Get rid of cursive writing? Stop requiring children to memorize the multiplication tables? Yes, these are two issues that have been talked about in the education field lately. Why learn to write cursive when we type on computers now? Well, some say writing cursive helps brain development, and it certainly is faster than printing. Besides, how will people know how to sign their names?
Memorizing the multiplication tables has been a necessary part of math since forever. Now, we can just take out our smartphones when trying to compare prices in the grocery store. No need to memorize.
This dumbing down has also extended to grammar. Being a grammarian, I am offended by attempts to get rid of grammar rules simply because they are “too difficult” for people to grasp.
For example, there was a rumor, or at least a suggestion, that we forget the distinction between who and whom because it is too difficult to understand. Likewise, even Webster says that we can now use their in the singular (e.g., Everyone is bringing their dogs: Everyone is actually singular, matching the singular verb is; and their should also be singular to agree; the correct pronoun is the clunky his or her. Rewriting is the best solution.)
Since the purpose of writing (and speaking) is primarily communication, why do we need to follow grammar, punctuation, and spelling rules, anyway? As long as we can understand what someone is trying to say, who cares if the grammar, punctuation, and spelling is correct? Well, although I can’t think of a good reason why, I care! And you probably care too. And your English professor will care. Probably your boss will care too. There is something to be said for consistency and pattern. And “rightness.”
Let’s switch from the philosophical to the practical. You probably see or hear mistakes in writing and speaking all the time….and perhaps some of them drive you nuts! Perhaps you wish you could just take a marker and correct mistakes you see on signs and menus. In fact, two people did just that a few years ago. They drove across the United States, correcting hundreds of signs along the way (search online for The Great Typo Hunt).
There are lots of confusing issues in the English language: grammar, punctuation, word usage, spelling, and pronunciation. Here are just a few of the more common:
1 – Using a comma instead of a period or a semicolon between sentences. You cannot use a comma to separate two complete sentences unless you use a conjunction, such as and or but.
Wrong: I got the tickets, I hope you can come with me.
Right: I got the tickets; I hope you can come with me.
2 – Using your instead of you’re. Maybe it’s just laziness?
Wrong: Your welcome.
Right: You’re welcome.
3 – Confusing lay and lie. Remember that you must lay something.
Wrong: I think I will lay down.
Right: I think I will lie down. I will lay my blanket down.
4 – Pronouncing the word mischievous as mischeevious.
5 – Using the wrong verb form.
Wrong: have went, have swam, have rang, have wrote
Right: have gone, have swum, have rung, have written
Who and whom, affect and effect, I and me and myself….I could write a book! I did! Two actually.
Image is from the Microsoft Office Clipart Collection
Guest Author Bio
Arlene Miller is the author of The Best Little Grammar Book Ever and Correct Me If I’m Wrong. Also known as The Grammar Diva, she teaches English in the public schools, teaches grammar and business writing at colleges and corporations, edits both fiction and nonfiction, blogs about grammar, and continues to write. She has written a novel under the pseudonym JoJo Baker and is hard at work on The Best Grammar Workbook Ever, coming out this coming fall.
Not just a grammarian, Arlene has also been a tap dancer, full-time mom, technical writer, and newspaper reporter. A Starbucks-holic, Arlene lives in Wine Country, California with her chihuahua, her two children having had the nerve to leave the nest empty! Visit Arlene’s website and sign up for her blog at www.bigwords101.com.
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