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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Hello...My Name Is Donna...I Am a Grammar Nazi

I am a grammar nazi. I'll admit it. I am that annoying person who will correct you if you improperly use the words there, their or they're, your or you're, and who or whom. I drive my children crazy to the point where they will no longer let me read their school papers. Apparently, I am more picky than their English teacher. I am not a total hard ass though, I can forgive the occasional misplacement of a comma, or even an errant semicolon, but Heaven help you if I find a dangling participle or, if you really want to see me go off the deep end, end a sentence with a preposition. I am convinced that my children do this just to watch me snap.

I am an even worse critic when it comes to spelling. I understand that not everyone is a great speller, I get that, but, in my opinion, we should leave certain jobs to the good spellers. For instance, the person who writes the daily specials on the dry-erase boards at restaurants. I realize that this is not a life or death situation for most people, but for someone like me to have to sit and stare at a board proclaiming the pie of the day to be "Bananna Creem Pie" is pure torture. I couldn't focus. I could feel myself starting to sweat as I stared at these two innocent little words until, finally, I cracked. I got up from the table, erased the offending words, and wrote them correctly. I returned to my seat where my lunch date was trying desperately to make himself invisible, and smiled sweetly at the waitress who was clearly not amused. I felt better, though, and that was all that mattered to me.

Another profession where good spelling comes in handy is if you are a tattoo artist. While watching the Olympics, I heard a story about a British woman who was chosen to be a torch bearer. Wanting to commemorate this auspicious event, she headed down to her local tattoo parlor and got a lovely tattoo of the olympic rings.  Underneath the rings were the words "Oylmpic torch bearer".  I kid you, not. They f***king spelled the word OLYMPIC wrong on this poor woman's tattoo. HER TATTOO. She will now have to walk around for God knows how long with this glaring error permanently inked on her body. OH. MY. GOD.  I could never survive this. I couldn't. I would have to amputate my arm or something. So, if you are going to get a tattoo, take a few seconds and check to make sure that the spelling is correct before this bonehead inks you up. You might think that this doesn't happen often, but google misspelled tattoos....OH MY GOD.

And as anal-retentive as I can be about grammar and spelling in other people's work, I cannot, for the life of me, edit my own work. I find this to be unfair, and truly would not have believed it if I had not witnessed it for myself. I sent the manuscript for my last book to have it edited by the oh-so-brilliant Laurie E. Boris.  I had read it over, more than once, and was quite sure she was not going to have to do much work at all.....WRONG.  Boy, was I wrong.  I was astounded at the grammar mistakes I made that I never caught. Not huge errors, but pissy little errors, lot and lots of pissy little errors. I was humiliated until Laurie informed me that this was normal. People generally can't spot errors in their own work. They have read and re-read it so many times that their minds basically skip errors that they would otherwise catch. So the moral of this story, my dear children, is invest in a good editor, or at the very least, a fresh pair of eyes. They are truly worth their weight in gold.


  1. The proper use of whom frightens me. I avoid it as much as I can. I fear using the word. I am mystified, stupefied, and mortified of whom I might offend.Or is it who? I could use consoling, advice, and tutoring. The question is by whom, or is it who? Help!

  2. Oh this is too funny. I can relate to the restaurant situation, but I wouldn't have the guts to go the daily special board in a restaurant and change the spelling. I might tell someone, but I couldn't do it myself. You've got nerve, girl. Oh my god, the tattoo, I would kill the tattoo artist for not knowing how to spell and like you, I'd cut off my arm too. IF I get another tattoo, I will not get one that has words in it. Good post Donna.

  3. LOL..I couldn't care less if people ever use the word "whom". It's the people who use it and use it incorrectly that I have a problem with

    1. I would like to be one of those people who could use the word correctly. :(

    2. It's not that difficult. He/She = Who Him/Her = Whom.
      For instance: To Whom it may concern
      This concerns HIM.