I am a stickler for good grammar.
I’ve never been comfortable correcting folks when they defile grammar when speaking. But, in writing, that’s another story all together.
As an editor, it’s been my job for 20 years here at the Word Workshop to correct the copy of others.
And in my first career just out of college, it was my job as an English teacher of junior high and high school students to help them write and speak like educated humans.
There were, of course, times I failed and my students continued to drive me out of my mind with their misplaced modifiers, incorrect tenses and improper placement of pronouns.
More times, however, my students got it.
I know this because I hear from many of them. They are well into adulthood and are practitioners of good grammar in writing and in speaking.
Charlene Leverette was my English teacher three out of my four years in high school. Sadly, she died several years ago, but I’d rather have walked a mile barefoot on crushed glass than ever have disappointed her by using poor grammar.
Excuse me for being judgmental, but using bad grammar just makes one come across as an inerudite ignoramus.
I do, of course, have several pet grammar peeves, so humor me, while we have a little review.
• At is a preposition. Don’t end a sentence with a preposition. Therefore, never ask where someone is at. Never.
I’m often tempted when I hear someone ask, “Where’s he at?” to answer as my grandmother always did: “Between the a and the t.” But I doubt anyone would understand.
Let’s review: Where is Leslie at? Wrong. Where is Leslie? Absolutely correct.
• Subjective case pronouns – those that can be used as the subject of a sentence – are I, he, she, they. Objective case pronouns – which can’t be used as sentence subjects – are me, him, her, them.
And the pronoun representing you, the speaker, goes last.
Me and Ginna do not lose patience with poor grammar. Ginna and I, however, do.
• I answer my phone to hear someone say, “May I speak to Leslie?”
I do not say, “This is her.” I do say, “This is she.”
Co-worker Taylor Vance, a young, relatively new reporter at the Journal who happens to be from my hometown, gets the prize for always using proper grammar when answering the phone. Kudos, Taylor.
That concludes our grammar lesson for this week. Thanks for indulging me.
Maybe next week in this space, we’ll diagram some sentences.