National Grammar Day

It was March 4. A friend sent me this article and it got me thinking...

I am reminded of that best seller of a few years back, EATS, SHOOTS, LEAVES.  That was mainly about commas and the misuses thereof.  Like my friend, I am somewhat of a stickler for grammar, not quite as stickler as she is. She reads the newspaper with a Magic Marker.  It’s one of her daily pleasures and why deny her?

I have long since given up on lie/lay and even on less/fewer, and like/as if.  They are all lost causes though I still wince. But dangling modifiers and faulty antecedents are still worthy causes because of the very real dangers of misapprehension and mistakes they threaten. 

As to the pronoun “they” applied to a singular antecedent, I have been getting around that error (if, indeed, it is one as many grammarians seem to think it isn’t), by recasting the sentence entirely, beginning with a plural subject.  Or not.

I’ll tell you one problem I do have, have had ever since I stopped using a typewriter.

 Go back a bit: I began to write on a typewriter when I was a little girl in my father’s office. Of course then it was hunt and peck.  I was 15 when I started university and my father sent me to Business College, half-days in July before classes began. He said I should learn to touch-type. Of course, I didn’t want to go, but I had no choice. One didn’t in those days.  I’ve been grateful ever since, and even more so for my Christmas gift that year: a portable typewriter. I wrote all my essays and papers and even my Master’s thesis on that dear old thing – old by the time I was through with it. I graduated from it to an IBM Selectric, purchased second-hand from our insurance agent after Bill died.  Both those machines were more thrilling to me than my first computer. I remember hesitating at the price, the outlay of money, the gamble that a home computer would be worth it, I thought perhaps (!) it was not the last such machine I would ever buy.  I mean, look at my Mixmaster and my Osterizer. I had owned two or three of them.  So I would probably own more computers.  Probably!  You want to discuss planned obsolescence?  Right now there are five computers in the house, three of them in daily use, one still holding archives I may need, and one I’m not sure why it’s still here.  On that ungrammatical sentence I will proceed to my ongoing practical worry about usage.

See, I learned on the typewriter how to distinguish between essays and stories, books, plays, films, and so, on with the use of quotation marks, italics and underlines.  My first computer (a Kaypro IV, by the way) had rather elaborate means of reproducing such signs, methods I can’t seem to use any more.  Maybe someone will tell me how.  Is it easy?


Story: “The Pearl Necklace”

Movie: “The Pearl Necklace” or simply The Pearl Necklace.

Book:  The Pearl Necklace.  (Ideally, The Pearl Necklace

            (I changed the font and now I have to go back and restore the regular font)

Like this – but it’ such a nuisance.


I think I had better consult a Style Book.  I’ll check this out but if anyone out there (all three of you) can show me the way, please do.