The Battle for Proper Grammar
“You’re such a nerd!” chants Emily after I gladly accept another essay to review for my peer. “At least I can use commas correctly!” I quip back at her. Goodness, some people.
Nothing irks me quite like a multitude of grammatical mistakes. As a future English teacher, I can hear myself reprimanding my students to “use the right form of ‘their,'” “quit putting ‘you’ in an essay,” and “stop throwing commas in wherever they ‘sound right!'” I mean, how hard is it to write using basic grammar? Apparently, it is one of the more difficult tasks assigned to high school students. Students these days are to caught up in everything besides school two give essay revisions too minutes. Proofreading is a huge component of quality writing, and Microsoft Word can’t always catch the errors for us; sometimes, the word being used is spelled correctly but is used in the wrong context.
I’m sure English teachers (including the one reading this) are all too familiar with this type of error…the lazy error. Take, for example, the first sentence of this paragraph. It makes me cringe to write, even for 17 words, using such switches. Mixing up forms of words makes the writer seem incompetent and dull, to put things nicely. Other common mix-ups are you’re / your, their / they’re / there, its / it’s, and principal / principle.
Switching a word for its homophone is as irritating as a student standing front-and-center of a classroom, screaming for the entire period—loud, obnoxious, unnecessary, and VERY noticeable. And to think this could all be avoided with a quick, three-minute proofread. You know how people can really irritate you sometimes? Fact of life: we all do, and we can all express ourselves without directly addressing the reader. In fact, a creative writing class may be the only place dropping a “you” in the middle of an essay is acceptable in school. Imagine reading a formal essay, such as this: “Being that any ambiguity related to the above information has been mitigated, the health-related issues regarding the labeling of GMOs can now be explored. Basically, the main concern of those who are advocating for their required labeling, other than human rights, has been if the ingestion of biotech cuisine is even safe.
Genetically modified food can harm you.” The tone of the entire selection changes from an academic, formal essence to an extremely informal expression, which can lead the reader to believe that the author is either not serious, not educated, or took the superlative-sounding sentences from another writer without giving credit where credit was due. Finding a “you” in an academic essay is like splashing a drop of black ink on a white sheet of paper—prominent and an eyesore. You one should simply stay away from “you” in writing, unless it is intentional. Finally the last, tidbit of advice I can offer, at this point is, commas must be used, correctly.
The infamous misplaced comma has the power to destroy an otherwise-quality piece. Traditionally, the comma is used to indicate a pause in speech, and commas are only allowed under certain circumstances (which, for everyone’s sanity, I will not be explaining). However, a superfluous use of our little tailed friend results indefinitely in, yet again, the writer making a fool of his or herself. Similarly when people do not put commas in their writing the sentences they compose are consequentially rather difficult to decipher blending the pieces together all too seamlessly. In my head, the sentence reads as a monotone run-on that clearly indicates a lack of control of language.
The comma is a sad, misunderstood punctuation mark, wanting nothing more than to be known for who it is and what it does. To take part in the movement of comma advocacy, join the Save the Commas campaign at www.savethecomma.com. As a closing reminder, I would like to encourage writers everywhere to recall proper usage at all times; it would be extremely unfortunate to convey cannibalism instead of an intended celebratory remark.
Let’s look at the phrase, “Let’s eat, Grandma!” Ordinarily, no one thinks twice when he or she sees this, for it’s a simple, everyday comment. However, if we delete the comma, this seemingly harmless saying morphs into a bone-chilling statement of anthropophagy: “Let’s eat Grandma!” Although sweet, grandmothers are NOT edible. While it is understandable that these mistakes happen to the best of us, a final draft should be virtually error-free. By remembering these three universal grammar rules, writers everywhere can sound more educated and spare their English teachers’ sanity, too. Remember: Grammatical mistakes…Not even once.