Grammar Wednesday

Before we begin, please go on over to CaliforniaTeacherGuy‘s place and send him a little love. His dad died yesterday, and I’m certain he’d appreciate your prayers and expressions of support. Go on – I’ll wait…….

You’re back? Okay – so, onward to Grammar Wednesday, the Mea Culpa Edition.

CTG wrote me a note about my last Grammar Wednesday post:

My dear Mrs. Chili,

Here’s a grammar grappler from your very own blog:

Look, I’ve got a lot of real life friends and Blogging Buddies who teach in public schools, and I want you all to know that I don’t hold any of you personally responsible, but I want to know this: how is it that a 20 year old makes it to college without knowing how to make plural possessives?!

According to my copy editor’s eye, I believe some much-needed hyphens are missing. Shouldn’t 20 year old be written 20-year-old?

Don’t hit me, please!

Fondly,
CTG

He sent me this note at just about the same time I threw my back out, and I didn’t get back to him right away, causing him to worry that he’d offended me. Far from being offended, I actually LIKE having my mistakes pointed out to me; it’s how I learn. Call me out on my shit, my friends!

CaliforniaTeacherGuy is absolutely correct; I DO need hyphens in the adjective phrase that describes my students. I found this at Washington State University’s website:
Hyphenate ages when they are adjective phrases involving a unit of measurement: “Her ten-year-old car is beginning to give her trouble.” A girl can be a “ten-year-old” (“child” is implied). But there are no hyphens in such an adjectival phrase as “Her car is ten years old.” In fact, hyphens are generally omitted when such phrases follow the noun they modify except in phrases involving “all” or “self” such as “all-knowing” or “self-confident.” Fractions are almost always hyphenated when they are adjectives: “He is one-quarter Irish and three-quarters Nigerian.” But when the numerator is already hyphenated, the fraction itself is not, as in “ninety-nine and forty-four one hundredths.” Fractions treated as nouns are not hyphenated: “He ate one quarter of the turkey.”

So, thanks, CTG, for pointing this out to me. I’ve fixed it in last week’s entry, and will strive to be more careful with my hyphens in the future.

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11 Comments

Filed under about writing, colleagues, Grammar, Learning, self-analysis, writing, Yikes!

11 responses to “Grammar Wednesday

  1. One day one of my bluegrass friends was in the office when we had a sudden emergency. Of course I tranformed into a beast he did not recognize and shouted out all sort of orders about hypoxia, bradycardia, ischemia, hypotenion, etc., etc. It was old hat to me, but when the dust settled I realized he was quite shaken.
    He said, “Tommy, you’re the man,” as he wobbled to a chair to keep from fainting.
    When I read all those grammar rules, I thought “mrschili, you’re the man.” (or woman, that is.)
    Kinda all boils down to what area we are trained in, huh?
    When my buddy plays a mandolin solo, I think he’s the man, and he is. He does it all day every day, and I can’t touch him on the mando.

    Dr. B

  2. Thanks for sharing CTG’s e-mail, and thank you for paying attention to his latest post.

  3. John, that’s one funny ass-comic!! Thanks for that!

  4. lots of folks in my teaching program used to make a big deal of correcting any of my grammatical mistakes, thinking i would be “put in my place” somehow, or be offended/ashamed. far from it – it’s because i love grammar so much that i work hard to use it correctly. if i don’t, i want to know it! jitta and i are always correcting each other. 😉

  5. Kim

    Thanks for caring so much for others. I gave my thoughts to CTG.

  6. Anonymous

    I appreciate your grammar lessons but your language is crass and vulgar.

    Shouldn’t the teacher set a higher standard for her pupils?

  7. Really, Anonymous? What, exactly, was crass and vulgar? You clearly don’t know me, or you wouldn’t be questioning my professionalism.

  8. Pingback: Trolls…. « The Blue Door

  9. Organic Mama

    Let me here heartily support the use of such highly instructive and colorful phrases like “shit” and “ass” because they do exactly what anonymous clearly objects to: these are words that make us sit up and notice.. and doesn’t someone have thin skin?
    If teachers don’t have cause to swear, who does???

  10. Hyphen

    Funny that the hyphenation question isn’t dealing with “grammar” at all. It’s orthography (spelling) conventions that are at issue here.

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