The Grammar Snob in Me

When someone would ask me , “Who was the teacher who influenced you the most,” I would always say Mrs. Gilpin who taught eighth grade English. I especially loved diagramming sentences. You probably hated it. Most kids did, but I really bought into it. It made so much sense to me to draw those horizontal and vertical lines to make each word of the sentence fit into its own rightful place with its own label. and then there were those diagonal lines for modifiers, such as adverbs, and then those complicated lines with prepositional phrases that were connected to other prepositional phrases. Are you going “Arg.” Well, to each his own, but those lines and names for words such as subject and object have served me well. They have also turned me into a grammar snob. And I’m not talking about the old example of “Winstons taste good like a cigarette should.” “As a cigarette should” just doesn’t appeal to people who smoke. No, I’m talking about the grammatical errors not only in everyday speech, but in books I’ve read and on TV advertisements. Here are some examples in order of disgust.

I once made a whole speech in Toastmasters called “It’s all about me.” People seem to be afraid to use the word “me,” so they use “I” or “myself” incorrectly, all the time, and it gets on my last nerve. Example: If you have any questions, just ask Mark or I.” No. It’s “just ask Mark or me.” I is always the subject and never the object of a sentence. Another example: She gave a beautiful plant to Alan and I.” “I” should never be the object of a preposition, such as “to” in that sentence. In other words, try taking the other person out of the picture, and see how it sounds. “She gave a beautiful plant to I” I don’t think so. ? One more example: “It’s exciting for people like myself.” “Myself” is a reflexive pronoun. Only use it when you are saying something like “I embarrassed myself.” OK. Enough of that.

Next, even a Toastmaster friend of mine has trouble with the difference between “lay” and “lie.” “Lay” takes an object, such as “I am going to lay this book on the table.” Remember how chickens “lay eggs.” They don’t “lie” eggs.” On the other hand, it’s correct to say, “I’m going to lie down,” not “lay down.” If you “lay,” you must have an object, such as a book, or if you insis on saying “lay,” say “I’m going to lay my body down.” Sound a little stilted? Just say “I’m going to lie down.” I even try not to tell my dog to “Lay down.” It’s not that I’m teaching her good grammar, but to keep in practice myself. See? There’s the right use of “myself.”

Here’s a funny one. People don’t like to say the words “dragged” or “hanged.” Examples: I have to drag out the garbage to the curb, and I have dragged out old carpets too, not drug. And “I hung the pictures on the wall,” but “he was hanged for his crime, not hung.” Isn’t this fun? People think that drunk only describes one who has had too much to drink, but it is actually the past participle of drink, as in “I have drunk all my water,” not “drank all my water.” And how about this one? Ever heard somebody say I have ran all day.” Oh please. Spare me. Maybe you can think of some that set your teeth on edge too.

When I was in Toastmasters, I was often the Grammarian, a real role in the meeting’s agenda. When it was announced that I would be the Grammarian that night, everyone would groan. Now you know why.

Mary Hiland

Mary.hiland@wowway.com

www.seeingitmyway.com

Author of “The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living A Daughter’s Memoir”

Available at Amazon.com

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Victory in the world of Talking books, almost

At last, someone at the National Library Service for the Blind has seen the light and has started the process of recording my book. Finally, my friends who are blind and any blind person wanting to read this book, “The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living A Daughter’s Memoir” will be able to borrow it in talking book form. It has also been sent to a service called BookShare, but I haven’t been able to find out yet if it’s available for consumers. Naturally, I’d like to sell more copies, but at this point, I’m more interested in making it accessible for everyone to read.

My book will be read by Jill Ferris, a talking book narrator who has recorded hundreds of books, and the order number will be 91261. It’s not there yet, but I keep checking, so I can shout it to the world when I find it.

Meanwhile, I’ve started my second book. It’s another memoir called “Insight Out, How a Blind Woman Sees her Life.” My thanks to my friends Ashlee and Anna who came up with the second half of the title. Each chapter describes a different facet of my life, all the activities and pursuits that have given me a rich and fulfilling life in spite of blindness. But don’t expect all sweetness and light. It hasn’t all been a picnic, but on the other hand, be assured that I don’t describe in detail the parts that aren’t so happy. While my first book was mostly about my mother’s journey to assisted living and her adjustment there, along with my frustrations and what I learned along the way, this next book is all about me. Well not exactly just about me, but how I have fit into this sighted world. I’ve finished several chapters, and I’ve invited friends to be my alpha readers before I send it to my editor, Leonore Dvorken of dldbooks. You can order my book from

dldbooks.com/maryhiland

or if you want a Kindle version or a print copy without shipping costs, you can find it on Amazon. Stay tuned.

Mary Hiland

Mary.hiland@wowway.com

www.seeingitmyway.com

Author of “The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living A Daughter’s Memoir”

Available at Amazon.com