Tag Archives: red pen

Grammar Gal, too

First, I must be upfront. In this post, I’m stepping away from my traditional Mommy Tales to indulge another passion: writing and editing.

Next, I must confess my love for Grammar Girl and her aptly-chosen name, which I obviously can’t get out of my head while attempting a suitable title for this post. My apologies, with utmost respect.

But there is more than one “grammar person” out there, of that I am certain (excluding/including my own mother, to whom I owe so much). Otherwise there wouldn’t be so many writing blogs I keep getting sucked into each time I try to write. I have no idea how, but I stumbled upon this article the other day about a fellow grammarian’s secret desire and I wanted to shout, “Yes! Someone else!”

You see, you have no idea that I copy edit every. thing. I. read. everything I read.

Menus. Novels. Signs. Instructions. Newspaper articles. Magazine advertisements.

When I speak, I make mistakes. (I’ve even developed a stutter when I’m nervous, where did that come from?) When I write, I split infinitives. I change my tenses. I even (gasp!) end my sentences with a preposition, on occasion. (Which is more accepted than I once believed, I’m learning. But I will ALWAYS physically cringe anytime I hear, “Where’s the car at?” Argh.) I use the first-person voice when I blog, way. too. much.

But I really pride myself on finding typos. I admit, I have submitted comments on websites so the author can correct spelling errors (OK just once did I have that much nerve, but it was a professional article misspelling Procter & Gamble — any true Cincinnatian would have done the same).

I corrected the handout I received at a training session the other day, when someone typed, “Sunday, December 10” followed immediately by, “Sunday, December 11” — only one of those dates can be Sunday, right? Literally, scratched out the first “Sunday” and scribbled next to it “Saturday” for no one’s benefit but my own.

Also recently, I rewrote one of those dastardly facebook trends, correcting all the typos I could find before re-posting to my profile (which I “never” do, except in regards to my esteemed, late father). Speaking of … is “re-post” the correct spelling? Or is “repost” the preferred/accepted spelling now? Anyone?

(Actually, don’t even get me started on spelling and facebook. I still don’t know how I stop myself — especially those first couple months — from correcting grammar and/or spelling errors. I guess I realize on some level it would be just plain rude. Still I disappoint myself by allowing our unique English language to be manipulated like that. Just as I cringe — a little bit — each time I witness my very own thumbs texting “r u ok” instead of spelling out the words and ending my sentence with the correct punctuation. I hate to think of all the variations of our language that will take place in the next 20, 50, 100 years, all in the name of speed.)

The fact is, in a former life (to which I will affectionately refer as “BC: Before Children” — my tribute to you, Dad) I was paid (very little) to have a red pen in hand. I was paid to tighten content, correct grammar and circle misspellings. And I loved it.

I also learned the hard way — from our adviser, who read our college paper AFTER it was published each week, and pointed out any errors in reporting or editing. “Buses are not kisses, Kara,” he once wrote in red scrawl, for the whole staff to see. I remember that sting each time I pass a billboard on I-74 for a restaurant that advertises parking for “busses”. (And my poor husband probably hears about it each time, too. But our children will know!)

Garner vs. garnish. Ouch, that was an embarrassing lesson, also.

There were more. There are more. It’s tough to catch them all. That’s why magazines and papers have editors. That’s why “they” say to write one day, and edit the next. I hope someday to again be in a position where the focus is on tightening my own content, and correcting my grammar or misspellings. I hope to one day be in a position to help others, too.

Red pen-wielder or no, if you enjoyed the linked article above, then you might also like another gem I found when I was googling the correct spelling of misspelling, just to be sure.

Because I’m not perfect. But I do try.

I promise: I won’t judge you for your grammar, if you won’t judge me for my instinctual red pen quick-draw.