Where I’m Going With All This
Ever since graduating college (many, many years ago) with a bachelor’s in English and Journalism, I have been assaulted by grammatical errors and problems with punctuation on billboard ads and marketing collateral. I think, “Come on, didn’t this guy go to school?” So I’m filling the need to have an well-educated “stickler” provide the world with a brief review of all rules grammar.
I have been correcting people’s grammar and signage ever since I can remember. A neighborhood friend of mine always used to say “brang” as the past tense of “brought.” I would sigh, and with no further hesitation say, “Nick, you can’t say brang. It’s brought.” This was back in fifth grade! I should have known then what my profession would ultimately be.
At least two decades later, I was still at it. Working in the wonderful world of fast food, I noticed that there was a hand printed sign informing the employees of some meeting or something like that, which a manager had penned and posted prominantly on the door to the breakroom. I must have stewed on that grammatically incorrect missive for over an hour until I could no longer take it. I went to the 81/2 by 11 sheet of paper and ripped it down! “Who wrote this?” I asked, trying to contain my contempt. A manager stepped up, a bit incensed that I would be so bold as to destroy her carelessly written-out page, and said, “I did. Why’d you rip it down?”
As I explained what the problem was, I again should have known I would be a stickler. Not a very considerate one, but a stickler non-the-less.
Two months ago, I have seen where a man, better educated and more successful than I, has written things like “the pro’s and con’s.” And to make it worse, it was in a PowerPoint presentation to a group of potential clients! I could hardly control my desire to speak up and delicately point out his mistake.
Just this past week, I picked up Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss, which I hadn’t before solely because of its grammatical mistake on the cover. I came across something disturbing: About the many uses of the apostrophe, she writes, “It also indicates the plurals of words: What are the do’s and don’t’s? Are there too many but’s and and’s at the beginnings of setences these days?”
WHAT!?! I would have “bet the farm” as they say that the appostrophe wasn’t required in these cases. I may acquiesce to Ms. Truss about apostrophes, but I contend that the writer can begin a sentence with a conjunction to facilitate a joining or opposition of two sentences.
Or even paragraphs! Especially applicable if it’s added as a sort of afterthought.