Thursday, June 23, 2011

Mary Worth Syndrome and Grammar Pet Peeves

I’m far from a grammarian. I don’t like to be a grammar snob. There’s just too many chances you’ll let your guard down, or that there’s something you think you know that you really don’t ----such as the fact that the past tense of “dive” is NOT “dove” but it is “dived.” Well, actually, both are used, but “dived” is older and the preferred---okay, now you see what we’ve done? We’ve taken a bit of the fun out of writing and turned to grammar issues.

Because I work with grammar extensively on my day job, when I do the blog, I confess, I let my grammar guard down. Way down. Because this is to be fun, and I use it as my stress release.

But there are a few things that always get to me. Always.

The Mary Worth Syndrome—i.e. use until abuse

Have you ever noticed that Mary Worth uses so many bleepin’ exclamation points all the time!!!!!!!! I mean, come on!!!!!!!! Mary, how many exclaimation marks do you need??????

Of course, I’m exaggerating. She’s backed off a bit now But seriously! If you end everything! With an explanation point! It loses it’s power! Mary Worth does that! A lot!

But on the plus side, the Mary Worth comic demonstrates that I can do some good girlfriend SMACKDOWN!

King Features Syndicate

Bad, comma, use

At this time I’m going to see if my friend, who I am calling the Comma Nazi (CN), would step in and do a special thing on commas. I’m not good with commas. I’ve gotten better. CN always helps me out with it. She would do a better blog post than I. It’s just that there are times when, DANG, it sure seems a comma would look good there…but commas are like that dress I see in the store that would look so good on me until I actually try it on…well, okay they are not at all like that…oh, let’s just move on.

And as Mary Worth demonstrates, Dawn can do some girlfriend SMACKDOWN!

(copyright, and apologies to, King Features Syndicate)


Unless you’re doing the Hemingway thing. Where you leave the room to die. In the rain. Alone.

That can be effective, though I confess, I probably overuse that technique a bit. When I’m on the couch. Watching South Park. With George Clooney.

Ensure / Insure Errors

I see this all the time. Even on “official” government stuff or stuff from folks who should know better.

Insure= insurance.

Ensure = to guarantee

To ensure you have a good time at the amusement park, get medical insurance in case you break your leg.

(yeah, I know that’s the worst sentence ever.)

OMG!! You used TEXT speech in your LOL paper? WTF???

One of these things is not like the other. Texting is for texting. Words are for writing. You wouldn’t go sailing in a Toyota Corolla.

And finally...

You're/ your.... their, they're, there...

You only get a pass if you were half asleep when you wrote it. (which, sad to say, has happened to me before. Sleep writing. It's all fun and games until someone gets their eye put out.)

Mother of God, people. Get it right. It's not rocket science.


billie said...

Ha! I love how you planted a few other grammar pet peeves in there!

Dawn said...

Yeah, and don't you love the way I preach on grammar and then I spliced the Mary Worth cutline.
But I'm leaving it up. In admission of my blatant hypocrisy.
In the rain.
Alone :)

Michael said...

I, myself, dear Dawn, love, just love, the dear old, somewhat sadly unfashionable, comma. Seriously though, I really do. I am a huge fan of Victorian era writing, and there were some wonderful exemplars of the comma around then. My ultimate fave is John Ruskin, who, when faced with the choice between, a full stop, and a wonderful, rolling, winding, meandering sentence, full of commas, chose the comma, every time. Commas are like parmesan cheese for me, sprinkle in liberally...

billie said...

I have to say I think the insure/ensure thing is less black and white than insure = insurance company lingo. But I know that's one way some of the style guides apply it. If someone wants to use one or the other and make their case for it being a more fitting use of the verb, I'm fine w/ that.

You're/your, they're/there/their, and it's/its are probably my two biggest pet peeves. Those aren't murky and get messed up all the time.

Fun post, Ms. Wilson!

Dawn said...

Michael, you make a wonderful, eloquent, and glorious argument for the comma.I think sometimes with my journalism background --where it was always "use less, use less" we forget about the beauty of language...
And Billie---I'm willing to predict that within the next 5 years, insure / ensure will be like theatre / theater and be used interchangably (except for that relating to insurance).