Second Generation Grammar Police

I used Grammarly to grammar check this post, because I didn’t want to be thrown in Grammar prison…by my mother.

Grammar

Seriously. I carry on the proud tradition of being second generation Grammar Police. My mother is the cause for my passion for writing and my tendency to correct people. As a person who learned her English as a secondary language, both the words and the grammar she learned were very proper. Slang was something with which she was completely unfamiliar.

“Ain’t is not a word” was a common refrain I heard in my household growing up. Of course when Mr. Webster was kind enough to make revisions, it was with glee that I announced to mom that ain’t had officially been recognized.

Maybe the fact that I noticed should have been a warning as to my own tendencies, but it wasn’t. Nope. While most kids played house, I played library and forced my kid sister to play along by checking out my books. I even tried to charge her late fees. Yeah, you guessed it. My mom came along and put an end to that part of the game. Still, my calling never occurred to me and it never occurred to me that there could be “good” and “bad” grammar police.

It wasn’t until the day I found my poor sister’s cookbook that I realized I’d become my mother. The poor girl was maybe in 6th grade when I found it. She had the misfortune of spelling the word chocolate phonetically (chocklet). As is the case in most sibling relationships, I poked fun. Yes, this would be a good example of Bad Grammar Cop behavior. Mockery and abuse of power never fall in the “good” category.

As mean as I was to my sister, it was worse for potential suitors at that age. When I was in Junior High/Middle School, when boyfriends would send me love notes, I’m a bit ashamed of what I did. I took a red pen to their notes and corrected their spelling and grammar. I also sent it back for a re-write. Maybe I’m the only person who’s ever done this, maybe not. Either way, it’s a miracle I had so many boyfriends back then or that they actually used to fix their work. 😉 Yes, this also fell in the “bad” category…but may explain why my English teachers used to love pairing me with their more “grammatically challenged” students for writing assignments and projects.

Fortunately, times have changed and I’ve spent the next several decades using my powers for the forces of good. 😉 I’ve become the gal my friends and family call to proof papers and double check resumes.

Recently my skills were put to work by a friend who went to work for one of the local counties. Because his reports became legal documents that could be subpoenaed, he was very concerned with utilizing the proper words. He’d come to realize that there were way too many words in the English language that sounded alike and needed help. He called me:

Him: What’s the difference between then and than?
Me: One is a comparison. The other is what comes next.
Him: Okaaaay….
Me: Do you need me to use them in sentences that will help you remember?
Him: Yes.
Me: (Knowing my audience and what motivates him, I constructed the sentences.) Than with an ‘a’ would go something like this. “I’m better than you.” Comparison. See?
Him: Better than you. Got it. What about the other one?
Me: We took off our clothes, then we had sex. Next step.
Him: Ooh! Okay. Got it. I’m better than you is with an ‘a’. Then we had sex is with an ‘e’. I’ll never forget again.
Me: Why am I not surprised?
Him: Because you know me well. Hey, can you make me a little cheat sheet of other words that sound the same. You’re good at making it so I’ll remember.
Me: Sure…

Yes, I’d learned how to use my powers for the forces of good. To build people up and help them remember. In fact, I even made him that cheat sheet on the most commonly misused words. Wanna see?

There- used when referring to a location. “Sit over there.”
Their- plural possessive. “Seven is their dog.”
They’re- Actually 2 words combined. They are. “They’re lying.”

Two- the number “Two heads are better than one.”
Too- also “I love dogs, too!”
To- expresses a motion toward a direction/action “There is nothing to do.”

Wear- What a person puts on their body. “I have nothing to wear.”
where- destination based. “Where did he go?
Ware- something to be sold. “She stood in the courtyard selling her wares.”

I also recommended he buy Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss. I should have recommended Grammarly, too!

What about you guys? Any quirks, habits or stories to share around the complications of the English language or run ins with grammar police? Maybe you’re the grammar police. How did you discover your calling? What did you do? What drives you crazy?

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32 thoughts on “Second Generation Grammar Police

  1. Emma says:

    Lol, Kitt. You took a red pen to love letters. When I’m on Facebook and I see people writing “their” instead of “there” or “they’re”, it drives me nuts. Same when I see “it’s” when it should be “its”.

    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      LOL! Thanks. Oddly enough, those particular turns of phrase helped him correct fellow co-workers… Of course when he explained how he knew with those particular sentences… Let’s just say I got a bit concerned that he could have been reported for improper conduct.

  2. Carl D'Agostino says:

    I read Lynn Truss. She’s funny and brilliant in presentation. The one that gets me is misplaced modifier “only”. Depending on intent “He
    only hits Jeff” should be “He hits Jeff only” in most cases. It is in all print media as well as spoken media and who/whom same errors.

  3. Cowboys and Crossbones says:

    Oh I share your grammar passion! They’re/there/their is my absolute worst pet peeve. Although, when I spell blonde in reference to myself, I do it with an “e” because I took French and it’s the female form. Then I worry people might judge me! 🙂

  4. renxkyoko says:

    My Mom is a grammar police. * hey, y’know we came from the Philippines, like your Mom, haha * Mom hates hearing the Most Prettiest , etc. She still remembers one of the questions in her elementary school English grammar test…. Correct this… It’s raining, aren’t they ? ” LOL

  5. Tana Bevan says:

    In my early 20s I was secretary for “the Old Man” who was in his mid-80s. One day he gave me a gift. It was a grammar book. I asked him why. He claimed I was “commatose,” forever putting in commas where they didn’t belong and removing them from where they ought to be.

  6. Don't Quote Lily says:

    I hear you! All those mistakes drive me bat crazy. I just don’t get why it’s so hard for some people. Would of/could of instead of would’ve/could’ve, or your vs you’re, or its vs it’s, etc…they’re all so annoying. It’s like people have never heard of contractions or apostrophes! It comes so naturally to me (though it’s technically my 2nd language), that I just don’t get why it’s so hard for some people. If English is your first language, and you’ve gone to grade school, there’s just no excuse. 😀

  7. filbio says:

    Oh no. Your one of those people! Well, than, I better make sure my grammer is correct. Weather it be on compliments or my blog posts.They’re will be a few mistakes I don’t want you to find and slap the cuffs on me for!

  8. brickhousechick says:

    This is so funny Kitt. I to like good grammer. I am a desent speller and am better then most! I hate it when pipol missspell things to! 🙂 You are brilliant to add sex to a form of remembering something! He definitely won’t forget that one.

    My Spanish really helped me with spelling. I could sound words out and be able to spell them. 🙂

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