Friday, October 15, 2010

Thou Shalt Not Judge

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.


Beth Mann said...

Okay, I nearly hyperventilated on that second to last paragraph, so I can imagine how hard that was to write. On that note:

*deep breath*

I think you're blog is the most best thing I've have ever red and it makes me laugh accept when your telling me I don't right write.

Gorilla Bananas said...

You look too young to be an expert in grammar not that I'm judging you.

WalksLikeAnEgyptian said...

If I tell u I think your h0t will u give me an A+?

PlZ lEmMe Kn0, TeAcHeR L0L!

(This comment contains many things I hate. You asked for it. Also, you *are* quite a hot piece of a--pple pie.)

Anonymous said...

eVen when texting i use commas because their super cute dont you think i mean really who hates on commas there the best if you dont use commas yer a dummy

(As funny as it is to be grammatically incorrect, my eyes are reeling from the horror of it all)....

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Oh my, the poor student. How many times did you read that email, thinking: "For real?"

Dude, did I place that comma after email right? that one always stumps me. And should email have a dash? Another stumper.

Joanna St. James said...

hi my name is le-a and the -(dash)dont be silent either.
But seriously u teach college level? you really dont look old enuf

Theresa Milstein said...

Is that a reel ladder? If sew, that student kneads sum sirius help.

How did you get your grammar up to snuff?

Jeffrey Beesler said...

No big deal if I give you fragment!

Carolyn Abiad said...

Please be my grammar fairy godmother! Or at least lend me the magic wand

James Garcia Jr said...

My Captain,
I agree with you that grammar matters. I have mentioned this before how I read so many notes and e-mails at my work place by so-called professionals that are crafted only slightly better than the note your student sent you.
I must confess, however, that I only leave you comments after crafting several drafts first! ;)

The Invisible Seductress said...

Oh my...the freedom from da rules has made me extra feisty!! I come for the humor, I stay for the education!!!

Julie Musil said...

I've struggled with the apostrophe in "its." Why oh why can't I just realized it's only for "it is?" Unless it's for something other than that. See? I get very confused.

Thanks for not judging. Makes me feel more comfortable leaving gory-grammar comments.

MartyrMom said...

English has always held a fascination for me but I have problems with run on sentences cause I never know where to put the comma or where to put the period or when to stop the sentence or what really does make something a run on sentence and I always feel when you take a breath you should put a period. Is that correct???? thanks for the help/lessons!

Meg O. said...

oh em gee i luv ur blog, your awesome. the student shud half got a proof-readr.

I can't do it. EEK! Anyway, this blog post made my irritating evening become normal again.

Anonymous said...

I'll admit that at first I was a little apprehensive knowing that you were reading my blog, but your delivery is just so friendly and funny, you've put me at ease. And I don't feel so alone knowing that I make common (and comma) mistakes that everyone else makes too. I'm glad you do what you do the way you do it! - G

Anonymous said...

I posted yous blurb 'bout da professor guy asking dudes and dudettes in his class to place those comma thingies where they thinked they should go on Facebook (and gave you credit).

Stephen Tremp

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Congrats on your award from Janet's blog. :)

I'm with you on the commas. I used to rewrite sentences if I wasn't sure what to do with the comma. Though I'm positive some commas appear out of nowhere once I turn the computer off because they weren't there when I wrote the sentence. ;)

Hart Johnson said...

*gigglesnort* DUDE! your hot! Totally made my day.

That poor student--imagine being so deluded that you didn't even KNOW how bad it was. GRAMMAR MATTERS!

I have a comma fetish,totally use too many of them. (though I'm incapable of not saying I know THAT one should have been a semi-colon *dies* I need punctuation anonymous)

Mary Aalgaard said...

the hole reason that i read your blog is to laugh at the wonderful and comfusing world of language usage please keep righting it for all of us!

Janet Johnson said...

I wood not never judge someone four there grammar! That is just wrgon!

And I won you an award at my blog if u want. :)

Abby Stevens said...

I found your blog through Jamie Grey, and I just wanted to say how "xtremely!! awsome!!" your blog title is.

And it makes me sad to think that people get out of high school writing on the level that student does. Not judging her - I'm sure there's a reason she writes like that, whether it be poor funding, untrained teachers, parents who didn't place a high value on education, or what have you - but it's really sad. :(