Wednesday, August 31, 2011

They're Not Gonna Take It

When I first started teaching, I was really excited about the potential of my students’ generation. These young adults showed a propensity to stand up for what they believed in. They weren’t afraid to declare their willingness to object to the status quo. This generation, I thought to myself, is the one that is going to make change happen.

I got the sense of my students’ rebelliousness, not from what they said nor from what they wore, but rather from what they wrote. Nary would I come across an essay in which a student hadn’t written the word defiantly over and over again. Dissent was obviously brewing deep inside of these young men and women.

I soon discovered that it wasn’t actually dissent that was brewing; it was poor spelling skills. You see, my students would misspell definitely as definately, and then Auto Correct would change it to defiantly.

After I realized that their “defiance” was a matter of spelling rather than principle, I began my own little campaign: the If You Are Going to Learn to Spell One Word Correctly, Make It Be Definitely campaign.

However, thanks to Microsoft Word 2010, I can finally put that campaign to rest. Microsoft Word 2010’s Auto Correct changes definately to definitely.

My next campaign: Stop the iPhone’s Auto Correct feature from changing hell to he’ll. Sometimes I do actually intend to reference Satan’s lair. If you’ve ever had to grade a stack of research papers, you’d understand why.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Powerlessness of Now

Okay, look, I know I am supposed to live in the now and appreciate what I have, but it’s hard when my future is going to be soooo much more awesome than my now. Today, I am merely an English teacher with a stack of essays riddled with unnecessary commas and missing apostrophes plopped on my desk. In the future, I am going to be a famous author. I am going to own vacation homes in the Mediterranean and Hawaii. And once my new age-defying face cream kicks in, my skin will be resplendent.

I also kind of enjoy living in my past. It’s fun to spend hours replaying the fight in my head that Heather and I got into in the seventh grade when I found out she called me a wannabe behind my back. My thirty-five-year-old comebacks are so much better than my twelve-year-old comebacks: "There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about" versus “I know you are but what am I.” (Granted, I plagiarized my thirty-five-year-old comeback from Oscar Wilde, but Heather has no idea—she’s only twelve.)

The fact that I reside mostly in the future and the past makes me a then kind of person.

(Future) Once I am relaxing on my lanai with my glowing skin, then I will be happy.

(Past) Back then, I was reading Sweet Valley High, not Oscar Wilde.

But, now that I think about it, I’m also kind of a than person. I constantly compare myself to others:

I hope my life turned out better than Heather's.

Are you a then or a than? Or both?

Or are you the frickin’ Dalai Lama?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

ok, o.K., OKAY!

I used to believe the saying “there is nothing new under the sun”— until yesterday. I was at the market and I heard a woman say to her friend, “I’ve been trying to gain a few pounds.”

No, you didn’t read that incorrectly. A woman actually expressed the desire to GAIN weight.

Next thing you know the penis reduction industry will boom. Children will be throwing tantrums when their parents give them cookies instead of broccoli. Kim Kardashian will have a small, intimate wedding.

Of course, I turned around to see what this woman looked like, and she was definitely thin. But in my experience, even thin women want to be thinner. Women who wear a size 2 want to wear a size 0. Women who wear a size 0 still think they have five pounds to lose. It’s Southern California. She’s lucky there wasn’t a cop around; she might have been arrested.

I can only remember one other time when my concept of reality had been rocked so hard.

I had always assumed words started out long, and then we’d get lazy and abbreviate them. For example, television had been shortened to TV, sexually transmitted diseases to STDs, United States of America to USA, and Puff Daddy to P. Diddy to Diddy.

So imagine how shocked I was when I learned that the word OK started as an abbreviation and then later was lengthened to the word okay.

The origin of OK is still considered a mystery, but the most popular theory is that in 1839 when comical misspellings were all the rage (remember that?), OK stood for Orl Korrect, which was the comical misspelling of All Correct. Soon after, OK became a word of its own and kept the meaning “All Correct.”

I did not know this. Consequently, for years, I have been correcting my students’ OKs and O.K.s with okays.

However, different style guides prefer different expressions of the word. For example, the Associated Press Style Guide prefers OK, the New York Times prefers O.K., and Garner's Modern American Usage prefers okay.

Which expression of the word do you prefer?

Puff Daddy, P. Diddy, or Diddy?

I mean, OK, O.K., or okay.


“Okay vs OK.” Words Between the Spaces. 13 Jan. 2010. Web. 17 August 2011.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Do You Want to Know The Secret?

Bradley Cooper will ask me out on a date. Bradley Cooper will ask me out on a date. Bradley Cooper will ask me out on a date. There will be a million dollar check waiting for me when I get home. There will be a million dollar check waiting for me when I get home. There will be a million dollar check waiting for me when I get home.

Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t see you there. How’s it going? I was just sitting here visualizing and telling the universe what I would like. You see, I went to a bachelorette party last weekend, and one of the other ladies brought The Secret, so I finally read it, and what can I say: I’m pretty dang excited about my future now that I realize that I can control it.

Chocolate won’t make me fat. Chocolate won’t make me fat. Chocolate won’t make me fat.

My life is definitely going to be a lot less moody.

When I say less moody, what I mean is that there is one verb mood that I will no longer be using. I will no longer be using the subjunctive.

There are three verb moods in the English language: the indicative, the imperative, and the subjunctive.

We use the subjunctive when we are expressing wishful thinking, which means we use were instead of was:

Reality: Bradley Cooper was dating Renee Zellweger.

Wishful thinking: I wish he were dating me.

We also use the subjunctive were when we are imagining something unrealistic:

If I were to receive a million dollar check today, chocolate wouldn’t make me fat.

(Because I would be able to afford all the liposuction I wanted!)

But now that I’ve discovered The Secret, soon EVERYTHING will be realistic, and I can say goodbye to the subjunctive mood.

Now where was I…

My legs will grow three inches. My legs will grow three inches. My legs will grow three inches.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Viva la Gramática!

I didn’t even know David Hasselhoff sang, but he had two number one hits in Germany. The Tourist bombed in the U.S. but earned $210.7 million overseas. Missed Periods and Other Grammar Scares may not have A-list celebrity status (yet) in the U.S., but who knows—it could be huge overseas.

And that, mis amigos, is why I am not going to take any chances when I go to Cabo San Lucas for my friend’s bachelorette party this weekend. To maintain my reputation, I need to make sure my grammar is perfecta! Therefore, I am brushing up on these common errors English speakers make when speaking Spanish:

· In English, we put the adjective before the noun; in Spanish, they put it after.

Tequila grande, por favor?

· Mixing up soy and estoy.

Both mean I am, but I just read that we use soy to refer to a permanent state of being and estoy to an impermanent state of being.

For example,

Soy una mujer.

(I am a woman.)

Estoy una mujer borracha.

(I am a drunk woman.)

· Even if the tequila makes me do embarrassing things like the Macarena, I cannot declare, “Estoy embarazada!”

That’s because embarazada means I’m pregnant, not I’m embarrassed.

I don’t want anyone thinking I’m pregnant.

They may try to take the tequila away.