A Grammar Lesson (Because the Public School System Has Likely Failed You)

This is SERIOUS BUSINESS for me, folks.

Since I have energy and an excellent lesson to spread, I’m posting. It’s about grammar and spelling. I’m insanely serious about these two things. Now, I’ll give people a break on the spelling because some people simply don’t have the talent I do when it comes to spelling words. (In an eighth-grade spelling bee, I correctly spelled words like “gulosity” and “kabuki” without ever hearing those words. I’m still proud of that 22 years later.) However, I have a gift that not all people do, so while I cringe when I see incorrect spelling, I can forgive it. Plus, even I sometimes succumb to spelling a word wrong, and my typos are endless on the internet.

Grammar is a different story. Some grammar errors on the internet are forgivable, but for the most part, I not only cringe when I see incorrect grammar, but I ask myself how the person could have possibly gotten it wrong. I’m not even going to talk about tenses or the simply horrendous sentences that don’t make any damn sense because the grammar is so incorrect. I’m just going to talk about simple things that you should already know.

Four Major Problems I Have:

  1. Your and You’re
  2. There, Their, and They’re
  3. Commas and Semi-Colons
  4. Quotation Marks

Your and You’re
This one is so simple that I’m actually put into shock when I see these mixed up. “You’re” is a contraction. It means “you are.” You would use this when saying something like, “You’re a wonderful person.” Your is a second-person word, just like “you.” It’s more challenging to explain, but if you’re using it in the place of where a contraction should be, you’re misusing it. You would use “your” in a sentence such as: “Your personality is wonderful.” In this case, you clearly don’t mean “You are personality is wonderful.” It’s just one word.

Test: Which of the following is correct?
a. Your gift is over there.
b. You’re gift is over there
c. Your bringing me a gift?
d. You’re bringing me a gift?

CORRECT! The answers were A and D! See, you’re smarter already. Now start using these correctly. Please. You see how simple it is.

There, Their, and They’re
This one is also just as simple. They’re (See! I’m using it correctly already!) just three words that sound the same, but have entirely different meanings. Believe me, even though you probably misuse these words, you can easily use them in their intended manner. “There” is sometimes speaking about a place. You’d use it when you’re saying, “It’s over there.” or “There is my backpack!” It is also used when not talking about a place, like, “There is Sunshine. She’s cool.” Quick quiz: Do you know why you would use “there” in those sentences instead of “their” or “they’re”? I’ll tell you! “Their” is a third-person word relating to them, they, etc. You would use it to describe something in the third person. For instance, “Their house is so lovely.” or “Their cat, Penny, is so cute!” That one is easy, right? You’ve got it. The last one is the most simple. Again, it’s a contraction meaning “there are.” So instead of saying, “They are both reading Sunshine’s lame-ass blog right now,” you can say, “They’re both reading Sunshine’s lame-ass blog right now.” Another example would be, “They’re really lame for doing that.” See? These words are easy. I bet you have them down now, so please, for the love of god, start using them correctly.

Commas and Semi-Colons
Commas can be elusive creatures. It can be challenging to use them correctly. Sometimes people use too many, and sometimes people use too few. There is one situation I can think of when you can choose to use a comma or not. It’s when you’re making a list. For example, both “…Independence Day, Halloween, and Christmas are my favorite holidays.” and “…Independence Day, Halloween and Christmas are my favorite holidays.” Some people use the former, and some people use the latter, so don’t fret about this situation. (I fully believe in the prior, though. Oxford commas for the win!) However, you’ll note that when making a list like that, you MUST USE COMMAS. End of story. There is no way around it. Then there are times when you shouldn’t use commas. One example is, “Sunshine is in the living room, with the remote control.” Commas are not needed there. One way to get better acquainted with when commas should be used or not is to read. If you don’t like books, it doesn’t have to be a book. You could read Cosmo or Guns and Ammo… which both have articles with the correct usage of commas. By the way, if you don’t know which magazine I would choose, I wonder why you would consider yourself my friend. There are so many examples in which people incorrectly use commas that I can’t get them all, but I genuinely recommend reading. It’s the best way to learn. It’s the best way to learn how to use all of these concepts, actually.

Commas and semi-colons are also easy to mix up. I don’t blame people for this too much, as many weren’t ever taught how to use semi-colons. Let’s pretend that you want to talk about how you enjoyed a movie, but found some aspects unlikeable. One way to say this is, “I loved The Great Gatsby, but didn’t like how Nick Carroway was in a mental hospital since it differed from the book.” But what if you wanted to use a semi-colon? You would say, “I loved The Great Gatsby; however, I didn’t like how Nick Carroway was in a mental hospital since it differed from the book.” You use a semi-colon in this place because you’re basically turning two sentences into one: “I loved The Great Gatsby.” and “However, I didn’t like how Nick Carroway was in a mental hospital since it differed from the book.” Another example is, “Sunshine is a loser; therefore, I will no longer read her blog.” Because these are two sentences, you would use a semi-colon. You would not say, “Sunshine is a loser, therefore, I will no longer read her blog.” You would be using a comma in place of a semi-colon.

Quotation Marks
I’m not talking about the grammar behind the quotation marks like I’ve used so far in these posts, mainly to quote things. And though I believe you should know how to use quotations that way, it’s more difficult since there are many more rules; besides, you probably don’t often use quotations like I’m using them. I’m talking about unnecessary quotation marks, which are so “annoying.” See, I just did it! And wasn’t it annoying? Quotation marks are often used sarcastically. Example: “Sunshine’s blog is ‘cool’ to say the least.” (I’m using ‘ instead of ” because when using quotations in the middle of a sentence already surrounded by quotations, you should always use ‘ instead.) By using the quotation marks, you’re insinuating that this blog is lame and certainly not cool. They’re used in other ways as well, but this would probably be the most common way you would use them unless you’re quoting somebody else’s words. I also use quotations in my next section below. I quoted “poetry grammar” because it is not an actual term, but a phrase I made up myself. There’s probably a real name for it; this is just what I call it.

Unnecessary quotation marks, however, are the worst. For example, when doing construction on my house, there was a block of wood used as a doorstop. It was labeled “doorstop.” That was not necessary. All that was needed were the words “doorstop” because by adding the quotations, it insinuated that this wasn’t exactly a doorstop.

“Poetry Grammar”
I call the grammar that I use “poetry grammar,” since I do not always follow grammar rules in my poetry, journal, or blog entries. I didn’t mention this above as one of the subjects, but I think you’ll be pleased that you can use “poetry grammar” as well. Unless you’re writing a professional report, feel free to start a sentence with “and” or “but.” I know you were taught not to do so in school, but it’s okay. Sometimes it makes more sense. Besides, real grammar professionals are coming around to agreeing with this. And non-professional grammar lovers like myself agree. This does not mean that you can throw all of the rules of grammar away. However, you aren’t required to use all of the grammar lessons you learned in school when casually writing. Of course, I repeat, when writing for school or work, please follow all grammar rules.

So there you go: your super quick grammar lesson! I hope you learned something and that you do not annoy me with incorrect grammar. Please, god, do not use incorrect grammar around me.

By the way, I get stuff wrong all of the time. The difference is, it drives me crazy!!!

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