Grammar Wednesday


O’Mama and I were in a local food store yesterday when I noticed this:


O’Mama gently and politely pointed the gaff out to the cashier while I was snapping the picture with my iPhone.  While I can’t attest to the cashier’s demeanor before we arrived, she was decidedly cold and unfriendly as O’Mama explained, kindly and without any snobbery in her tone, that the apostrophe is unnecessary in the sign.  The girl checked us out with a set jaw and without making eye contact, and I was sure she was thinking decidedly unhappy thoughts as concerned our persons.  O’Mama suggested on the way out that perhaps it was she who wrote the sign in the first place.

Dudley forwarded me this article yesterday.  The thesis of the piece is that stress from the weakening economy is causing an increase in incidents like O’Mama and I were a part of yesterday.  People, feeling helpless about things like the security of their jobs or whether or not they’ll be able to keep up with their mortgages, are finding it satisfying to pick on things they CAN control, like other people’s spelling and grammar errors.

I’m going to admit here that I’m pretty sure that theory does not apply to me.  I’ve been correcting grammar and spelling errors where I find them since long before the economy started gagging, so I can’t use stress as an excuse.



Filed under bad grammar, frustrations, General Griping, Grammar, out in the real world

10 responses to “Grammar Wednesday

  1. A while back, a boy who had previously been my fifth grade student and is now in middle school, called me up to tell me about an assignment he had received in his English class: to find examples of grammatical errors “out in the world.” He asked for advice on what to look for. I suggested misuse of apostrophes, a subject upon which we had spent much time in my classroom, as it is one of my personal pet peeves. My student called back a couple of days later to say that he had been wildly successful – the world was rife with inappropriate uses of “apostrophe s.” He was shocked; I was merely resigned. Sadly, your “Oreo’s” example is all too common. And too few seem to care!

  2. Mamie, the thing is that too few DO care. I don’t correct things to make the people who wrote them feel stupid; I correct them so that the people who read them will know the correct way to use the language.

    Here’s the thing – is it right for us to insist on proper language usage in the classroom, but allow improper usage out in the real world? What’s the point of teaching language and grammar if it doesn’t move beyond the walls of the schools?


  3. I know how strongly you feel about grammar and I, too, hate to see dipshittery scattered about but could we consider to whom (I have no idea how to use whom, just going to assume it goes here) we address our concerns.

    I’m sure that O’mama didn’t use a snobbish tone but don’t you agree that bringing it up at all has a “you kids get off my lawn” feel to it? It has a school marmishness and scolding implication even when it’s done incredibly kindly, don’t you think?

    In these harsh economic times in particular working a minimum wage job is deadening. Speaking as someone who does not love her job but loves to see her animals fed and watered I have to say that sometimes expecting me to give a shit about my crappy job that has little or nothing to do with my interests or skills in the world is a pipe dream. It’s possible that in very short order I’ll be a barista or a cashier or sweeping the freaking streets and I’ll do it, ’cause it’s what we do to make ends meet but I’m not going to put my heart in it. Correcting my grammar while I’m sweeping the street, (and I’m betting it wasn’t that girl’s grammar) would not make you me love you. I think my attitude might be, take your picture, talk to my manager, get out a sharpie and fix it but please do not ask me to engage in this hell I’m living.

    Just guessing. But I’m told I have a vivid imagination.

    All that being said, why don’t you carry a sharpie and fix the things you see that are like that? I’m sure no one would mind and you could take before and after shots. It’d make for a fun series and it’d be a great excuse to buy great colors of sharpie!

  4. Chili, I do quite agree with you that the problem IS the lack of caring. And it is indeed a tough call on when to draw attention to grammatic falterings and when to hold one’s tongue (Kizz makes some good points on this topic). I definitely posses schoolmarm-ish tendencies and invariably cringe visibly upon being subjected to errors of usage and grammar. My mother and grandmother both modeled and instructed us directly with regard to correct grammar, and I do the same with Niece and Nephew and in classroom situations. “In the world” I think I tend more toward the subtle modeling approach than to the explicit discussion because I shy away from confrontation. I do admire your direct approach, both in terms of your sense of personal grammatic integrity and illumination you seek to bring to the world! 🙂

  5. Melissa

    I see this grammatical mistake often and it always irks me, yet I wouldn’t have thought to bring it up to the cashier. Reading that your companion did actually made me cringe a little, as I could only imagine how uninterested or even hostile the response could be! You may have been lucky that she clenched her jaw and bit her tongue. I think Kizz’s comments about the current economy and the resulting mental state are dead-on.

    While I, too, want to see correct grammar used out in the real world, many people are so sensitive about being corrected — even kindly — that it often backfires and makes them defensive. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve introduced myself as an English teacher only to hear “well, you’ll have to excuse my grammar…” I hate that people assume I will rip apart their grammar even in casual conversation!

  6. shouldn’t “chocolate covered” also be hyphenated? not to be TOO picky, but just wondering…

  7. Although I have some grammar pet peeves, overall I am not confident enough in my grammar usage to correct other people.

    I echo Kizz and the others when they talk about the economy and the the frustration and anxiety people are already feeling.

    I think I would have handled it differently. I would have eaten all but one of the Oreos and then crossed out the ” ‘S” on the sign.

  8. Finding mistakes in the real world is irritating. Finding them in official school communications, especially those that go out to parents, is infuriating. Yesterday we got yet another memo from one of our counselors about a change in the testing schedule and he had used “effect” instead of “affect”. Even though I am a drama teacher, I find such mistakes teachable moments, so when one of my students asked what the difference was between the two choices, I explained and tried not to go off on a rant about the need for us to be hypervigilant about such things.

  9. Grammar mistakes aside, those things look delicious.

  10. I is no unstanding hear (joke). Really, I pointed out this mistake once in a shop only for the lady to tell me I was incorrect.

    Dingo: “I would have eaten all but one of the Oreos and then crossed out the ” ‘S” on the sign.”

    Great idea

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