To verify whether I was using a semicolon correctly, I Googled Strunk and White’s “Elements of Style” yesterday.

Here are some things that Googling revealed:

0) Despite spending years in the same room as “Elements of Style,” I apparently had never bothered to actually read the thing.

1) You can forget grammar.

2) You can forget grammar so hard that you correct others with your willful wrongness.

3) “In a series of three or more terms with a single conjunction, use a comma after each term except the last.” Like this, that, and this. WHAT WHAT WHAT WHAT? WHAT?

I used to be a writing tutor! I trained! I took tests! I trained others! I administered tests! And now my brain is full of a half-gallon of WRONG. How did this happen? I use English. I’m smrt. I write. I read. What the fri-i-i-i-ick?

It’s like I went to pancake cooking school, and studied the finest chefs and their techniques and ingredients, and at one time made the most correct and sciencey pancakes possible. Then ten years later I am making pancakes out of poo, and thinking they are correct and sciencey, and I am looking over the shoulder of other pancake-makers and saying, “Excuse me but I believe you need more poo.”

HOW DID I FORGET ALL THIS STUFF? An excuse — I do not have it.

I need to read more books. I need this book to be the first one.

In related news, here is a helpful grammar email from my Colonel Hoke this morning:

Adjectives that should not be put into comparison ….in other words, you don’t say “more unique,” “most fatal,” etc.

Dad knew about “perfect” and “unique” but not the rest.

absolute impossible principal adequate
inevitable stationary chief irrevocable
sufficient complete main unanimous
devoid manifest unavoidable entire minor
unbroken fatal paramount unique final perpetual
universal ideal preferable whole


Draws. Sweats. Eats too much sugar-free candy.

You may also like...

4 Responses

  1. Frequent Reader Carol says:

    I really liked “How Not to Write: An Office Primer for the Gramatically Perplexed” by Terence Denman, which I ran across at the library. I think it has sensible guidelines, but mainly it’s fun to read!

  2. Lance says:

    Google up some criticism of Strunk & White — it isn’t hard to find. The reverence people have for the book probably has more to do with us all having to buy a copy in 9th grade than with it always being right. You may not be as wrong as you think.

  3. Your Anomalous Fan says:

    “ten years later I am making pancakes out of poo”

    I want that on my tombstone.

%d bloggers like this: