Grammar, Get in Here And Wash Your Hands!

“If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do for them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.”

Dorothy Parker

I was once a self-professed grammar nerd. Now, my grammar is not so clean and tidy. What happened? How did I get so lazy?

I suppose I could blame it on social media. Twitter decided we could say all that needed saying in 140 short characters. They tossed punctuation and grammar out the window.

All the fault does not lie there, though. The smartphone helped with the introduction of texting, spellcheck, and emojis. (Did you know there is an emojipedia website and a timeline for the introduction of new emojis?) Why use words when you can say everything with an emoji?

Enter the ‘serial comma’, also known as the ‘Oxford comma’. Since when did grammar become fluid? I am still reeling from the declassification of Pluto as a planet.

I have a copy of The Elements of Style. I rarely refer to it when writing informally. Blogging is informal, so my grammar has followed suit. When I did a search of best books for grammar, The Elements of Style did not always come up in the search results. I was I intrigued by the titles I did see.  Look at this article from Penguin Random House for example:

14 Books for Grammar Nerds

Are any of them in your library?

In school, I loved diagramming sentences. I wonder if I could still diagram a complex sentence. Do English teachers even teach that these days? (Old lady speak.)

I am here to confess my grammar sins.

  1. I often start sentences with ‘and’ or ‘but’.
  2. My most overused word is ‘that’.
  3. I often end a sentence with a preposition.
  4. I believe in the Oxford comma.
  5. I struggle with punctuation inside or outside a parenthetical phrase.
  6. Sometimes I use one dash instead of two for an Em dash.
  7. I am sure I was taught to capitalize after a semicolon, but I cannot find proof of that.
  8. That old habit of typing two spaces after a period —(remember typing class?) (should that question mark be there?) — was hard to break. How many blatant errors can I stuff in one sentence? Technology advances eliminated the need for those two spaces.

Maybe I will peruse The Elements of Style again as a refresher. In the meantime, feel free to confess your grammar sins in the comments below. Your secret is safe with me. 🤫🤭🤐


32 thoughts on “Grammar, Get in Here And Wash Your Hands!”

  1. I don’t go for text speak, and try to make sure I don’t repeat myself too much in my posts. Grammar errors are usually with its and it’s, or my typos aren’t noticed until after I’ve published!!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I gave up on strict grammar rules once I left school, though misplaced apostrophes still annoy me, as in ‘Strawberrie’s for sale’. I also get frustrated by ‘Your instead of You’re’, and ‘There instead of Their’.
    But I do start sentences with a but.
    And I also start sentences with an and.
    I also use the Oxford comma. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have a myriad of pet hates. They include use of “of” instead of “have”, different to, and misuse of less and fewer. I’m a bit of a pedant when it comes to written quantities too, and will write, in full, one to nine, and then use numerals depending on context.
    I had never heard of diagramming sentences. Apparently it was a purely American phenomenon!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I generally write out numbers. I think diagramming sentences was a way of teaching the different parts of a sentence and I think it worked well. Not everyone loved it though.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I loved grammar in school. I could diagram any sentence. I even took an upper level college class on it. I was a grammar nerd before the term was invented, but then I started blogging and decided to loosen my style. I still try to abide by most of the rules in The Elements of Style, but give myself the grace to go with the flow. Except for the Oxford comma. That is something to which I cling.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I share some of your grammar “sins,” especially trying to start sentences with “that ” and “and.” I’m always aware of “omit needless words” from Elements of Style, although not always compliant…. That darn extra space after a period is a hard habit to break, too. I’m quite confident I use the Oxford comma, too, although I didn’t know that name.

    Working on my narrative about Quebec has reminded me again of grammar “rules” – I’m normally compliant, I think, aside from undoubted dash violations. Ha, ha.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. They aren’t technically grammar issues, but I tend to use the ampersand for the word “and” and I’ve taken to shortening some words, like “thru” for “through,” “tho” for “though” or “although,” and “thoro” for “thorough.”

    I think they doubled the character limit to 280 on Twitter. You can also post threads to Twitter like this:
    Not that I use Twitter except to let people know I have a new post…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ihave Twitter but I mainly use it to read. I thought they had increased the word count.

      I am not big on shortening words, but my children! I need a texting dictionary!


      1. They’ve made it such that you can post threads of tweets that are as big as a blog post, but each individual tweet can only be 280 characters.

        The Chicago Tribune spearheaded a drive back in the 1920’s to use simplified spelling (e.g. thru for through), but I don’t think it caught on. I use it sometimes, tho…


  7. I was the weirdo teacher who loved to teach diagramming sentences. I so remember writing in green for nouns, red for verbs, purple for adjectives, etc. It was fun to me. I know, I know, I was a silly woman. Maybe switching to teaching science was a good thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I diagrammed my fair share of sentences back in the day. I might have been among the last to do so. I wound up getting my BA in Marine Biology and English.
    It still feels funny (to me) not to put two spaces after a period. Ah, modern times…
    Biggest peeve: “All Right” is Two. Distinct. Words. – NOT the one word hybrid! You get the idea.
    I also cringe whenever I read what my husband writes. Grammar is far from being his strong suit! Sometimes he asks me to proofread and correct for him; other times, I do it anyway. I don’t recall that capitalization after the semicolon rule, though…
    Oh yes, Oxford Comma For Life. So there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I tried to rebel about the two spaces after a comma, but online, it will truly distort the formatting of your post.

      Grammar is not necessarily easy, especially given the current school limitations these days. I do not know how children will get out of high school and learn all that we were taught in addition to all the new curriculum changes.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I could write about grammar all day, and my errors would be few. I love all the comments your readers have made. I don’t know Ally Bean, but, based solely on her comment, I like her.

    A public service billboard near my house reads:

    “One in five children go to bed hungry every night.”

    I almost bought an extension ladder and paint, but I fear heights more than I hate grammar errors.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Debbie, I think we have almost become numb to grammar, especially in certain types of media. I had to re-read your sentence twice myself before I caught the error.

      I agree about Ally. I am sure she would appreciate another follower. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.