National Grammar Day!
Some of you may know that yesterday, March 4th, was National Grammar Day — a day dedicated to speaking well, writing well, and being generally grammar conscience. For those of us in book publishing, National Grammar Day is everyday – no exceptions. Seriously, I find myself thinking about grammar so much throughout the course of the day that I often over-think even the most basic grammatical situations and end up confusing myself. However, it’s nice to know that there’s a day dedicated to making sure the rest of the world is taking grammar as seriously as we do. It’s a day to say to people, “You may think you know English but you don’t!” or, “You think you understand comma splices and hyphens? Well, guess what? You don’t!” Even if March 4th is just a day to remember not to say “aint,” it still begs us to take a minute to reflect on the complex system that is the English language and how we interpret it.
Even as a person whose brain-space is taken up with grammar for 90% of my day, I still make common grammar mistakes. For example, I still often have to think twice about ‘effect’ vs. ‘affect’ and I have a tendency to use the word ‘literally’ a tad liberally (although there’s a fun article about this on Galleycat today). Whether it’s further vs. farther, lay vs. lie, or drunk vs. drank, there are always those little grammar mistakes that I’m sure all of us are guilty of having made at one time or another – and let’s not even talk about punctuation. Are you aware that there are no less than three types of dashes and that each one has a unique purpose? Granted that unless you’re a writer, editor, or someone who prepares press material for a living there’s hardly ever any reason to dwell on these grammatical nuances in the day-to-day.
Luckily, if you’re the type of person who is concerned with this kind of thing, help is available and you can become the kind of person who uses correct grammar everyday, not just on March 4th. Consider a grammar book, like our very own Beaufort Book The Big Ten of Grammar by William B. Bradshaw, PhD which is subtitled Identifying and Fixing the Ten Most Frequent Grammatical Errors. In this book, Dr. Bradshaw discusses the ten most frequent grammatical errors and how we can learn to a) be conscious of them and b) correct them. It’s basically a condensed version of all the chapters in the Chicago Manual that I flip to at least once a day which is really handy because Dr. Bradshaw’s book is small and light enough to bring around with me or stash in my desk and the Table of Contents makes it really easy to find what I’m looking for quickly.
What are your favorite grammar/style books? I’d love to know about any other resources you guys use to keep your grammar in check. Do you find grammar important, and if so, to what degree? What about this debate over the Oxford comma? How could one little punctuation mark have caused so much controversy? Well, whether you’re the type of person who cares about this kind of thing or not, Happy National Grammar Day! Because everyone needs an excuse to celebrate a random day in March….