Grammar Catharsis

So I’ve decided that my posts might become a mix of helpful (I can only hope) and cathartic. This post will fall under cathartic. Perhaps it’s a post that should stay in draft, just like those texts and emails we want to send, but somehow we feel better just writing and wind up leaving in a draft folder.  For better or worse, I’m not a “leave it in draft” kind of girl.

I feel absolutely compelled to share my passion for grammar. I was that student, volunteering to diagram sentences on the board in junior high. I craved the most complex sentences that could be offered. Why? I don’t really know. I think I enjoyed the organization of it all. Every part of speech had its own place and it was a puzzle to be solved. Puzzles that typically came quickly to me. Perhaps I should have known then (not than) the career I was destined to acquire.

True confession: I seem to have a low frustration tolerance for poor use of oral grammar by adults. I know I should be more tolerant but, for me, it really is like fingernails on a chalkboard. When I find myself in a room with educated adults and I hear someone start a sentence with “Me and _____”,  I become completely distracted. I start wondering if it’s my job as the resident language therapist to make some sort of correction or modeling of correct grammar. That seems awkward at best, yet I feel like there is some sort of reflection on myself, as I am in proximity to this violation of word usage. I am still pondering my responsibility to these offenses.

There are a few errors so common that I feel that they have become acceptable. It has come to the point that when I am using the appropriate word,  I am in wait for someone to correct me.  I think the most obvious example  is “I feel badly”.  I’m sure there are people who are thankful that I have stopped correcting them by letting them know that “feeling badly” is not used for describing a state of being (feelings), but is intended for the physical state of feeling. It has come to the point that I  find myself avoiding the term at all costs. I’m actually afraid that I may be perceived as using the wrong word structure, and since that is inconceivable to me, I just avoid any usage at all. Maybe I should just refer violators here. I know it’s not the biggest violation one can make in this day and age, but it’s also easily avoidable.

I can’t even count the last few times I have heard or seen “that” substituted for “who” (e.g. I am a mother that has 3 boys). I know it’s not important to everyone but  I am just asking those of you  WHO (not whom)  are teaching grammar to know when to use “who” and when to use “that”. We will save “whom” for a later post. It’s actually pretty easy, “who” is for people and “that” is for things. I think I am not alone in this belief. For further explanation, if so desired, click HERE

So, I know that there are so many more important topics in the world currently but I still think this is a relevant issue to our profession. When I am in a team meeting and I hear someone using “Me” for “I” or “that” for “who” I feel like it compromises the integrity of the message, especially in an educational setting. I also think it can be a reflection on all members of a team sitting around a table. There are so many more demands placed on those of us working in public education and there are also those WHO can be quick to criticize. Don’t we want to put our best foot forward? As far as I’m concerned, using proper grammar is an easy start to doing just that.



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