Monday, June 27, 2011

We're All Dogs

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Anthony Weiner, Tiger Woods, David Letterman, Jesse James, Bill Clinton, John Edwards, Jon Gosselin, Ryan Philippe, Mel Gibson, Hugh Grant, Ethan Hawke…

If goddess-like Uma Thurman’s husband sleeps with the nanny, the chances of finding a monogamous man seem pretty bleak, don’t they?

Well, cheer up, ladies; it’s not a bad as you think. A new study shows that the gender cheating gap is closing. Women are reportedly cheating almost as much as men.

Isn’t that great news? I love equality! High five LeAnn Rimes! Way to go J.Lo!

All this sleeping around really helps me understand an issue that I’ve been struggling with for quite a while. You see, I’ve always known that mixing up the words lose and loose is a common error. What I could never understand was why we tend to overuse loose. People more often use loose when they should be using lose rather than the other way around.

Now it makes sense. Because everyone is so sexually loose, they are subconsciously expressing it when they write.

Don't give yourself away through your writing. When you use the word loose, make sure you mean one of the following things:

Not tight-fitting:

I had to take off my wedding ring because it was too loose.


We loosely adhere to our wedding vows.


Men and women are equally loose.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to let my husband out of his cage for dinner. In this promiscuous climate, I simply can't risk letting him loose.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Are You a Grammar Snob?

1. 1. You have been looking for a car to buy on Craigslist for three hours straight. Finally, you find the car of your dreams. It’s got low mileage, it's priced well under Blue Book, and it “runs good.” You…
A. Email straight away to say that you are interested. At least it doesn’t “run bad.”
B. Click away in disgust. If the seller doesn’t know how to use adverbs correctly, how can he or she be trusted to have diligently changed the oil?

2. 2. You’ve been winked at by someone on eHarmony. And this person is super hot! You check out the profile and find that the winker is looking for a comittment.

A. You wink right back. Even though it’s spelled incorrectly, that’s the closest you’ve come to someone interested in commitment in a long time.
B. You blink away the tears. Why do the good ones always have to be such terrible spellers?

3. 3. You have been unemployed for three months, and you finally landed an interview at a pretty cool company. The boss hires you on the spot and tells you that you will “love everyone who you will be working with in your department.”
A. You decline the offer. You know that you will never be able to respect a boss who doesn’t know the difference between who and whom.
B. You accept the offer eagerly. You are smarter than your boss. Eventually, you will take over the office and then the world…

4. It’s Christmastime, and your first grader has just come home from school with a list of “presence” for Santa.
A. This is great news! Someone just went from the nice list to the naughty one. You are going to save so much money now.
B. It could be worse. At least your first grader didn’t ask for Satan’s presence.

Create a quiz at

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Driving Alone in My Grammarmobile

Ladies, are you sick of driving? Are you sick of suffering through traffic while the man in your life is slumped in the passenger's seat immersed in a game of Angry Birds? Here’s a solution. Do this to the inside of your car:

I guarantee you that he will insist on taking his car everywhere!

I’m not going to lie; I’ve been pretty obsessed with my grammarmobile. Consequently, I’ve given it a pretty extreme makeover.

Here are some before pics:

And here she is now:

Isn't she cute?

And I'm not even finished yet!

So far the response has been pretty awesome. I’ve been getting honks (I guess people have been dangling their participles), thumbs-ups, an “I love you” yelled from a grammar lover in the lane over, funny comments, and best of all—a writing gig. I was asked to write a grammar article for a magazine.

So far, I've learned a lot from this whole grammarmobile experience:

* It pays to promote.

* It's a bad idea to cut someone off when you have your website scrawled all over your vehicle.

* If I ever feel like I need some alone time in the house, I will invest in some pink shag carpeting.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Word Game in Which One Player Asks the Others Players for Words to Fill in Blanks

Teachers strive to effectively provide their students with the knowledge they will need to be successful in their careers and lives in general, but what we really want is for our students to think we’re cool. At least I do. So, when I first started teaching college English—when being thought of as cool by my students meant infinitely more to me than it does now— I had a brilliant idea. We would start the first day off with a game of Mad Libs. Everyone loves Mad Libs, right? It’s grammar-related but fun. My students would think I was the coolest teacher EVER!

This is how it went:

Me (choosing a random name of the role sheet): Jessica, give me a pronoun.

Jessica: Silence.

Me: A pronoun. You know, like he, she, it

Jessica: He.

Me: Good. Brian, an adverb.

Brian: What’s an adverb again?

You get the idea. PAINFUL.

That was when I learned that this job was going to be trickier than I had imagined. I realized that my students’ heads would probably explode if I relied on the textbook’s lessons:

• A relative clause is a subordinate clause that begins with who, which, that. The verb in the relative clause must agree with the antecedent of the who, which, or that.
• A compound construction consists of two nouns, two pronouns, or a noun and a pronoun joined by and. Make sure the pronouns in a compound construction are in the correct case.

I’m not blaming my students for not having a strong (okay, even a weak) grasp of grammar jargon. If their education was anything like mine, they hadn’t had a class that dealt with grammar since the 9th grade.

But, yesterday, I learned that the situation is even more dire than I had previously thought. I was helping a student with an essay, and I told him to hyphenate a word. He put quotation marks around it. I said, “No, a hyphen. You know, the tiny horizontal line.”

I have already heard someone refer to an apostrophe as a comma in the sky.

I guess the new name for a period is a dot. That must make the new name for the colon one dot on top of another.

What do you think the new name for the comma should be? How about the question mark?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Gonna Party Like It's 1399

On our drive up to San Francisco, my husband and I stopped to have lunch in the college town San Luis Obispo. Three college students were sitting at the table next to us, and one of them asked the others, “What are you going to wear to the ‘90s party this weekend?”

A ‘90s party! Already! College towns make me feel old as it is; hearing that college students planned to dress up in clothes that I actually wore (you know, for reals) when I was in college gave me spontaneous lower back pain and cataracts.

Is Pearl Jam considered classic rock? Are flannels considered vintage clothing? These and other such questions had been plaguing me until yesterday when I had this epiphany: those students weren’t talking about having a 1990s party; they were talking about having a 1390s party.

I don’t know why I didn’t make the connection sooner. You see, one of the hottest new fads is writing “nowadays” as “now a days.” My students do it all the time, so I figure it’s most likely a nationwide college phenomenon. Today, the correct form is “nowadays,” but in Middle English (from 1100-1500), it was written “now a days."

Obviously, some crazy English major got hold of a copy of Canterbury Tales and started this whole 1390s craze.

So when discussing what to wear to the '90s party, they weren't talking about choosing between these two looks:

They were clearly talking about these ones:


"Nowadays" or "Now a Days." Grammar Girl: Quick and Dirty Tips. 31 Jan 2011. Web. 1 June 2011.