Every now and then, on this blog and elsewhere, people will express their trepidation about letting me see their writing because they’re afraid I will judge them based on their grammar.
Believe it or not, I really don’t. Technically, I do judge my students’ grammar when I grade their essays, but even their writing ability doesn’t affect what I think of them as people. In general, I tend to have an affinity for the students who laugh at my jokes, compliment my outfits, and my favorites are the ones who tell me I don’t look old enough to teach college.
I like to think of myself less as the grammar police and more as a fairy grammar godmother. I don’t want to castigate people for misplacing a comma; I want to provide people with the tools they need to turn their writing from pumpkins to sparkling coaches.
If I did judge people based on their grammar, I would be a hypocrite. I don’t know all the grammar rules. I am sure I make mistakes all the time. I didn’t even know technically where to put a comma until I was hired to teach a class called Writing Skills in 2005. I tried to wing it the first quarter, but I realized that if I didn’t want to look like an asshole in front of my students I’d actually have to learn the rules.
So, I learned the rules, and it has made my writing life so much easier. Before, when I wasn’t sure whether or not a sentence required a comma, I would totally rewrite the sentence so I didn’t have to think about it. I was terrified of the semi-colon, and ( I can’t believe I am going to admit this) I thought a run-on sentence was just a really long sentence. Now, I just feel a lot more confident about my writing, and this blog is a way I can share that knowledge.
Another reason for this blog is to remind people that grammar does still matter. With the informality of texting and Facebook, I have a feeling that people aren't sure whether or not anyone still cares about grammar, especially in emails. Exhibit A: this excerpt from a student’s email:
I was curious to on my grade report I got the letter F by Writing Skills.I'm guessing I didn't pass the class but what I'm curious about is how? Im hopping its a mistake, I know Im not the best at writing, but I did all my homework accept for two assignments and I did some extra credit.I thought I atleast did ok on the finals also. Does this mean I have to pay for it all over again to?
If she doesn't realize that grammar matters when protesting a failing grade to an English teacher, imagine what she is capable of in the real world.
Basically, all I’m doing here at this blog is spreading some grammar love and awareness. I won’t think any less of you if you write the word alot. It’s totally cool if you want to use your instead of you’re. Go ahead (gulp) insert a comma between two complete sentences.
Just to prove that I am sincere, give me your worst. All comments must be grammatically incorrect.