My Name is Tracey and I am a Grammarian

That’s a word. It expresses my fondness for grammatically correct written English. It may also let you know that I am a snob about these things.

If I read your blog, then you must be able to formulate a sentence and use an apostrophe appropriately because nothing will make me drop you faster than poor grammar. Isn’t that disgraceful of me! It just disturbs my sensibilities to see a clunky, chunky sentence. Or worse one that begins with a conjunction. (note that irony)

I hate reading signs and headlines which have not been spell-checked or grammar-checked. There is just no excuse for it when helpful microsoft will give you that red or green squiggly line. I know that system is not infallible, but it is helpful in that regard.

Having said that,  I don’t expect that everyone leaves school with a perfect command of grammar. It is a skill and, like all skills, it does not suit all people. I don’t think that it is a measure of intelligence, nor that it makes your thoughts and ideas any less worthy if you do not master these skills. It just grates on my nerves.

I struggle with this when I am blogging. I want to give a sense of emphasis, a sense of the voice and inflection and tone that will help to convey the meaning behind my writing. I use… three dots (too much) and (brackets) too much as well. I can even over-use the humble dash – and the exclamation mark in my quest to see my writing as I would say it!

There is a swag of blogs out there devoted to this very thing. Grammarianism. My absolute favourite is apostrophe abuse. Sometimes I even leave anonymous comments extolling the virtues of a correctly placed apostrophe and correcting the finer points of its use. I often see abuses, but have not yet photographed and submitted them to the blog. I’m certainly not beyond doing it though!

Today I found this article about blogging to preserve grammar. I love people passionate and peevish enough to start a blog over a grammar misuse. Bless their fastidious, judgemental hearts. They make my day.

27 Comments

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27 responses to “My Name is Tracey and I am a Grammarian

  1. That article is great. I can rest easy in the knowledge that there are enough people out there willing to fight the good (grammatical) fight.

    I’m a bit finicky about grammar but I often get it wrong, and like you, I have some abuses I employ specifically to mimic voice – like the overuse of ellipses…

    And starting a sentence with an and or a but.

  2. h&b

    My email clients don’t have spellcheck, so I often fire off a speed-typed email ( I can type quite fast ! ) with usually, switched letters in a word, like .. hmm … ’emial’ and other common errors I can’t think of just now.

    But only to my mum & my sister and a few others, usually.
    Never in a work or professional capacity, or to people I don’t know well.

    So i’m not sure where this leaves me ?

    Smart enough to know better, but too lazy to care ?

    ( But I wouldn’t read a badly written blog – it would do my eyes in ! )

  3. h&b

    oh – and Fairlie – I do the ‘but’ thing !!
    I’m terrible … terrible ….

  4. But (that’s for Fairlie) Tracey!!! (that’s for Tracey).

    And, there I was, minding my own business, ironing, and I saw an ad come on channel 10 advertising the new show (t’was a few weeks ago) “Are you smarter than a 5th grader?” followed by…

    wait for it…

    “Thank God YOUR here”!!

    Ha! I answered the question for them. AND nearly called Channel 10 to tell them, then decided I had just better keep ironing.

    Next ad break, it had been fixed. HA!

  5. I’m with you in principle Tracey but with Fairlie in practise. I had precisely ONE grammar lesson in High School where parsing a sentence was explained. (State school) The rest we were supposed to pick up in dribs and drabs and frankly this was not a strong enough grounding. I wish the grammar training had been more akin to the times table training. I still know those off by heart.

  6. I know that with you now reading my blog I am being very careful with apostrophes.

    However I, too, start many a sentence with AND or BUT. I am now going to be very self conscious about this habit but not sure whether I can overcome it. It seems to add to MY voice in the blog.

    We had good grammar absolutely drummed into us at school. Catholic nuns. Can’t beat ’em. Mainly because they were beating you!

  7. Yikes, I am a little paranoid now considering you haven’t been to my blog in a few days? Have I been abandoned in a comma? (Sorry, I love puns…)

  8. I have similar sentiments. When I see something that I know is wrong, it grates at me. Would it freaking kill people to learn the difference between “its” and “it’s” or “affect” and “effect”?

    Unfortunately, I’ve found myself misspelling or misusing a good many words, and now I’m beginning to suspect that my grammar isn’t so good either. Perhaps a copy of Strunk & White is in my future.

  9. I better hook you up with my sister – http://kimbofo.typepad.com/journal/ She is a Grammarian too being the magazine editor that she is!! I know it’s wrong when I start a paragraph off with an ‘And’. SOmetimes I do things to piss people off! *heehee*

    I do hate reading some blogs who have huge, huge chunky paragraphs and don’t spell check their words.

    Unlike me. I’m perfect. *snort*

  10. soozadoo

    Tracey, she’s bringin’ grammar back!

    On a side note I lament the gradual loss of the semi-colon, how about you?

