That’s right: National Grammar Day is back! This year marks the fourth annual celebration of writing right, and is hosted by New York Times bestselling author Mignon Fogarty, better known as Grammar Girl. From the website,
Language is something to be celebrated, and March 4 is the perfect day to do it. It’s not only a date, it’s an imperative: March forth on March 4 to speak well, write well, and help others do the same!
For my part in observing the day, I considered all kinds of lists to present to you to help you maintain good grammar, or improve it if you have trouble in certain areas. But I’ve already linked you to Ms Fogarty’s site, and I strongly recommend her to you.
I would also encourage you to check out John E. McIntyre’s blog at the Baltimore Sun, “You Don’t Say.” (In addition to insightful articles decrying the AP Stylebook and misguided prescriptivism, Mr. McIntyre has instructional videos on how to tie a bow tie and make a proper martini.)1
So instead I would like to present a few general maxims with regard to grammar, and perhaps help demolish a few myths along the way.
- There’s nothing wrong with ending a sentence in a preposition. Anyone who proclaims otherwise doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
- Unless you’ve been asked, or unless you’re being paid to do so, publicly correcting someone else’s grammar is rude, at best.
- Hopefully, you already know this use of “hopefully” is perfectly okay in any context.
- The old Star Trek opening—”…to boldly go…”—is, in fact, grammatically correct. Splitting infinitives is proscribed in Latin, but not in English.
- There is a correct way to use whom; chances are, like me, you don’t know the rule cold. Instead, use who and you’ll be correct almost all of the time.2 (Actually, I do know the rule; I just don’t always practice it when speaking.)
- My one prescriptivism: one space after a period or colon. It doesn’t matter if you were taught to type two spaces: Things change, and that’s one of the things that has changed since we stopped using typewriters. Two spaces are wrong. That said, I won’t hate you if you type two spaces. I won’t even get heartburn. But I will edit out the second space. And not with “track changes” on, either!
But this isn’t all about my hangups: Are there any so-called “rules” that the uninformed cling to, which drive you nuts? Share ‘em in the comments!