You’re Going to Have to Fix Your Grammar Problem


Firstly I’m going to have to apologize for how judgmental I am when it comes to other peoples’ grammatical errors.
I’m sure I’m no model. I grew up in Georgia, for God’s sake. I know I’ve made my own mistakes.
I just feel like people – educated people, high school and college graduates, doctors even, you name it – can’t grasp such a simple concept:
“You’re” means “you are.”
“Your” is possessive.
One cannot say “you’re hair always looks beautiful” and expect not to be ridiculed – this is a true story, the evidence is attached to my mother’s fridge. I can upload a picture of it if you truly insist.
Am I a bitch for feeling this way? I just cannot stand – or understand – why it is so hard for people who are in and have graduated from college to distinguish between two words, to realize that they look like complete idiots when they add or neglect that apostrophe and e. Is it all just habit?
Yes, it makes me feel extremely bitter. I feel like I bother people for being so opinionated about grammatical errors. I also feel like people don’t care enough about being correctly understood to fix such a simple mistake.

Even the internet is on my side.

There’s another mistake that really gets to me. For some reason, a great percentage of the people I know (or at least happen to be Facebook friends with – that is, until their repeated errors drive me to delete them) really like to mix up “breathe” and “breath.” I’m talking statements and statuses like, “without you I can barely breath.” When I read something like that, I momentarily have no idea what’s going on until I realize that somebody either neglected or never learned that the verb “breathe” contains an e.
Maybe this might help. I’m not sure whether people who frequently make grammatical errors read my blog, but I might as well give this clarification a try.
The verb “breathe” has that prominent “eee” sound. Do you know what I mean?  It sounds like “brEEEthe.” 
“Breath,” the noun, on the other hand, has more of an “ehh” sound. “Brethhh.” Something like that.
See? It’s easy!

I just want you guys to know that I’m only being so finicky about these misspellings and misconceptions because I know you can all change if you really want to. I’m not saying you have to speak with perfect grammar (well, only if you want me to instantly and completely fall in love with you – See? I’m using cliches. I suck too!), and I’m definitely not asking you to mimic the AP Stylebook because I’m still pissed about the Oxford comma thing.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that while these two errors I’ve highlighted are extremely annoying, they’re also very easy to fix. If you can learn to distinguish when to use that e (and the apostrophe in the case of “you’re”), then more people will take you seriously and see you as the mature and smart individual you’re aspiring to be.
You can do it. It’s really easy. Just trust me.

In Defense of the Comma


I’m an English major. Okay, maybe I need to explain this a little more.
I am a huge English nerd. I’ve always liked words and writing. I even liked grammar, especially because at my elementary school, I learned about the parts of speech by drawing little shapes over certain words. A verb got a big red circle. Nouns and adjectives got triangles that varied in size and coloration. Prepositions got green, sideways crescents (the inside of the curve faced down). Okay, I probably shouldn’t go off on parts of speech right now. I can save that for another day.
Since I’m such a huge English nerd, it’s obvious that I like punctuation. Actually, I love punctuation. I get butterflies in my stomach talking about punctuation. I will save my ridiculously long post on how much I adore semicolons and dashes for another day. Maybe the day after I write about parts of speech on here.
Even though they’re not my favorite, I think people forget how important commas are. I have trouble understanding what’s going on in a sentence that’s missing commas it so desperately needs.
Why is this important, you ask? Could this outrageously nerdy post on commas actually relate to anything non-English majors care about?
As you probably (hopefully?) know, the Associated Press deemed Oxford commas unnecessary. Wrong, even. At the time, I didn’t want to go into journalism outside my school paper and local paper’s teen board, so I didn’t really care. I guess I wasn’t a punctuation activist in those days. Plus I wanted to write books for a living, so I didn’t necessarily need to adhere to an AP stylebook.
Sometime after I got into college, I decided to add that second major. And have I ever mentioned how the Pacific Ocean convinced me that I needed to write for travel magazines this past summer? Well yeah, that happened too. So I actually do need to care about AP style now.
I don’t have many problems with AP style, but I do hate that Oxford comma rule – and it’s not just because I’d forget to take my Oxford commas out and my stories for my news writing lab would get lower grades. I know most people who read this will think, “why is this girl so pissed about something so stupid as commas?” Think all you want. I need my third comma to understand what’s going on.
I’ve included that visual aid to help convince people who aren’t so crazy about words that Oxford commas are important. Without them, the reader is left confused.
It can happen to anyone. It can happen to aspiring journalists and grammar Nazis, and I can say that because it happened to me and I am obviously both.
It happened today. I was reading my news writing book because I haven’t since before I took my midterm and I kind of have a final tomorrow. There was a lot of information. So much information. And lots of lists. So many lists. And there were a bunch of words stringed together without commas and I had no idea what was going on. It didn’t happen just once, either. It happened again and again and again, and I felt like an idiot each time.

I have realized that the fault isn’t mine. Associated Press, you did a terrible thing when you discouraged the use of the Oxford comma.  Did you think it would make the reading process easier? It really doesn’t. It confuses me, and I am a pretty well-read person (I’m not trying to sound facetious or anything, but I am). I know all you want to do is make news content easier for your readers. I know you had good intentions, I do. Maybe this year, when you’re changing state abbreviations yet again, you’ll realize that omitting the Oxford comma from your stylebook was a mistake.