Grammar, Spelling, and the proper usage of the English language. You can’t get away from it. Especially if you’re a writer. It’s always lurking over your shoulder. Reminds you of that English teacher you had in middle school looking over her glasses while you’re taking a test. You’re trying to hide that textbook in your lap so she can’t see it open because you should know this stuff, right?

Fortunately for me, I’ve always had a knack for being able to spell. Sound it out is what I learned early on. That, coupled with my love of reading, helped form the basis of my spelling skills.

UNfortunately for me, when it comes to the proper usage of those words, therein lies the challenge for me.

I have to admit there are certain words that still get me. Affect vs. Effect, for instance. Someone cared enough recently to educate me that I had been using these two words improperly. Even now when typing them, I still have to resort to my note-taking in their usage, so ingrained was the improper tool I’ve been following all these years. You know, those little sayings you use when learning to make it easier to remember facts. The old tried and true for history: Columbus Sailed the Ocean Blue in fourteen hundred and ninety-two. Then you have the easy ones for English: Nouns – a person, place or thing; and my all-time favorite from Saturday morning cartoons – Conjunction, junction, what’s your function?! The rule I had drilled into my brain was an affect causes an effect. Therefore, I thought, isn’t everything an effect? Especially in the type of profession I’m in on my day job (paralegal) everyone is E-ffected by the A-ffecters. (By the way, you don’t want to be an A-ffecter – those are the ones that get sued.)

I have also found a couple of good websites you should check out. They are not all-encompassing but I have bookmarked more info from these sites than anything else I’ve come across in blogs or elsewhere. They are: Daily Writing Tips and The BookShelf Muse. The latter website has a wonderful thesaurus for writers. Just awesome.

The English language. It fascinates me. Don’t you love the people who make their own words. Take for instance one of my close friends. She always, ALWAYS no matter how many times she’s been corrected, still says the word tooken. Arghhh, yes, I have to admit, it’s like nails on that proverbial chalkboard. She knows she’s wrong but still is not going to change. She’s not alone, I’ve heard other people use it. I suppose this is how, eventually, new words take hold in society and become common. (Somehow I don’t believe “tooken” will ever make it.) You never know, though, what will become common and normal to use. Just in 2011, “Retweet” and “Woot” made it into Oxford’s Dictionary. What word do you think will be next?

This is the best of times in learning and understanding the language. Thanks go not just to computers but to the e-readers. One day you’re going to look back and wonder how did people function without them. I have a really great friend who has an extensive vocabulary. He’s sent me to the Merriam-Webster site several times to look up a word he used. I love that – learning the meaning of words. There are times when I knew the word but just {gasp} didn’t know how to spell it. A recent find: egregiousness. What a cool word. Getting back on the subject with the e-readers, there is no word that can be viewed on that device which you won’t be able to understand it’s meaning. You can highlight it and have the definition of it appear right there in front of you. Pretty sure all textbooks will one day be on an e-reader. Going to put the backpack industry out of business and save on a lot of chiropractic care.

I am glad I’m a writer and can leave it to the professionals to catch all my mistakes. I feel bad for them. You can’t, no matter how hard you try, be it your profession or not, catch them all. I’m not just talking books written by indie authors, where they must rely upon themselves or hire someone to proofread, I’m talking about the ones who even have publishers. I just finished a book by a published author. I found two typos in the book. I loved the book but still remember the typos. They were blatant and shouldn’t have been missed. It goes to show – no matter how big you are, some are going to slip through.

I’m really blessed to have someone who I can trust to be both an Editor and Proofreader who is proficient in spelling, grammar and the usage of the English language. Between the two of us I’m really hoping we can catch all of them. I didn’t get him to proof this blog – I’m sure if I made an error I’ll be hearing about it from someone. I hope I do. Never be afraid or embarrassed to learn. That is certainly a kiss of death to your writing.

If you liked this blog, I welcome you to become a subscriber. Also, visit R. S. Guthrie’s blog. You’ll find tons of advice, humor, and guest blogs, all dealing with writing skills and the usage of the written word.

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6 Responses to I THINK I GOT IT WRITE

  1. I enjoyed this last post. I also worry about writing mistakes, but then I think to myself that perhaps it’s the content that is most important, and the small mistakes won’t matter that much. I do have an English professor friend I refer my questions to should I have any concerns. “Don’t sweat the small stuff” could apply here, although ask an English teacher and I’m sure she will disagree.

  2. Sure wish I had such a friend as Cindi’s. But enjoyed this salute to our never-ending challenge. I don’t know whether I never learned it or have just forgotten it, but I embarrass myself on a regular basis! Thank god for editors. And thank you for a fun read.

  3. A fresh pair of eyes is never a bed idea, even if you’re an English major. By the way, how did you get a picture of my Grade 5 English teacher!?

  4. Great blog. You’re right, it’s so easy to miss errors. I love the tips on how to remember the grammar rules.

  5. Missy Frye says:

    My critique partner is an English teacher. She comes in pretty handy.

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