Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fear The Grammar Nazi

I am a Grammar Nazi. I have issues with spelling and punctuation as well, but poor grammar makes me want to hurl baby rabbits from tall buildings. I can’t help myself. I wasn’t born this way, but a relentless corrective father and competitive siblings molded and beat me into the hardcore zealot that I am today. In all my years in sports and music, in all competition of every kind, from Pinewood Derby to piano quartets to all star baseball championships, I have never tasted victory so sweet as catching my old man in a grammatical blunder. It is seraphic nectar.

Vocabulary was also a big thing around the house. If you wanted to impress dad, you paid less attention to home runs, goals, or buzzer-beaters. Instead, you would casually drop “indolent” instead of lazy, “odoriferous” in place of smelly, or the word “dilatory” in conversation.

With age has come intolerance. Things that merely drew a haughty snicker years ago actually bother the hell out of me today. If you want to agitate me, hammer me with a double negative. If you want to really draw my wrath, add an apostrophe to the possessive “its.” If you want me to wildly thrash around as if possessed by the unholy, pestiferous Satan himself, improperly use personal pronouns in conversation. I see celebrities, journalists, orators, anchorpeople, religious leaders, and politicians screw this one up every single day. It is inexcusable.

I fully understand that my rigid stance puts a great and spacious target on my own back. The haughtier they are, the harder they fall. I’m sure I make grammatical errors from time to time and I accept that. So if you see it, call it. I can take the heat. Though I'll cry while I burn.

There are ridiculously simple rules for sentences involving personal pronouns, i.e. him, he, she, her, I, me, etc. Any time a phrase contains two or more people, where one or more is a personal pronoun, simply extract all but one subject and repeat the sentence. Here are is an example:

“Would you like to catch a movie with David and me?” or “Would you like to catch a movie with David and I?”

Oftentimes people automatically assume that “David and I” is correct. Somehow the personal pronoun “me” has become the pronoun parriah. The easiest way to determine which is correct is to back David out of the phrase:

“Would you like to catch a movie with me?” or “Would you like to catch a movie with I?” Sounds stupid, doesn’t it? The obvious answer is “me”, therefore the correct sentence is “Would you like to catch a movie with David and me?”

Another easy rule involving personal prounouns is "finish the sentence." For example:

"Brutus is way fatter than him." or "Brutus is way fatter than he."

Just further finish the sentence. Which sounds better? "Brutus is way fatter than him is." or "Brutus is way fatter than he is." Duh.

These rules work for all instances of sentences involving personal pronouns. One other fairly hard fast rule is that any sentence where “I” or “me” is present with another personal pronoun or name, “I” or “me” comes last. “David, Heather, and I” or “Heather, David, and me.” FEW exceptions.

Naturally, all of you possum readers are brilliant and grammatically gifted, so this doesn’t apply to you at all. But I call upon you to be crusaders for light and justice. It is time to rise against the ignorant or well-intentioned cretins. Spread the word. Feed the sheep. Set the donkey wheel back on its axis. Save the cheerleader, save the world. Together we can make a difference. Amen.


Snyder-mom said...

Wow, after that post I'm almost afraid to leave a comment. I'd hate to say something that would make you beat your head against a wall. You may also want to refrain from reading my posts, because that would definitely push you over the edge.
I did have to agree with you on the double negative issue though. I just cringe when my mother-in-law says she's going to "de-thaw" the meat from the freezer.
It also drives my dad insane on almost every doctor or cop show they almost ALWAYS say "What-da-ya got?"

ZAC said...

Grammar Nazi is right! But your children will be blessed for having good be relentless Dad.

Chas said...

So was this post meant for me? I felt I was reading an entirely different language. I did catch one blunder. Baseball All Star games? Um yeah right.

Anonymous said...

great article. I would love to follow you on twitter.