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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Grammar Memes

I've gotten special permission from the grammar police (who have a three full-time permanent liaisons and eight internships here at Writing About Writing due to all my errors) to share some grammar memes today and be spared their truncheons of bitter irony--since, you know...I make most of these mistakes on any given day.

Wiley.  I think this is from Non Sequitur. 
It's a hilarious page with lots more great comics that you should check out.
Think of this as a preview of what's to come if you vote in the totally awesome poll of awesomeness for more spontaneity.  You may see two potpourris in a row!  And one of them on a Sunday!  Dogs and cats....living together...MASS HYSTERIA!!  But I'll throw a joke or two in there of writing nerd humor so mere anarchy won't bother you--heck you'll be so busy laughing, you won't even notice the falconer screaming "Come back, Percy!  Come back. Come back!" like Rose to the lifeboat.  

Honestly, I'm not prescriptive about grammar at all.  If meaning exists, then language has done its job, and the reason we strive for precision is so that situations of potential ambiguity can be avoided.  How I see grammar used in practice comes across more like moral high ground preaching. Don't even get me started on how much bile has been spilled and spleens vented in the name of homonyms.  (I'm all for a "My stupid what?" joke when the wrong your/you're shows up, but

Or maybe I'm just feeling kind of lazy on a Sunday and I just want to put up a few pictures and be done with it.  

So on that note....

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This is actually a very common mistake among my students.  By the time they get to me, they're usually able to identify most pronouns that lack an antecedent, with only the occasional error, but "this" continues to trip them up for a long time.  So in their writing, you find a lot of sentences explaining something, and you have NO idea what they're talking about.

There are 12 tenses in English--each its own nightmare of rules for how and when to use them.
This is from Doug Savage at Savage Chicken (savagechicken.com) and please go check him out because even though I got this from a viral meme on FB, it is technically copyrighted.

Idioms are awesome to play with.  I mean, once you hack your way through all the "shake a leg" jokes that totally just keep getting funnier every time, and never in any way get old or overdone.  Totally...
I like Oxford commas and I want them to stick around.  The problem with the struggle between "always" and "only if the meaning is confusing" is that one of those is always clear and the other requires people to use their judgement.  Have you ever maybe noticed anything about people's judgement...just in general?  I wouldn't trust most native speakers with a semi-colon, much less an optional comma.

Speaking of semi-colons....

Back to my point-- However, liking the Oxford comma doesn't mean I want to go anywhere near the debate about it.  You would think these people were arguing about the genocide in Darfur for the level of rhetoric and anger they use.  You'll never see them get worked up about ANYTHING so much.  Ever. Oh my god.  Have a glass of warm milk.  It's a comma.  It's not a melting polar ice cap or Galactus.  And if you lose the Oxford comma debate, don't worry!  You'll get to sit around with a brandy snifter and look through your monocle at troglodytes who leave it out when they should have put it in and get all prescriptive up in their asses about the ambiguity.  Self-righteous "I told you so"s can be a pretty damned fine consolation prize with something as not-the-end-of-the-fucking-world as language conventions.

Jasonlove.com  More giggles there!
One of the most zany and fun-to-play villains I ever put into a Heroes Unlimited game was a guy who could turn into electricity or water, and the really overpowered ability to turn into both.  (He would be like a water body with electrical arcs for a skeletal structure.)  He would be this calm, urbane sophisticated guy who would fly into a murderous rage if people ended sentences in prepositions.  I think he gets talked remembered fondly more than any of my other villains--just for being so fucking bug nuts batshit whackadoodle crazy. 

I tried it.  It's mostly accurate. 

I was just thinking recently about how silly Air Supply's "Two Less Lonely People In The World" would sound with proper grammar.  "Now there are two fewer lonely persons in the world..."
I'm pretty sure the internet has done no such thing, but it does surprise me just how much vitriol there is around your/you're and their/there/they're.  To hear folks talk about it, it is roughly the same level of irritation as having bamboo slivers shoved underneath your cuticles.  Most people are fine, decent, tolerant, and loving until someone uses the wrong homonym on Facebook, and then they share and like hateful memes about the relative intelligence of those people (who were probably just typing too fast to notice) and the fate of civilization.



  1. I think I'm going to print out those alternative proofing marks for my office...

  2. Great! I'm going to read more of your blogs. I enjoyed this article, but am surprised that your "their/there" error hasn't already been mentioned in the comments. So ironic.....

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  5. I also want to fix my grammar mistakes because there are some genius who can do this easily. This is really helpful for us.

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  8. English is the hardest language to be fluent in, in the world. However, it is not the hardest language to learn on the basic level.

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