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THE GRAMMAR POLICE

February 24, 2016

It’s funny how as writers, we live and breathe grammar. Well, one would think that until as an editor, you see some of the manuscripts that come across your virtual desk (or sometimes real one). Since writer’s come in all shapes and sizes, cultures and educations, from all walks of life, the mix of skills varies widely.

Even if not a writer, simply going to school and paying attention, absorbing a few English classes, pursuing other paths that require writing can infuse one with a fundamental, if not decent command of our language.

Hence, the grammar police.

I see it all the time, and for some reason, lately on Facebook. Okay…part of it is my fault. I’m just as guilty of perpetuating the trend. I’ve posted a few rants when I’ve noticed supposedly well-trained journalists who can’t tell the difference between American and the Queen’s English. Just this morning I saw a rant from a friend with a list of comparison words that people often get wrong. It happened to be keyed to political rants where the “opposing side” appears to have a fourth grade edjamacation. Tell you what—I have to agree with them. Sometimes, these people need to do a little grammar check before they do their rants so they don’t look so stupid.

Folks, just because we’re writers, doesn’t mean we’re the only ones noticing the bad grammar out there!

WHAT THIS BOILS DOWN TO

First off, writing should be a passion, a drive and not just a “hobby.” To get the best work out of you, this should be something you love and need to do, not just something you’re doing as a quirk. It will show in what you end up with.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t try to see if you really like it. Of course! If it works out and the spark is lit, then you’ve found your muse. If not, but you have a massive tome you still want to get published, get it overwith and move on (this is the worst circumstance because there’s no passion).

If you’ve found the muse, you need to star honing your craft. That means, you need to go to the grammar police training academy!

You as a writer, need to learn the difference between to, too and two, for instance.

You need to learn the difference between toward and towards.

You need to learn the difference between OK and okay.

How about your and you’re?

As little as these things are, they make a HUGE difference in context.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS AREN’T EVERYTHING

First impressions are surely important (and don’t call me Shirley, boy I love that line!). However, sloppy grammar instills a sense of What else? in the reader, as if they’re not just unguarded moments. You’re not only being human, it’s like you’re not necessarily that person doing the writing. Maybe you’re depending too much on someone else to do your work for you. Like you have a ghost writer doing most of the work. Ever thought of that?

An occasional typo is not what I’m talking about. Occasional typos happen. Stuff happens. I’m quite infamous for them and make no apologies. When I write my articles, even though I might read through them multiple times, there is still the forest through the trees deal going on. What I meant to say and what I sometimes say don’t always match up. I don’t catch everything. That’s not quite the same as bad grammar.

Blatant bad grammar is blatant bad grammar. When a writer has bad grammar, it shows everywere, not just in an occasional slipped up word!

If you give the impression that everything you write needs an editor, even personal correspondence, then that gives the impression that you need huge crutches just to get ANYTHING out the door.

In other words, basically, you just generate ideas and someone else is the writer!

Ever think of that?

Hmmm.

THE GRAMMAR POLICE

As annoying or obnoxious as the grammar police may seem, as a writer, you’d better not be on the dark side! I have to make a few points before I close.

#1 It’s not a good idea to correct everyone personally! There’s nothing more obnoxious than constantly correcting people’s grammar! Egad! I’m certainly not preaching that (and excuse the excessive use of exclamation marks)! If you want to say anything, make general statements on social media or drop hints with rants or essays, like I’m doing.

#2 This is for you to work on for yourself.

#3 When typing personal messages, especially on a phone or say…Facebook, sometimes those tools can have a mind of their own. They have a tendency to put in letters and words you never intended either through a keyboard with a mind of its own or through grammar or spell or letter correction. Be careful not to hit send until you’re ready!

#4 Proper grammar can sometimes be tricky. It doesn’t hurt to ask or go on line and look something up if you feel too embarrassed to ask. It’s better than putting it out there for the whole world to see.

Happy writing!

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