There's an old joke about a haughty, proper British schoolmarm who goes to pay a visit to a friend. The friend's young boy answers the door. "I would like to speak to your mother," she states. "She ain't here," the boy replies. Taken aback by his poor form, the lady responds, "Young man, where is your grammar?" To which the boy says, "She's in the kitchen."
Those who know me best know that I have exceedingly high standards for grammar and proper word usage. Not to say I've never made a mistake, but I'm quite knowledgeable about the basics. I never confuse "their," "they're," or "there." Same with "your" and "you're." I know when to use an apostrophe (although I am a little fuzzy on the whole plural abbreviation thing, like "CD's" or CDs"). I know always to put my quotation marks on the outside of my punctuation. I know never to split an infinitive... or is that to never split an infinitive... nah, I was right the first time.
So when I see comments like this on a teacher's forum discussing internet grammar:
Hi everyone. I have used Internet Lingo in the past. It didn't affect the grammar used for my schoolwork. Although, I stopped in fear that it would. I am the student assistant of a Language Arts teacher, and have noticed student's accidentally using Internet lingo in their schoolwork. That's why I believe people should try to always speak and write correctly.Newbie
That's torture to read. GAH!!! There should be no comma after "although," the apostrophe in "student's" is incorrectly used, and "to always speak" is a split infinitive. This is the work of a student assistant to the Language Arts teacher... scary to think he or she was presumably the brightest student in the class.
My education is limited to my high school diploma and a single year of Bible college. Yet in that time I managed to pick up better usage of the English language than most of my peers in any sphere of my life. My high school used the A.C.E. curriculum which had an excellent self-paced course in English. Having had a long-standing love of writing, I soaked it up and found immediate application for most of what I learned.
Then in college they had a basic English course required for all freshmen, which I aced (no pun intended!). The reason they had this requirement, and I've since learned that most post-secondary schools have it too, is that most new students simply cannot string 500 words together with any coherence.
Some people might say, "Y duz it mater?" To them I reply, "I beg your pardon? I didn't quite get that."
So for those of you needing help with your grammar and word usage, whether it be online, personal, or professional, I encourage you to find a site like GrammarNOW! or the English Grammar Book to make your writing more intelligent.
I'll close with this hilarious witticism from Winston Churchill:
After receiving a Minute issued by a priggish civil servant, objecting to the ending of a sentence with a preposition and the use of a dangling participle in official documents, Churchill red pencilled in the margin: "This is the sort of pedantry up with which I will not put."