“Its almost football season. I can’t wait!”
As a member of the grammar police, I cringed when I read that text message from my brother. The missing apostrophe that should’ve been wedged between the t and s in the word “its” was an obvious indication of my brother’s inability to understand the difference between a contraction and a possessive.
I texted back and corrected him.
His response: “I couldn’t care less.”
There are some of us who do care. That’s why grammar police like myself are constantly on patrol, busting anyone who cannot distinguish between “Its” and It’s,” “your” and “you’re, “two,” “to,” and “too,” or “their,” “there,” and “they’re.” Contrary to popular belief, we don’t patrol the highways and byways of language as a snobbish form of one-upmanship, but rather a genuine concern for rapidly declining grammar usage.
Grammar matters. Quality is in the details, and correctly using commas, semicolons, and quotation marks tells readers that you’re careful and competent. A resume free of spelling errors and grammatical bloopers will keep it from going straight to the trash. Also, using correct punctuation can make the difference in the message you’re trying to convey and how the message is interpreted. For instance, imagine a man sending an apologetic text to his wife.
“I’m sorry. I love you.”
“I’m sorry I love you.”
The second sentence may land the husband in divorce court.
Unfortunately, not everybody is down with conveying ideas with clarity and precision. I blame some of this on technology. First, while texting is one of the most popular forms of written communication, we’re hardly authoring Pulitzer Prize-worthy masterpieces. Most texts read like this: “C u 2nite at the par-t.” This type of informal communication becomes ingrained in our writing skills. Second, the younger generation has displayed an overreliance on spell-check instead of developing their proofreading skills. Spell-check never catches typos that are actual words. Example: “I’ll drive the care to the beach.” Third, social media sites sometimes limit your number of characters (Twitter’s limit was once 140), so why waste one on a comma?
Of course, we cannot pin all this on technology. Some people genuinely don’t think grammar matters and erroneously assume they will still be clearly understood in their own ways of writing and communicating.
Sorry, but that logic simply doesn’t fly. Grammar rules are a necessity because they ensure clear communication and understanding.
Going forward, please don’t call us grammar police. Think of us as protectors of punctuation, supervisors of spelling, correctors of comma splices, and regulators of run-on sentences. Just know that there’s no ill will and we have your best interest at heart.
Still think we’re uptight snobs?
I couldn’t care less.