Tuesday, November 30, 2010
You are correct. It’s Justin Bieber’s hair.
To show that the hair belongs to Justin Bieber, as you can see, we add an ’s to the end of his name.
Whose head is this?
Wrong! It's not Bruce Willis's; it's Britney Spears's head.
To show that the head belongs to Ms. Spears, we also add an ’s. But because her name ends in an s, if we feel like the pronunciation would be too awkward with the extra s, we have the option to simply add the ’ without the s:
Britney Spears’ head
Whose black coats are melding together?
You are correct. Those are the Olsen twins’ coats.
Because the coats belong to both twins, we place the apostrophe after the s, which shows that the coats belong to both twins. If we wrote the Olsen twin’s coats, it would incorrectly imply that the coats only belonged to one of the twins.
To illustrate why apostrophe placement is so important, let’s take a walk down Olsen twin lane.
Remember a few years ago when Mary Kate’s struggle with anorexia was all over the tabloids? Imagine that this was a US Weekly magazine headline:
Olsen Twins’ Struggle with Anorexia Intensifies
The apostrophe’s placement suggests that both Olsen twins struggled with anorexia. Because of the tabloid’s strict policy on the integrity of their material, US Weekly would simply be mortified to discover that their tiny punctuation faux pas incorrectly implied Ashley had an eating disorder too.
Well, that’s it for apostrophes. I’m off to read about where Brad and Jennifer are secretly meeting this week.
Friday, November 26, 2010
After unsuccessfully trying to win my students over with promises of knowledge and better writing skills, I resorted to bribery: if they merely pretended to be interested in the next lesson, I promised to let them out fifteen minutes early. Even that only kind of worked. Midway through the next lesson, a student randomly asked me, “What are you doing for Thanksgiving, Ms. Baranick?”
I plan on letting the trivial things in my life fall by the waistline.
I like how this one thinks. I’m all for letting my waistline fall by the wayside on Thanksgiving too.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
First of all- and most disturbing- did you know that on the day after Thanksgiving plumbers receive the most emergency calls? Eeeeeew!
Adjective: I deserve a thank-you note.
Noun: You at least owe me a thank-you.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Can you imagine having your name followed by the word forever on Johnny Depp’s arm? He must have been really into her. And I totally get it; I was really into her too. During the late 80s/early 90s, I pretty much wanted to be her- especially in Heathers and Reality Bites. If tattoo transfusions were an option, I would have signed up.
As you can imagine, I was pretty disappointed when I heard about the whole shoplifting scandal. Considering the number of times I rented Heathers, Winona should have had plenty of money to buy whatever she wanted.
And I don’t know how I feel about the excuse she gave to the security guard who caught her: that she was shoplifting to research for a role.
On the one hand, it sounds as lame as Lindsay Lohan telling the police that the pants she was wearing with cocaine in the pockets were not hers.
But, on the other hand, maybe she did actually think it was okay. Celebrities have their asses kissed all day. They get sent to rehab instead of jail. They are sex addicts rather than cheaters. They suffer from exhaustion rather than coming down from drugs. So, it is possible that she actually didn’t know any better; maybe she thought that if she needed to research for a role it would be totally cool because she was Winona ‘Effin Ryder.
Which of those scenarios is worse: ignoring the rules or ignorance?
I often ask myself the same question regarding the errors found in my students’ essays.
Is it worse when they actually know better but don’t proofread their work as carefully as they should and end up making silly errors (e.g., writing pubic instead of public)?
Or is it worse when they make errors because they don’t know the rules (e.g., sticking commas all over the place so that reading it gives you whiplash)?
Friday, November 12, 2010
“The Rachel” phenomenon is just one of the many examples of how incredibly influenced we are by celebrities. Of course, it shouldn’t be that way. We should be inspired by our nurses, our teachers, our artists and our caretakers. But the reality is most of us would probably aspire to be more like George Clooney than George Washington.
This is why I appreciate when celebrities, like George Clooney, are outspoken about humanitarian causes. I know that some people get annoyed with the likes of George and Angelina and Bono for appearing a little holier than thou, but the truth is that people copy celebs.
One of the aspects people copy most from celebrities is the way they dress, so I’d like to thank the following celebrities for trying to promote grammar awareness through their fashion:
Heidi Klum is promoting an issue that is very dear to my own heart: she would like to remind everyone not to miss their periods.
In a surprising move, Jennifer Lopez, never one to hide from the spotlight, promotes punctuation that whispers subtlety. With her breasts cradled by parentheses, she is conveying that her cleavage is by no means the focal point of this ensemble; it is merely an aside.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
The only thing that makes me uncomfortable about grocery shopping is what sometimes happens when I am in the check-out lane. When someone lines up behind me and starts unloading items on the counter, I get anxiety about whether or not to place that rubber stopper between my food and theirs. I don’t want them to feel like I don’t trust them or that I am so cheap I am terrified of paying for their watermelons.
But, then I remind myself, “Jenny, we use the rubber stopper like we use the comma, to separate items from one another so it’s easier on everyone.” And that makes me feel better about slapping it down.
Example: I bought chocolate pudding fruit juice rice milk and beer.
Without the commas, we don’t know if I bought chocolate pudding or chocolate and pudding, fruit juice or fruit and juice, rice milk or rice and milk.
So, we add the commas and it’s crystal clear:
I bought chocolate pudding, fruit, juice, rice milk, and beer.
That's right, I like rice milk.
However, here’s a trickier scenario. Say you are going to the market on your lunch break and your colleague hands you twenty dollars and asks you to buy her a Red Bull. And you think, “Shit, that girl talks enough as it is without an energy drink, and I don’t have any cash, so I am going to have to pay separately for my stuff and her stuff. This sucks!”
Wouldn’t it be nice if, for those rare occasions, the supermarket provided two sizes of rubber stoppers: one small one to divide your items from your colleague’s items and then a larger one to divide your and your colleague’s items from those belonging to the person behind you? Otherwise, don’t you kind of feel guilty, like you are taking two turns in line?
The punctuation world offers something akin to the two sizes of rubber stoppers. If the items we list in a series already contain commas, then we use semi-colons to separate those items:
Last weekend, I shopped at Whole Foods, where I bought my produce; Ralphs, where I bought household items; and Trader Joe’s, where I went because the cute check-out guys always starts up conversations with me.
I know it must be part of the Trader Joe's customer service training, but, what can I say, I’m a sucker for male attention. Now, you see why I need to buy more clothes: so I can wear them when I go grocery shopping.
Friday, November 5, 2010
N= Needs to improve
Effect is a noun that means "a result.”
The barometric pressure also influences my grades.
Barometric pressures below thirty have a negative result on my grades.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
All of these people were in my way: