Grammar has always been fun for me. When I was in “Grammar School”, I learned how to diagram sentences. We built little bridges and put words places that made little pictures. I could make a picture and get an A+ for doing it. It started with Miss Castleberry in First Grade, then on to Miss Bessie in Second, and Miss Dent in Third, Miss Lay in Fourth, Mrs. Patten in Fifth, and Mrs. Miller in Sixth. I don’t remember whom I had in Seventh Grade. Mrs. Puckett? Not one of them easy. Strict and hard. Great. Bring it on!
In High School, I don’t remember grammar being a focus. I had Miss Turner for English in my Senior Year, but I don’t remember grammar. I guess by then, we were supposed to know it. Maybe. I don’t remember. At the University of Wisconsin, nothing. And, at the University of Georgia, nothing. But, as soon as I graduated with my Master’s Degree, I began teaching at Brenau College and then at Gainesville Junior College. I always included grammar in my English and Drama courses. Students seemed to know NOTHING about grammar. Why not? Didn’t they teach it anymore?
As my children were growing up, I corrected them – a lot, until I stopped. We had so much going on in our lives, my kids did not need for me to get on their case about grammar. When they got older, I considered correcting them, but didn’t. When they became adults, I didn’t dare correct them. Still don’t. Correct grammar has gone out the window. I see bad grammar in legal briefs.
Every week, I get an email from a guy named Gary Kinder, selling editing software “SoftRake” that should be required in colleges, law schools, trade schools and on home computers, business computers…… Last week, Mr. Kinder wrote one that was inspired. I loved it. So, I am re-posting his post:
“After much pondering and many long discussions with my wife, I have decided to jump into the race for President of the United States. I know it’s a little late, and the campaign will be arduous, but I have been preparing myself for a long while, practicing the victory sign with both hands at the same time.
My platform is simple, one plank: I pledge to the American people to wage war on one of the most insidious threats to the American way of life since Ben Franklin flew a kite in a storm. The VFW, NOW, DAR, AIM, MADD, NAACP, ASPCA, MLA, NRA, LBJ, and JFK all support my campaign and have contributed heavily.
Yes, I am talking about the pervasive, relentless, unmitigated, diabolical flipping around of subjective and objective pronouns. If we do not act decisively now, the “me-‘n-himmers” will soon be old enough to procreate. What will happen if a “me-‘n-himmer” hooks up with a “her-‘n-Ier?” Can you imagine the sentences that will come out of the mouths of their offspring? “Me and him bought her and I Jimmy Choo handbags.”
How will I implement my plan? First, I will create Youth Groups, young women and men who will wear red arm bands with slogans: “Lips that touch bad grammar shall never touch mine.” Stuff like that. I also plan to resurrect the pillory, that thing where you put your head and hands through and they lower the top half, so you look stupid with your head hanging through a hole. I know there’s one in Williamsburg, and I think Boston has a couple.
But I can’t do this alone. I need the help of every adult, especially coaches, teachers, and parents. Tell the kids, “You may say anything you want to around your friends, but you may not sound stupid in this house (on this court, field, track, diamond, in this classroom).” You wouldn’t let them drive on bald tires; don’t let them shoot their futures in the foot by getting used to bad grammar.
Reality check: Most children listen to their parents, but would never let their parents know. When your children climb into their twenties, you will have a lot of good laughs with them, as you discover they were listening the whole time.
Now, parents, if you will, I need a few moments alone with your kids. Thank you.
Are they gone, kids? Okay, here’s the deal: Your parents’ greatest fears are that you will contract some terrible disease, get hooked on drugs, be in a horrific car accident, or use “Me and her” as a compound subject in a college interview.
Fact: When the college interviewer says, “Tell me about your best friend and what the two of you like to do together,” she wants you to say, “Me and him play ‘Destiny’ and hang out,” so she can quickly cross another name off her long list. Next! Why not ruin her process with, “He and I hitchhiked from Lake George to El Paso to get closer to real Americans, and that experience has helped him and meto understand more about our country. When we were in Appalachia . . . .”
A few more thoughts: Unless you are standing in the shadow of El Capitan or staring at a Leafy Sea Dragon, it’s time to retire “awesome.” Do not use it when you’re working at BCBGMaxAzria and a customer tells you he has correct change. Also, do not have this conversation with yourself while within ten feet of another human: “So he tells me this, and I’m like. And he’s like. So I’m like. You know? Then he goes, ehh. And I’m like, whoa.”
Here’s the cool part about learning grammar: You can correct your parents. Because just between you and me, they do it, too. They need your help. Every time you hear one of them use “me” or “him” (or both) as a subject, tell them they owe you a quarter. For example, “Me and Kelly’s dad are driving to lacrosse this week.” That’s two bits in your pocket. You can make a lot of money, more than you could with a paper route (never mind), and you don’t have to get up so early. You may go now.
Kids are gone now, parents; just us again. So here’s my plan going forward: once we have them (and ourselves) using subjective and objective pronouns properly, we can move on to “could of” and “should of.”
In the meantime, please join me in my quest and elect me President of the United States, for the future of our children and our children’s children. And our children’s children’s children. And our children’s children’s children’s children. And anyone alive in 4973.
P.S. As I was writing this Tip, I saw an article on a study by the Pew Research Center that compared the Millennials’ reading habits to those of the Baby Boomers. Guess what, Boomers? Millennials read more than we do. And, bless them, they are more likely to say there’s a lot of really great information out there that’s not found on the Internet!”
“New York Times bestselling author, Gary Kinder, has taught over 1,000 writing programs to law firms, corporations, universities, and government agencies. In 2012, Gary and his team of engineers created WordRake, the only software in the world that edits for clarity and brevity, giving professionals more confidence when writing to clients and colleagues. Backed by seven U.S. patents, WordRake was recently hailed as “Disruptive Innovation” by Harvard Law School. And LexisNexis® Pacific has chosen the WordRake editing software to include in its new Lexis® Draft Pro.”
Ugh. Not funny.