When I was a senior in high school, my English teacher, Mrs. Umeck, gave us a first-year college grammar exam…just for fun. I was the only student in my class of 30 to pass the test, and I passed it with a 100% at that. I suppose that should have been my first sign that not everyone understood grammar – that it was as complicated and elusive as Algebra or Physics. And while I’ve grown to understand this, I still cringe when I see an egregious grammatical mistake.
Don’t get me wrong, though! I’m not judging when I’m reading a rough draft of a novel, or a novel in general. Typos happen, things fall through the cracks, schools of thought vary from time to time…in an 80,000 word manuscript, I don’t get obsessed.
But! When I’m walking down the street and see a one-line sign that has a glaring grammatical error…Well, there’s a part of me that wants to take a magic marker — or eraser, depending on the situation – to it. And another part of me that’s proud that I know it’s wrong. There’s one I have to stare at every single day on my subway commute: No eating, drinking on Path. Unfortunately, and very much to my chagrin, the sign is too high up for me to reach without standing on the seats.
Now, I know I’m not perfect — I know my copy-editor friend finds plenty of errors for me — but I do pride myself on having a pretty good grasp of English grammar. And when I’m feeling down about my writing, I can at least say to myself, “At least I know when to use a comma and when to use a semi-colon!” *sigh* Sad, but true :)
But I’m curious…Am I alone in this? Are there other people who are OCD about grammar? Do you have an example of a street sign that drives you insane? Or do you prefer not to let technicalities bog you down when you’re writing? And are you now thinking, “Wow! This girl is insane!” LOL!
Jerrica Knight-Catania is the author of A Gentleman Never Tells, soon to be published by Second Wind Publishing.