FYI, I resigned from my long-held position on the grammar police force. All that angst and for no good purpose. Who am I helping when I edit your sentences in my head as we converse? Who gets hurt when a grammar or punctuation blunder assaults me when I read your writing? Well, unless I’m editing something you submitted for publication, I just don’t care anymore. Life is too short. I release all ownership of what you say and write. And while I’m spilling my guts, I have a confession: I don’t know everything; I make mistakes. So until I’ve memorized the Associated Press Style Book (not a goal in this lifetime) I will climb down from my high horse and trust the more gracious police to not come down too hard on me for my grammar faux pas.
My children can now relax too. From the day they spoke their first word to this present day, I’ve told them I will correct their English till my dying day. Wisely, I have not kept this promise. It doesn’t foster my otherwise healthy relationship with them. They all learned the language very well and don’t need a nit-picky mother to badger them any time they misspeak. They need a mother who will listen—only listen—to what they have to say, without fear of judgment or correction. And now that I think of it, maybe you and I can agree on the same arrangement. When you read an error here, you can just whisper in your own ear: Oh, I feel so much better about myself because I know more about grammar than Sherry knows. This allows me to save face, and I can keep on writing without worry that my ignorance will be exposed.
Twenty years ago my brother connected me to a major Christian bookseller who gave me a manuscript to edit as a test of my skills. Twenty years ago I hadn’t yet learned the rule for when to use which and when to use that in a sentence. The manuscript was literally packed with whiches and thats. I’m telling you, I fell flat on my face. I’d pay big bucks for a do-over, but that is water under the bridge, over the dam. But I’ve since learned how to correctly use which and that, which makes the editing part of my job much more fulfilling.
I want to keep learning. I don’t understand the proper use of the word literally. Can you help me with that?
[A whole post without a single picture. Bet you thought I couldn’t do it.]