Grammar Saves Lives


I’m no saint. And I write for a living. So there’s no excuse for typos and spelling mistakes on this blog, apart from the wine I’ve had before I post and the fact that I write all day long and my brain kinda switches off after I leave the office. Honestly, I’ve edited posts five times in a row after spotting typos and then given up.

But really. Let’s talk about this. As the wonderful Lynne Truss, who miraculously managed to sell a book on punctuation to millions (!!!) said:

“Punctuation really does matter, even if it is only a matter of life and death” Ergo:

Panda: Eats shoots and leaves. Or Panda: Eats, shoots and leaves?

I remember my first year of studying English Language at University (No, it’s not a second language and yes, we had to take that along with English LIterature. We had to learn phonetics and how to read Middle English from the Middle Ages which basically looks like this: MMMMMMMMMMVMMVMVVMM and it’s not Latin. Seriously. I was shit at it and I hated the twats that weren’t. Our tutor had a panic attack when she realised none of us really knew how to use grammar properly. I mean the slightly more complicated bits like EM dashes (which I use FAR too much when I write) and semi colons and colons and stuff. This tiny little Scottish woman almost had an apoplexy, spending an hour of valuable time that could have been spent on where your tongue is in your mouth when you pronounce “aaeeehhh” to teach us how grammar works.

And we were uni students. Studying English. God help those poor fuckers in school these days. I bet they don’t even get taught joined-up writing.

Anyway, and forgive me for being a massive patronising twat here, but the thing is, most people think they are good at English. At writing, at grammar. They think “it’s not like maths, you can say you’re shit at maths, but English is English and everyone that speaks English is automatically Very Good at It”.

No. Not so. Even though I write for a living you cringe when someone sends an email with typos. Or worse – you do it. (see what I did there? An EM dash. I don’t know whay I chose it over a semi-colon but I did. And it works. Please don’t call me Lynne Truss)

But I’ve worked in many jobs where high powered executives fire out missives with terrible, terrible English to the masses of worker bees. It’s embarassing. I once worked for a government department and had to write a speech and briefing notes for a minister. I wrote “the gathered party will comprise Senator X, person Y etc”. This got sent up the chain for corrections (about 10 times) and back to me saying I had written something in the wrong font, etc etc.

TWICE it came back to me from the assistant director of the government agency scribbling “comprised of”. Comprised means “made up of”. It’s like saying ATM machine, fool. Sure, in my last week I did try to get “I believe that children are our future” into the minister’s speech for a bet and because I was fed up – almost got in, the gatekeeper saw through me at the last minute – devastated. (incorrect use of EM dash, so sue me, I’m tired and emotional)

For a little break from my rant, and to view something terribly clever about grammar using drawings, go here:

Ali Brosh’s rant against the Monster that is ALOT (from hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com, see it, love it)

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/04/alot-is-better-than-you-at-everything.html

(NB this image is taken from Ali Brosh’s blog Hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com. This is her work and she is funnier than me. She has a book out soon. You should buy it)

Anyway, this long-winded ramble has little point. Unless you have been directed to this site by the search terms “Royal Wedding Blow Job”, “slutty clothes” or “cute otters”, I’m going to assume you know that YOU’RE is a contraction meaning YOU ARE and YOUR means belonging to YOU. And that commas come in pairs unless they are in a list. And Tautology; saying the same thing twice and the enemy of newspaper sub-editors everywhere.

In the meantime, I’ve had enough wine to knock out a goat and if there are mistakes in this post, I’m going to assure you I make less whilst plastered than most people do whilst sober and concentrating. And that makes me smug and able to sleep better at night. Perhaps you have learned something. Perhaps you think I’m a total twat. Maybe both. I can live with that. Just use the apostrophes ok? But not in “cabbage’s for sale” or “DVD’s for rent”. Then I may have to cut you.

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About ohhellwhatthehell

I like gin, mittens and otters, not necessarily in that order. Here's some stuff I felt like writing down when I'm not chained to a desk writing other things for a living. Please use caution when using this site; there may be sweary words, cute animals and general bullshit. Don't say I didn't fucking warn you.
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3 Responses to Grammar Saves Lives

  1. nic says:

    i’m front and centre row of that choir your preaching to. noice read. made me really want to have a wine with you this fine thursday eve, for old deadlines’ sake.

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    what you are talking about! Bookmarked. Please additionally discuss with
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