  11. twolimeleaves

    I have a passion for the hyphen, I randomly capitalise words and I use more dots than the female population of India. All for the sake (like you, Tracey)of having my blog read like my speech. I loathe spelling mistakes unless it’s MY spelling mistake. And I really REALLY hate hearing the words “Souths” and “Norths” pronounced “Souse” and “Norse”.
    I’m just a grumpy old woman.

  12. Oh my. Sadly, I lack basic spelling skills. I suffer with this terrible malady every time I write anything. Spell check is my friend. I am a bit dyslexic, which can explain some of the wonky spelling. Where is grammer check? As I am lacking in grammer skills I am pleading for help. Is there a 21 step program out there? Perhaps monthly meetings… Envision me standing,declaring” Hi, I’m Karen and I lack basic grammer skills.” while everyone claps and says how brave I am to admit it! I am glad you continue to read my blog, despite the pain it must bring!

  13. Oh dear. You’re making me nervous about my grammar. Since you read my blog, I’m going to assume I do at least a moderately good job. I do have a tendency to capitalize words I think are important. Regardless of whether or not they are proper nouns. I also have to stop and think about which is correct: there, their or they’re and you’re or your. The “exception” rules give me trouble. “i” before “e” except after “c”. We had to memorize all sorts of little mnemonic devices like that in grammar (how appropriate) school. I still use them. A preposition is anything a rabbit can do to a log, etc.

  14. Goodness, you have not been around lately. Have you dropped me for my grammatical errors? My misplaced, or missed, apotstrophes?
    I tend to be lazy, & don’t always add them to words like dont.
    One of my bad habits was beginning a sentence with And or But. Luckily, my grammatically knowledgable brother pointed this out, & hopefully, I have remedied the matter.
    I also tend to use dots, asterisks etc for sound effects.

  15. I love to start sentences with and. And I’m not sure why.
    Just so you know, I just made two, no make that three spelling mistakes, and I’ve fixed them.

    Also (can I start a sentence with also?) my son has a computer game that teaches reading/writing skills, and you set your level, so I have to answer the hard questions, and he does the easy ones.
    I get at least three questions wrong each time I play and I’m not even set at the hardest level. I suspect my grammar education was similar to to that of Stomper. I have no clue what a compound sentence is for example.

    I loved Aunty Evil’s comment.

  16. Peta

    What a lovely blog and what fabulous comments! I can see how hard you all tried. It pleases me when people try their very best in a grammatical way. There were quite a few incorrect uses of commas but I’ll give you all a B plus.

  17. A compound sentence is two phrases joined with a conjunction;
    eg He went to the shop and he bought a bun.
    See, that could easily have been two separate sentences.
    A complex sentence has two clauses one dependent on the other;
    eg When he was hungry he went to the shop to buy food.
    ‘When he was hungry’ is dependent on the rest of the sentence, it cannot stand alone. ‘He went to the shop to buy food’ can stand alone.

    I think there’s something in that for us all…
    (semi-colons employed for Sussanah’s benefit)

  18. Peta is the boss of the red pen, apparently.

  19. I agree – though I know I screw up on occasion (the rare occasion…). My biggest pet hate, particularly when reading blogs, is when people write “then” instead of “than”. For example, “this is better then that.” Makes me want to offer to proof read their posts before they hit publish. Or shout at them.

  20. Oh Tracey I hope you will keep reading my blog!! I am lazy when I blog and I could well be the queen of the dash!! I write my blog as I would talk to the person reading it. However as a potential teacher and with an interest in ESL, I really should be a grammarian too!!

    I have a pet hate with your & you’re and to & too!!! Why can people just not get it??
    shelly

  21. Oh, thanks Tracey.

    Next game I’m going to be the winner.

  22. This has turned into a grammar confessional hasn’t it.

  23. I completely agree with you! I just lectured my class on the persuasion of a well-written term paper, and that means no contractions, and using the proper form of its and there.

    I must admit my addiction to exclamation points, though!

  24. Di

    Am I a culprit of incorrect grammar? I had to go back through my recent posts and check. OMG did I really miss that many spelling errors? I guess I could put it down to jet lag and the fact that I was too tired to click on the little button that checks your spelling. I get a bit frustrated with it as it doesn’t like my Australian spelling of favourite or neighbour. I will admit I am very fond of using the hyphen – incorrectly – but it just seems to enable me to write in the same manner that I speak!

  25. You will HATE my blog. Because I start most of my sentences with conjunctions. And it is gives me a real buzz.

  26. kylie

    oh… so where do you stand on functional grammar they are introducing into school now

  27. If I see CD’s or DVD’s written one more time, I won’t be responsible for my actions.
    Love the semi-colon too, but I’m never entirely sure I’m using it correctly.
    I am with Stomper on the lack of grammar lessons at school. Did the English police take a few years off back in the early eighties?

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