Monday, January 19, 2015

Grammar

I took one of those 'quizzes' on Facebook a few days ago; the topic was grammar. There were fifteen questions, each asking the participant to select the correct sentence or phrase from a choice of three. My score: 13 of 15 correct. Not bad.

However, shouldn't a 'writer' score higher? Truth be told, I regularly question my grammar proficiency. Writing a blog such as this is a hobby but I write commercials for a living. Blogs have no rules and my style, described by an old writer friend as 'breezy', is suitable for blogging. Some commercials provide evidence that good grammar is not required for them either.


One grammatical pet leave of mine involves the words fewer and less. I regularly hear incorrect usage of 'less' in conversation and in commercials. I heard a commercial this morning with the line, "and that means less cavities."  Incorrect!  It should read "fewer cavities."  I am also annoyed by the regular misuse of their, there and they're.


The sad truth about bad grammar is that these incorrect words and phrases get used so much that they are eventually accepted as correct.


I wish the grammar quiz I took revealed which two questions I answered incorrectly.


I am no grammar expert but I do believe in clarity when it comes to writing, especially in memos and instructions. I think clarity is important in commercials too. Every time I hear the local casino ad that ends with "must be 21," I ask my radio, "what if I'm 50?"  I know they mean "must be over 21" but that's not what they said. So if I'm not 21 (because I'm 50, which is not 21), then I can't go there, right?


Is anyone still wondering why immigrants have so much trouble learning English?

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