More of Mary’s Grammar Gripes

School is finally in session for everybody, so I’ve been inspired to inflict upon you another one of my grammar teacher wannabe lessons. These pointers come not from formal education as a teacher,, but from observations I’ve made while listening to conversations and ads and reports on TV. It’s getting to the point where if I hear the correct use of the pronoun “me,” I want to write in and say “good job. You paid attention in eighth grade English class.”

Here are some phrases that have set my teeth on edge over the past month.

“I remember him saying….” In this phrase, the object of the verb is “him,” but it should be “his saying,” with “saying” being the object, and “his” being the modifier.” This mistake often shows up with “I appreciate you participating.” It should be “your participating,” because it’s not that I appreciate you, but I appreciate that you participated. So again, the object of that sentence is “participating,” and”your” is the modifier. It’s just as easy to say “your” as “you,” so even saving time is a poor excuse for incorrect grammar here.

This next one is a personal peeve, and I might even be completely wrong about it, but it bothers me, and this is my blog, so here it is. Shouldn’t the past tense of “text “be “texted?” So many people say “text” as if that were the past tense of “text,” which of course is wrong. I just checked with Alexa, and she agrees with me. *****

Here’s one that we often addressed in Toastmasters. A book is not “entitled.” It might sound more sophisticated to you, but it’s wrong. You are “entitled” to your own opinion, or you have ownership, but a book is “titled.” that is, it has a “title.”

I had a sort of argument about this one with a friend, only because he thinks that rule has changed. It’s about “fewer” and “less.” If a quantity can be counted, it’s “fewer than,” not “less than.” e.g. “If we have fewer than 5 people present, we can’t take a vote.” Please don’t say “If we have less than 5 people present….” If the quantity can be measured but not counted, you can say, “If you have less sugar in the batter than the recipe calls for….”

Here’s the last one I’ll pester you with today. It has to do with subject verb agreement. Say “Neither of us has a college degree,” not “Neither of us have a college degree.” Remember that “us” is not the subject. (Us can never be the subject.) So it does not require a verb that agrees with a plural subject. The subject in that sentence is “neither,” which is a singular subject. Thus the bare bones of that sentence looks like this. “Neither has degree” —subject, verb, object. On the other hand, if you are saying something about both of us, you should say “Both of us have a college degree,” because both is a plural noun, and “have” goes with the plural noun.

When I put this page through spell check, it practically went crazy. I hope it didn’t make corrections where I didn’t want it to.

Oh darn. I’m almost to the end of the page, so it’s time for me to quit for today, and I was having so much fun. But never fear. I always have an ear out for grammar goofs. Do you have one you’d like to share? Bring it on.

Mary Hiland

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

Available at


How I Met Kevin Bacon

About 200 people, many of them with their dogs, participated in a very warm and humid 5K race/walk for Friends of the Shelter last Saturday. My friend, Dan, and Dora and I were among them. As you can imagine, Dora really strutted her stuff as we passed many of the slower walkers. And I’m very pleased to say that after being mostly sedentary this summer following my spinal fusion, we walked the 3.1 miles in an hour. Our official time was a little longer than that, because we stopped twice for water and once to meet a pet pig named Kevin Bacon. I had petted pigs at the State Fair, but never had I met one on a fund-raiser walk. He was a very placid fellow, and his human was quite willing to answer all our questions. Kevin was a rescue. Who woulda thunk?

My thanks to Dan for sponsoring me and for accompanying Dora and me on the walk. Get ready Dan. Our victory in completing that walk has only whetted our appetite for more walks around town.

Mary Hiland

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

Available at

Summer Rain Soothes the Soul

Listening to the rain has always brought peace to my soul. Fond memories of being a kid, lying on the feather bed at my grandmother’s house and listening to the patter of the big fat rain drops on her roof linger, even now, so many decades later. Whenever lightening strikes close to where I am, my memory immediately takes me back to a summer afternoon at my grandma’s. We all were crowded around the front screen door, watching the show in the sky and trying not to act scared out of our wits when the thunder cracked suddenly, seemingly right in the front yard. In truth, that afternoon, it actually did. The old oak tree in the front yard was scarred by the lightening, and the car in the driveway was lifted right off the ground. no damage to the house was done, but the rest of the storms that summer weren’t quite as fun. That day, we learned that lightening could be dangerous and very frightening. No wonder dogs tremble and hide under the bed. God gave them the sense to get to a safe place. The rest of that afternoon and for years to come, we reminisced about the day the lightening struck so close. Even so, a favorite summer pass time was watching a thunder storm from the safety of the front porch, until an especially loud and surprisingly cloase thunder clap sent us squealing into the house. We peered out the windows and were awed by how dark the sky had become, as if it were midnight.. Then when the storm moved on, and the darkness lifted, we rolled up our pants and ran out to the street for a special game reserved for downpours in the city. Memories of playing with home made paper boats in the gutters in front of my own house are treasures. Even city kids could enjoy the wonders of nature.

