Linda Studley

Can't Put the Pen Down…

Confessions of a reluctant grammarian


I get teased a lot because sloppy English usage irritates me. Not the honest, “I’m doing my best but I really don’t understand the difference between they’re and there,” type of mistakes, but the ones made by those who should know better and don’t seem to care. That makes me the “English Nazi” or the “Grammarian”. The silly part of all this is that I’m not ‘English perfect’ either! I have high school English and a couple of creative writing courses behind me. I make mistakes all the time.

Like ‘lose’ and ‘loose’; I have a mind-numbing inability to keep those straight and often use one in place of the other. Just one of those short circuits that happen I guess. I look for those words now and work at using them correctly. And the word ‘syrup’; it took a lot of teasing by my husband reminding me that it’s spelled ‘syrup’ in English before I stopped spelling it ‘sirop’ (the French spelling. It also pops up sometimes when I spell ‘dance’ as ‘danse’).

What irritates me is not the poor grammar, it’s the absence of caring about it.

I know someone who will remain nameless who I tease constantly, in a friendly way, for incorrect spellings. But I admire her greatly because she takes the teasing the way it is meant; gentle urgings to try harder, to be aware of the things that trip her up. And she never gives up trying, despite reading problems, she reads, she makes the effort and I think it has made her a stronger person. Or perhaps she makes the effort because she’s a strong person. In any case, I admire her greatly; not for her spelling, but for her tenacity, because she cares.

I wrote a poem about the English language and some of its strange and annoying characteristics. It’s called “Whatifs and Whynots” and I’ll post it right after this post.

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