In Praise of Grammar

I may be dating myself here, but I remember diagramming sentences back in junior high. . . and liking it.  The logic and organization of it appealed to me, and I loved the challenge of untangling the grammar puzzle.

No doubt I am in the minority on this one.  But bear with me while I make the case in support of grammar for all Wisdom Warriors.  In my opinion, proper grammar facilitates learning by ensuring that ideas are expressed clearly.  And isn’t it the job of the Wisdom Warrior to learn?  Plus, I like the idea of holding myself to a higher standard for communication.  It’s easy to cut corners and be sloppy, but a real Warrior would “do the right thing, do the thing right.”

Here, then, are a few rules to help you walk the Grammatical Rice Paper without tearing it:

  1. COLON.  Poor misused and misunderstood colon.  I rarely see this guy used correctly.  In general, what comes before a colon must be a complete sentence.  What comes after it can be either a list or another complete sentence.  Therefore, when you see something like “This product contains no: blah, blah, or blah” you have just witnessed Colon Abuse.  The phrase “this product contains no” is NOT a complete sentence.  It is, however, easily corrected by writing “this product does not contain the following” instead.
  2. APOSTROPHE “S.”  Apostrophe Abuse makes my skin crawl.  There are a couple of easy rules for Happy Apostrophication.  Use an apostrophe “s” to show possession, as in Ted’s phone.  You do not need to use an apostrophe “s” if it is a possessive pronoun, though (e.g. his, hers, its,  yours).  The only time to use an apostrophe “s” with the word it is when you are writing a contraction for it is or it has.  For example, you would write “it’s a nice day” or “it’s time to go.”  But you would NOT write “the dog chased it’s tail.”  That would mean “the dog chased it is tail.”  And you do not need to use an apostrophe “s” with plural names, capital letters, or numbers.  So “she was popular in the 1990’s” is incorrect.  You simply need to write 1990s.
  3. QUOTATION MARKS.  In general, periods and commas go inside quotation marks.  In some cases, this rule can make your sentence look funny, but it really is the right way.  If I were to refer to the book “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”, I can’t write it the way I just did here.  I would need to put that comma directly after Hallows and inside the quotation marks.

Happy Writing!

6 responses

  1. This is a good one, Aimee. I’m sure I misuse colons but your rule will make that easier for me to know how to use them correctly. By the way, I used to like diagramming in school too.

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