Hello my darlings, it’s me again, the Grammar Bitch, here to help set you straight in the new year. It’s been a couple years now since I’ve taught college classes, and I miss the fun of teaching. So I’d like to have some fun right this very minute, okay?
We’re talking today about word crimes. About writer credibility. And yes, if you blog, you are a writer. Or you should be. And writers need to use good grammar.
Now, Grammar Bitch (you can call me Grammy Bitch, if you like) knows that many of you are not English majors, professional writers or grammarians, but she is here to tell you that when you make glaring grammatical errors, your very smart, astute readers notice and you don’t look very smart. They judge, make no mistake about it, and form an impression of you. Of course, that raises the question “would you rather be smart or have tons of readers?” and I won’t ask because I know that you want both. But if you had to choose one, you might choose … well, let’s not go there. Anyway, I think you would agree that grammar is important.
Or maybe you don’t. Maybe you just don’t want to bother. Maybe you think, “oh, it’s just my blog!” In which case Grammar Bitch says, in disbelief, “Good heavens! What kind of professional wouldn’t want to master his or her craft?” Especially if he or she wants to be taken seriously. It’s not rocket science, you know. And there are all sorts of online resources to help. Like this blog post (she says, modestly).
Seriously. Correct grammar is NO BIG DEAL.
Therefore, it’s important to bone up on it before you make a big boner, as in the “stupid mistake” definition and not the “erection” definition. Although if you can get it up for grammar, more power to you, because Grammy needs more than subject-verb agreement to get going, especially at this age.
Today we’re talking about common grammatical errors. So, shall we start?
Let’s talk about the noun “blog” and how to use it. What, you think you know? Maybe you do. But some of you do not. Grammar Bitch knows this because she reads your stuff. Voraciously. And she sees common grammatical errors.
The blog is your site, the one that contains all the wise and funny entries you make when you post. That’s right, I’m talking about YOUR blog.
The post is each individual entry.
When you suggest “read my blog” you mean your entire site. You do not mean read a particular post.
Well, you MIGHT mean a single post, but if you did, you would be wrong.
“Read my blog post” means that particular entry.
Right now, you are reading my blog post. If you told me “I read your blog every day” (and of course you do, right?) that’s ok, because you are talking about the site.
You could also tell me that you read my posts every day and that would be correct usage.
But if you say “I read your blog today,” and you meant a single post? Wrong usage.
On Christmas Eve, a lovely young woman told me “I love your blog” and she meant all of it, not just that day’s post. (I know you’re reading this, A, by the way, so glad!)
So remember, the blog is the site, the post is the entry.
Not so hard, right?
Because Grammy knows that we all like to talk about ourselves. God knows, she can talk about herself incessantly.
That really is the trick to dating, by the way. Know that people like to talk about themselves. Grammar Bitch knows this because she spent a dozen years as a consultant and consultants date for a living. This gave her a huge advantage when she decided to become single at age 53 and date again. It also brought her quite a few marriage proposals. Of course, she didn’t really want to hear some of those men talk about themselves for a lifetime. (See? I love to talk about myself.) Ok, so about YOU.
Here’s a little quiz. What’s wrong with this sign?
It’s YOU’RE. Because it means YOU ARE. And YOU’RE is a contraction for YOU ARE.
How shameful that this appears on a school reader board.
YOUR, without the apostrophe indicates a possessive. As in “Your dog is cute.” “Your house is a mess.”
As opposed to: “You’re cute,” which means “You are cute.” Or “You’re a slob.” Meaning “You are a slob.” Because YOUR house is a mess.
And while we’re on the subject of ourselves, how about this:
Oh, now this one sends Grammy Bitch to Crazytown because she sees it all the time.
People just don’t like saying “me.” Even when it’s correct. They’ll go to great lengths to avoid it. Even if it makes them sound like trailer trash. Not that I have anything against trailers, really. But I do have something against these common grammatical errors. So let us make the correct usage very clear.
“Bubba and me are goin’ down to have a beer” is cute but not correct. It should be “Bubba and I” because if I were drinking beer by myself I would never say “Me is goin’ down to have a beer. . . .” Even if you refer to yourself first, use the same rule: It’s not “Me and Bubba are going” but “I and Bubba are going.” I know that sounds weird, right? But it’s correct.
“Myself” is NOT a correct substitute, although we often hear things like “Mama gave that house to Jim and myself.” No, no, no.
So here’s the easy test. Just remove the second party and try the sentence. Would you say “Mama gave that house to myself”? No, you would say “Mama gave that house to ME.” Therefore it would be “Mama gave that house to Jim and me.”
I KNOW you want to say “Mama gave that house to Jim and I.” But it’s wrong. Would you say “Mama gave that house to I?” No, you would say “Mama gave that house to me.” So again, it’s “Mama gave that house to Jim and me.”
Don’t be afraid of ME, and don’t be tempted to use MYSELF.
Myself, I don’t like the word “myself” and there are few circumstances in which we need to use it.
Grammy thinks this is by far the easiest rule of all, but for some reason her fingers don’t agree with her brain. Who knew fingers had a life of their own? Maybe your fingers have the same problem?
Actually, the real problem is in the proofreading, because it is virtually impossible to proof your own writing. Your brain sees what you intended, not what’s there. Which is why professional proofreaders exist.
But if you post every day, like I do, well, it’s not practical or affordable to have your own proofreader. So we just have to try doubly hard to review our stuff. Still, I often see typos and errors AFTER I’ve posted. If you see one of those in my post, feel free to message me. Or you can call me out publicly, since it’s Grammar Bitch’s job to get it right.
Ok, so on to it.
IT’S with an apostrophe is IT IS. There are no exceptions. Here’s an example: It’s cold outside!
Its without an apostrophe indicates a possessive. As in this example: The castle was ancient and its beauty unparallelled.
Do NOT put an apostrophe in there, even if you are tempted, and I know that Grammar Devil is out there just waiting with his bag of apostrophes and will swoop in and place one where it’s not needed. Where IT IS not needed, right? Right.
Fight back! Don’t let the Grammar Devil make you do it!
Ok then. I know you have that one mastered.
I know you want another little quiz, right?
And if you doubt that, just look at this sign below:
But here, they meant They are, not their.
They’re means “they are.” As in “They are so wrong at Creative Kids Software.”
Their means a possessive. As in “Their grammar sucks.”
You get it, right?
If not, check Wikipedia.
Actually, don’t. Wikipedia is rife with errors because it is user-generated content and why people use it is beyond me. If my students used it as a reference they’d get an F.
None of them got Fs, though, because they all understood the rules. And you will too, by the time you finish this post. (It’s not “this blog,” it’s “this post.” And you know this because you retain what you read, right?)
And I don’t mean marriages. Maybe you do. I would, if it meant I could get some chore relief. Or if my sister-wife brought in a huge income. In those cases, plural marriage would be ok with me. But on to what I really mean.
What is it about possessives and plurals?
Grammar Bitch would like to educate the world on the use of apostrophes in plurals.
Don’t do it. No apostrophes in plurals.
So there you go. Grammy Bitch knows that this has been super-educational, right? And now you know what taking a workshop from me is like. Except that we’d all be laughing really hard out loud and I’d be giving out chocolates to those who got the answers right. Or maybe yo-yos. Or nice soaps. You know, just to make it more exciting. Yeah, try THAT in a webinar!
It’s Grammy Bitch, signing off. Til next time, happy, grammatically correct writing!
And I’ll let the mayor of Crestwood have the last word: