. Without the comma, the sentence insinuates that this individual wants to eat grandpa for dinner (morbid, just in time for Halloween). Therefore, the comma is essential, as it signals that whomever the speaker is is simply addressing the grandfather.

This example is fairly basic, but I will admit that commas can be tricky at times, and I trip up just like anyone else would. No one is infallible, but having basic knowledge could prevent minor writing/comprehension catastrophes, such as the above.

To be completely honest, this post is rather ironic, as just yesterday, my boss showed me an apostrophe I missed. Shameful. But again, no one is infallible. We pick ourselves up and move on with our lives. It only drives me to be even better. Though as a proofreader it’s my job not to miss something like that, allowing myself to succumb to embarrassment would only cause me to make even more needless mistakes. In these scenarios, we tell ourselves that we’re better than that, and we proceed to demonstrate.

And after all, proofreaders are only human.

Just drives me nuts after all the pontificating I do about my proper grammar usage. But alas, I am perfectly imperfect. And I know I’m good at what I do.

editorial assistants

I can honestly say I learned an incredible amount after having started work in the publishing world. Something as simple as the misuse of the phrase “compared to” versus “compared with” could be, well, not so simple. These two phrases may have subtle differences that probably 98% of people would have no idea of, but the incorrect usage could insinuate something slightly different. This is why the English language fascinates me. (By the way, “compared to” is used when looking at similarities only, such as, “She compared her hair to straw,” and “compared with” is used when looking for similarities and differences, such as, “She compared Beth’s test with John’s to see if they had cheated.”)

I would never rebuke someone for using improper grammar, as it’s not my place, unless he or she is a proofreader and it’s his or her job, and again, I understand it’s just not everyone’s thing. Plus, I’ll be the first to admit that the English language is incredibly difficult. But, I speak of it with ardor.

Though the lack of grammar consciousness seems to me a presage of the bleak future of writing, I remain a staunch advocate, indefatigable in my attempts to raise grammar up to the pedestal it deserves.

Okay, I know, again I’m being a little over dramatic. But I say, go, unabashedly, with your passions.


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