“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.”
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:
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.
- I often start sentences with ‘and’ or ‘but’.
- My most overused word is ‘that’.
- I often end a sentence with a preposition.
- I believe in the Oxford comma.
- I struggle with punctuation inside or outside a parenthetical phrase.
- Sometimes I use one dash instead of two for an Em dash.
- I am sure I was taught to capitalize after a semicolon, but I cannot find proof of that.
- 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. 🤫🤭🤐