by Nick Newert
March 4th is National Grammar Day. March 4th is also my birthday. I know that there has to be some sort of joke to be made about a copy editor’s birthday falling on National Grammar Day, but I’m not going to make it, because, frankly, enough of you make enough of a joke of grammar as it is.
Commas not being used, semi-colons being over-used(almost always incorrectly, I might add), the never ending parade of ellipses(After a while, it doesn’t make you sound mysterious, merely slow-witted), and people who feel that one exclamation point doesn’t punctuate a thought well enough, so they use three.
Now, some might argue that I’m merely being a rigid, unfeeling monster whose adherence to grammar rules and convention stifle creativity. That’s not entirely true, though. I mean, it’s certainly not completely false, but it’s also not entirely true. Just, y’know, mostly.
To be fair, I don’t expect everyone to keep the entirety of the rules of grammar for the English language memorized. Hell, as I’m sure this article will prove at one point or another, I certainly don’t have perfect recall of grammar rules. And really, a lot of English grammar is open to personal preference.
As an example, take the Oxford comma, also known as the Harvard comma, serial comma, and the Chicago comma. For those who are unfamiliar with the names, it’s the comma used immediately before a coordinating conjunction like and or or right before the last item in a list of three or more items. Some people use it, some people don’t. The Associate Press Stylebook actually advises against it in journalistic writing. I, personally, greatly prefer the serial comma. That is why, for the sake of in-house consistency, you’ll find that all Eat Your Serial stories have followed the Oxford comma rule. Really, it’s just another example of my ruling Eat Your Serial’s grammar with an iron fist.
Now, I try not to hold other people to grammar rules when it comes to social media like Facebook or Twitter. I try to use them myself, but I don’t expect others to. They’re informal settings with a limit on the number of characters that you can use, so I’ll go easy on you, then.
There is one thing I will demand of you in all forms of communication, though: get its and it’s right. Are you looking to use the contracted form of “it is”? Then use “it’s”. Any other time, use “its”. I will be watching, and I will correct you.