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Confessions of an Author: Grammar

Posted by Katie L. Carroll on October 23, 2012 in Confessions of an Author, Language, Writing |

Confession #1: I don’t always use proper grammar.

When someone asks me how I’m doing, I’m just as likely to say “I’m good” as “I’m well.” Saying “I’m well” sounds funny, and frankly, a bit pretentious. I don’t need to flaunt the fact that I know the grammatical way to answer the question is “I’m well.” I’m an author, not a snob. Besides, my brain’s default answer is “I’m good” and idle chitchat hardly warrants more than a default answer.

There are lots of other instances when I don’t speak proper grammar as well. In fact, I probably speak improperly as often as I do properly. It takes way too long to formulate a well-constructed sentence; if I had to speak grammatically correct all the time, I’d never end up contributing to the conversation.

I also text/tweet (okay, I don’t actually tweet, but if I did…)/post on Facebook/casually e-mail with incorrect grammar and even crazy text speak. (Don’t all gasp at once!)

Why don’t I use proper grammar? You might think it’s because I don’t want to intimidate others with my superior grammar knowledge. The truth is just because I’m an author (and admittedly an editor), doesn’t mean I even know proper grammar.   “Who” or “whom,” “lying” or “laying.” I don’t know! And when I do need to know, I look it up.

Not to mention the fact that if I did keep my grammarian hat on all the time, I’d probably go crazy. Have you seen some of the terrible grammar there is out there in the world? It’s astonishing!

So the next time you are talking to an author or reading a nonprofessional e-mail from an author friend of yours, don’t assume everything they offer will be grammatically perfect. Authors are people too, and we can’t be expected to always know the grammatically correct thing to say (or write). That’s what we have editors for!

Author-extraordinaire Katie L. Carroll has been disproving (and sometimes confirming) the myths of legends of being an author since 2012.

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13 Comments

  • LOL, this reminds me of me and my dad when I was in high school:

    Dad: Who is it?
    Me: It’s me.
    Dad: It’s “It’s I.” The verb to be doesn’t take an object.
    Me: I know, but nobody says that.
    Dad: You don’t know, or you wouldn’t say it. (repeats rules on pronoun use, including explanation of why IT’S ME is wrong)
    Me: {grinds teeth}

    No surprise, then, that I’m more likely than not to use proper grammar even when speaking.

  • Hi Katie,
    I try to use proper grammar most of the time, but there are some usages that I think need to be changed because they are so common, such as, the use of “like” for “as if.” Since English doesn’t have an Academy, changes have to seep into the language over time.

    • Hah! Maybe we should set up an Academy ourselves. I’d like to have a say in what constitutes proper grammar…that way I can always be right, and if I’m not, I’ll change the rule!

  • Joelle Walker says:

    I’m good here, too! But sometimes I feel as though I’m suffering from multiple personality disorder… I’ll be having an otherwise normal social conversation when this internal dialogue kicks in: “OMG. Did she just say that? Tell me she didn’t just say THAT!” [audible eyeroll] “I’m quite certain she did. Yes, yes, in fact, she did,” gaze averted, nose elevated, Mrs. Humphries states in her best summa cum laude, southwestern-state-third-year, [too many hyphens? commas?] debate coach, champion voice. (Sponsored by my sophomore College Preparatory English class) Is everyone staring at me?

    • Yes, I know exactly what you mean. I really have tried to move in a more lax direction when it comes to my own personal grammar, but sometimes it’s so hard to give yourself a break when you know you’ve screwed up.

  • Meradeth says:

    I’m sooo going to show this to hubby! I am particularly pathetic about using “proper” grammar all the time–though occasionally I do make the effort, but the rest of the time I don’t want to sound even more weird than I already do 🙂

    • Joelle Walker says:

      Speaking of “sounding” weird… I recall as if it were yesterday, riding along with my cousin/BFF, who since gradeschool I had corrected her grammar unmercifully (Hey! Doesn’t everyone WANT to speak correct English? Appreciate a bit of guidance?)at which time, we were discussing a real estate proposal:
      Me [Realtor]: Of course, all it really amounts to is choosing a lender and providing your financial statement. Then, we’ll show him the appraised value on the property. You borrow the money and that’s all there is to it.
      Cousin/BFF: What’d you say?
      Me [Realtor]: I said all you have to do is–
      Cousin/BFF: No. No, you said…”barr-ee the money”
      Me [Realtor]: What?! Did not!
      Did too! Did not! Did too!
      DID
      I have been an OK/TX residential and commercial Realtor, both an agent and a broker most of life…a cringe-worthy memory and a difficult habit to break!

    • Admittedly, I give the hubby a hard time when he speaks incorrectly…all in good fun. But when he catches me in a grammar blunder…oh boy, he really has a field day with it!

  • Mirka Breen says:

    Oh, sister-in-challenge Katie! I’m so there with you.
    A fabulous grammarian & speller is what some writers are and all editors must be. Bet you can tell a story, though!

    • Well, I suppose that is the most important thing when it comes to being an author, being able to tell a story. If I’ve got the story, I can sort out the grammar faux pas later.

  • I’ve become more and more of a grammar stickler when it comes to writing and teaching, but when I’m talking with friends, all the rules go out the window. 🙂

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