Saturday, May 11, 2013

Bad Grammar Cauldron Bubbleth Over

I love Pinterest, and I love reading quotations there.

Except when there are egregious typos or grammar errors.

Then I wince.

Oh, how it hurts to see flagrantly bad grammar used amidst such pretty ideas and pictures. The pin I shared yesterday has a missing comma, but the impact is minimized by a convenient line break and graphic elements. I could overlook that error relatively easily.

I am not nearly as persnickety as I used to be, and I never feel offended by grammar errors in blog comments or Internet forums...casual writing will have errors, and pesky errors creep into the best formal writing on occasion. I sometimes make errors on purpose for rhetorical effect, but I certainly make unintentional errors, too. We're all sinners, and forgiveness usually comes easily for me.

But not always.

Consider this offender:

I'm sorry, but I just can't let this go. Let's itemize the errors here from a purist's perspective.

1. No beginning quotation mark. There's a quotation mark at the end, but not one at the beginning. Both or neither, please.

2. Comma error. Generally, do not use a comma before because. It's a subordinating conjunction, not a coordinating conjunction connecting two independent clauses.

3. Pronoun error. Most properly, he/she should apply only to humans, but I've always felt that was rude to animals. I like anthropomorphosis and give the world permission to anthropomorphize to its heart's content. If you're going to make the bird a girl by using her, however, you may not change to its in the same sentence. Her/her or its/its would be correct. Her/it's is most definitely not.

4. Its/It's usage error. It's is a contraction of it is. Its is a possessive pronoun. You wouldn't type her's, would you? I know this is confusing because apostrophe s usually indicates possession, but pronouns violate that rule. Remember that we're writing English. It often does not make sense unless you spend a few semesters studying linguistics, and even then, it does not make much sense.

5. Preposition choice. Perhaps this is nit-picking, but usually we trust in something. We do not trust on something.

"A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking because her trust is not in the branch but in her own wings. Always believe in yourself."

That's so much better.

I feel better.

I hope you do, too.


  1. I agree with you. Your version is much more eloquent.
    In this age of texting, I fear grammar and spelling are becoming obsolete. I believe a new English genre is evolving, let's call it Techno English. The English of my great grandparents is almost unrecognizable to my children now, imagine what another generation of gadgets will do to it.
    I recently read that almost half of todays college entry students could not write in cursive, and many could not even read it. They have learned to keyboard at a very young age and rely on spellcheck to catch their errors, so words like its and it's are often missed. In Techno English its no big deal.
    (As I typed this on my iPad, all of the punctuation marks are not on my condensed keyboard, forcing me to switch to a second keyboard for an ' or " which is such a p.i.t.a., why bother?)

  2. I RARELY use shortcuts when texting, especially to my kids. I feel that I'm being a bad example if I do, LOL!!

    I'm horrible at the correct use of comma's, as I always want to use them for a "pause", but I abhor the misuse of "there, their, they're". People....figure it out!!


Thanks so much for taking time to comment!