Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dangling Whats????

Photo credit: mconnors from morguefile.com

I love words. I love our language. I love punctuation. Three reasons I love what I do.

What I'm not always so good at is putting the things I love together in a grammatically correct fashion. My critique partners will attest to this. To me, a dangling participle and a dingle berry hanging off a dog's behind are pretty much the same thing.

But I'm trying. I really am.

I have Strunk and Strunk & White (I thought they'd be a lot thicker). I have Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss, and I have the 15th Edition of the Chicago Manual of Style which continues to read a bit like a foreign language to me. The CMOS website is pinned to my Top Sites page because usually it can lead me to the page in the manual I need to attempt to decipher.

My ear has always been where I first hear a bell ringing when something's off. That comes from growing up in a home where people spoke often and well. I can usually spot what, I just couldn't always tell you why.

Even though I'm not a whiz at grammar, I love it just as much as I love words and punctuation. When grammar is mangled (via my ear alone) I have to resist a desire to shriek. Phrases that have become acceptable in our daily conversations should be revised or wiped out.

Here's one: "Irregardless . . . " Huh???

Or . . . "Where are you at?"

What, or who, has helped you the most grammatically? Or are you a natural?

Do you have any grammar peeves the rest of us could learn from?

CR: On Edge by Barbara Fister.

It's all better with friends.


  1. My Mum was an elementary school teacher in England. She still reminds me when my grammar's off. I tell her I write better than I speak, though my characters have their own quirks.

  2. Quirks. Yeah. I like it.

    "Sorry if my grammar's a bit off. My writing is quirky."

    Nice to have a kind of built-in grammarian though.

  3. Oh, I know!

    I find the misuse of apostrophes an affront. 'It's' instead of 'its' makes my teeth froth and when I discover I've abused an apostrophe myself, Im mortified with shame ...

    ITS all better with friends!


  4. Well, your writing reads pretty clean to me, Peg, judging from your blog posts. Um, I mean cleanLY

  5. Yes, Peg, your blogs are clean. For learning grammar, I recommend one semester of teaching freshperson (I'm politically correct) English. In that length of time, students will teach you every grammatical and mechanical error it's possible to make. You'll spend more time in looking things up than you do in preparing for class. Pet peeves? My No. 1 is following a singular antecedent like "a person" or "everyone" with the pronoun "they." If ANYONE is afraid of offending the gender police, HE OR SHE should write the antecedent in the plural.
    After writing this post, I have put on my flak jacket and steel helmet.

  6. Donn, I've been guilty of that one myself. It's a conversational language-failure that, until it transferred over to my writing, I never knew I committed. (*winking* at Susan Lohrer who caught me every time.)