Friday, May 22, 2009

Grammar - is it important?

A headline in this morning's Northwest Herald got my attention. It read, "It went by too quick."

The reporter was quoting the mother of a McHenry East High School student, who was apparently speaking of how quickly her daughter's school years had passed. OK, so the mother could have said, "It (the school year) went by too quickly" or "They (the school years) went by too quickly." The point is that an adverb "quickly" is called for, not the adjective "quick".

How many people make this mistake? Many? MANY!

But why would an editor repeat an incorrect sentence in a headline, giving it more credence?

I heard a lawyer say in court yesterday, "Him and his wife (did something)..." "Him" and his wife? No! His wife and he ...

Again, another common error.

Where do people learn this? Right in our schools. Years ago I was visiting a third grade class at Dean Street School and heard the teacher said something like, "Him and I went to the library." A teacher used language like that? And then, three weeks later in an IEP with 11 school district employees, that same teacher said something like, "He gave the books to him and I."

Is it any wonder our kids grow up using incorrect language?

Another favorite is "None were (doing something) ." The correct form is "None was...", understanding the "none" is singular and can be thought of as "Not one..." You wouldn't say, "Not one were doing that." (Although some will incorrectly say, "Not one of them were doing that."

Should you use words you can't spell? In a local educational summary this past week, I saw again the word "upserp". When I saw this word used in the same document last year, I held my tongue. This year? It's time for someone (more than one person) to learn that the word is "usurp." Maybe the person spelled it that way because she pronounced it that way. Or did she merely pronounce it the way it was spelled?

Language makes a difference. If I were an employer and an applicant showed a pattern of poor English skills, I'd keep looking!


Karen12359 said...

Aoccdrnig to rseerach at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh?

Gus said...

Good one, Karen!