Grammar and the Writer

That is the truth.

I have for the last two weeks been graciously allowed by my husband to practice using Linux on the laptop he uses for work. It’s been a nice luxury, one I enjoy a lot, since it allows him to surf the web in the evening and I can work on my stories.

But–as everything comes with a but–the browser on the Ubuntu operating system does not support freewebs easily, nor has it allowed me to yet do a blog on it.

Which drives me up the wall.

I love the quieter “tap tap” of the laptop keyboard to the stiff “thunk thunk” of the desktop keyboard. It doesn’t distract me as much, and truth be told.. I really just prefer it. I’m selfish that way.

Alas, I cannot keep putting off a new blog because the browser won’t let me do it.

So I have moved to the desktop, and I am enduring this with unnatural grace and elegance.

Beware. I might trip. I’ve never been good at doing things gracefully.

So for today’s topic, I’d like to hit on a sore spot for a lot of writers.

Grammar.

Yes, yes, I know. Your teacher in school wasn’t very strict about it. I recently have had the opportunity to see the current English teacher in action–and I find their performance quite lacking.

As I progressed through my own high school years, I remember the emphasis on proper grammar lessened as I moved from grade to grade. Why, I couldn’t say. Perhaps they think a high school junior or senior should know better by then.

But still, the idea that anyone (or everyone) won’t need refreshment on transitive, subjunctive, and other verbs, adjectives, prepositional phrases, clauses–all the laws and rules of the book–is laughable.

Despite being a proficient, if not excelsior, English student, I too have serious trouble with my own grammar. I find that I use the verb form “to be” much too often. As well as many other mistakes that would take hours to list.

Thankfully, my birthday strolled by last month, and my family actually bought me a few books from my wishlist at Amazon. (Thank you mudda, thank you fadda!) And of the books I requested, I received 3. Which turned out to be excellent buys.

The first, something all writers and perhaps everyone should have, a decent dictionary. I’d prefer an unabridged, giganto-normous dictionary with every word in existence–this dictionary doesn’t have “penchant”, among others–but the one I asked for works admirably well and came at a lower cost. I dream of the day I have my own “dictionodium” for keeping my humongous book in an accessible place. (And “dictionodium” is my own new word. Take it and I’ll demand a 5% fee! Or maybe just a footnote.)

I also got an excellent book on grammar–two books on grammar in fact, although I could have sworn I’d had only one on the list, but hey, they came for free, right?

The book I’m knee-deep in now is called “A Grammar Book for You and I–Oops, Me!” by C. Edward Good. You can find it at Amazon here.

A Grammar Book for You and I--Oops, Me!

A Grammar Book for You and I--Oops, Me!

This book is by far the most entertaining grammar book I’ve ever had the misfortune to read. Good addresses the problems most writers face–the over usage of “to be” verbs, using “however” to begin a sentence, and etc.–with an easy tone and unpatronizing style.

I’ve taken to opening the book up at any point and place two or three times a day and just reading what’s there. I highlight what I know is a mistake I make, or that I might find useful. I can also easily glance over the table of contents when I am in need of guidance for a specific problem and find it immediately.

He breaks things down in a simple way, turning the previously confusing and aggravating grammar ‘no-no’s into quick fixes that will make your own work easier to read.

I recommend this book to all my friends, whether writers, students, lawyers, or computer techs–and the list could really go on and on, everyone could always use better writing skills–and you should pick up a copy as soon as you can, if you don’t already have an good book on grammar.

I also bet that if you go back through the previous paragraphs, you’ll find any number of grammatical errors that I should be slapped, spanked, and painted red for.

Ah, well, such is the meaning of life.

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