Today, when it “rains right down,” as my family used to say, I forget about the air conditioning, and open the front door. I love to hear the rain as it pommels the earth. I call Dora over to the door to enjoy the smell of the rain, but she is not impressed. She correctly guesses that there will be no game of fetch out in the yard today, so she ambles over to her favorite place to nap while I write. Thanks for letting me share a memory or two with you. I’d love to hear your memories of summer rain.

Mary Hiland

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

Available at

A Poem I Understand

Poetry is not my thing, because most of the time, I don’t get it. But I just had to share one that was recently posted on a list called Behind Our Eyes. Here’s what I wrote to the author.

This was one of the most thoughtful and relevant poems I have read in a long time. It’s sad to think of the inconsiderate and waistful ways we have used up God’s creation without thought of preserving its beauty and life.

My apologies to Leonard for removing the blank lines, but I needed to try to make it fit in a smaller space. My apology to you the reader for making it 2 pages, but I hope you read all the way to the end, because I think that’s the best part. What do you think?

Legacy, by Leonard Tuchyner

I am a space time wanderer,

looking for a place to dwell —

a land of prairie grasses —

verdant, shadowed woodlands —

rushing, tumbling crystal streams

flowing to ponds and lakes,

abounding with fish and fowl,

living oceans vast as skies,

that twinkle with firmament

in dark of sacred nights,

and rains to wash all anew.

“Go, my son,” my father said.

“Travel where my time is done,

and take this land in times to come.

The future belongs to you alone.”

In gratitude and expectation,

I mounted my waiting flying steed,

who carried me through passing years,

swiftly on his timeless wings;

so quickly I could not perceive

the landscapes changing under me.

When the sweeping Sun and stars

cease their pinwheel streaking swirl,

I look down upon a wasted world,

where forests once stood, a burned-out grit

festooned with stunted plants and bugs —

prairies silent of beating hooves —

deserts sweltering in heat of night —

wormed-out mountains of barren rock —

streams and lakes, long now, oily dead —

oceans reek with the smell of death,

in embrace of a torrid wind.

I scream out to the sickened land,

“What, in God’s name, has happened to you?”

And Earth answers in gasping breath,

“Your father took faster than I could give.”

Mary Hiland

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

Available at

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

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

Available at

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

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

Mary Hiland

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

Available at

The Uphill Struggle to get my Book Recorded for People Who Are Blind

Making a book accessible for people who are blind is not as easy as you might think. Just call your State Library for the Blind and ask them to record it. Were it that easy, my book, The Bumpy road to Assisted Living a Daughter’s Memoir” would have been available on talking books months ago when I started my campaign for the talking book library to accept it. The director of the Ohio branch enumerated some reasons why they rejected it, and each one was actually a good reason why they should record it and add it to their collection. Rather than write both the objections and my responses, I’ll just summarize my comments, which should reflect the objections. I said in my response, “Yes, my book has been published. Yes, it is self-published, but there are many books on the talking book list that are self-published. Print copies are available through Amazon, and I would be happy to send you one for review. However, the book is available in the Columbus public library system. Several very complimentary reviews have been published for this book, and I even received an email letter from a woman who said my book has changed her life. My book has relevance to over 73 million baby-boomers, in this country alone, who are dealing with elderly parents, experiencing dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. While there are several books available on a similar subject, none is exactly like mine. It is obviously written by a blind person, and I know that the Library for the Blind favors books written by people who are blind. It is important to learn how other blind people handle situations such as the ones I describe in my book.

Please note that having it recorded for the talking book library results in absolutely no profit for me. My well-meaning editor has remarked several times that I will make no money from making it available in the library system. I am well aware of that, but it is important to me that my blind friends and indeed blind people everywhere have an equal chance to read what I have been told is a very insightful, touching, humorous, and informative book.

Since the answer still seems to be no, a friend suggested that I try to find funding to have it recorded by Audible. The price for doing so is prohibitive for me, but perhaps enough people will understand the importance of having this kind of information available to everyone, sighted or blind, and would be willing to support a “gofundme” appeal on line.. I’d like to know your opinion before I proceed with researching the price and the process. If your response is a positive one, I’ll get busy and learn what the cost will be and how gofundme works. Thanks in advance for your comments.

Mary Hiland

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

Available at