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7XMOM: It’s a burden being a stickler for grammar

7XMOM: It’s a burden being a stickler for grammar

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Just have some sympathy for me. It’s a burden being a person who cares about grammar, punctuation and pronunciation. I guess we are known as “English people” — those strange folks who care about commas and sigh about semi-colons used incorrectly.

I was at a fast-food place for lunch today, however, and overheard a couple of mothers with small children talking about proper nouns, so maybe the idea is catching on that language is important. After all, we all use it, so shouldn’t we use it correctly? It certainly seems obvious to a couple of mothers and me munching on chicken nuggets.

A few years ago I did a story about teenagers over-using the word “like.” My own teenagers and their friends were driving me crazy with it.

Me: “What did you do in school today?”

Them: “It was, like, boring. The teacher was like, ‘It’s Friday. Let’s watch, like, a movie.’ And we were like, ‘Okay, but, like, what kind of movie?”

Do you recall those days? It has gotten a little better, and my kids eventually kind of sort of outgrew it. It took like forever though.

Now it’s a different problem with the grandkids.

Young people now say, “Me and my friends did this or that.”

Really? “Me and my friends.” For those who are still reading this grammatical outrage, the word “me” is used as an indirect or direct object receiving the action, such as in “She gave me a cookie” or “She gave a cookie to me.”

“I” is used as the subject of the sentence, such as “I got a cookie from her.” No one except Cookie Monster would ever say “Me got a cookie from her.”

A couple of my older grandkids say “Me and somebody” all the time. I was in a car with some of them recently with my son driving when one of my granddaughters said, “Me and my friends played this game.”

My son said to her, “You realize of course you are going to get corrected in the next 10 seconds.”

I actually did it faster and said, “My friends and I played this game.” I then launched into the explanation I offered above.

“Well,” she said. “Me and my friends don’t talk like that.”

And then the pronunciation of a “t” or “d” or even an “nt” in the middle of words has digressed as civilization has supposedly progressed. Listen to any newscaster and you’ll hear it.

Instead of “mountain,” the word is now pronounced “mou-un.” A local weather forecaster consistently talks about the weather in “Mar-unsville.” A national reporter who was reporting on the meeting recently between Biden and Putin, you guessed it, talked about “Bi-un” talking to “Pu-un.”

Once you notice it, you’re doomed to be annoyed.

And have you noticed with all this talk about infrastructure that most of the news people totally ignore the first “r” in “infrastructure” and make it “infrastructure?” Then one of the news people I watched just took a trip on a boat to Anartica. No, no, no, she went to AntarCtica.

I know some think it’s silly to care so much about language. I really do look at people’s hearts and try to love them wherever they are in life and grammar.

I’m sure I’ll get at least one email saying I’m shallow and critical and probably complaining about the infRastructure bill, but as I said in the beginning, it’s a tough burden to worry about such things.

It does give me an advantage when asking my kids questions about technology and remote controls. I always add that I’m smart enough to know the difference between a Petrarchan and Elizabethan sonnet and the three uses of a semicolon. So far no one has asked me to explain.

At the very least, I wish young people would punctuate their texts with capital letters, periods and the well-placed commas.

One son said he is always conscious of his punctuation in texts to me. I told him not to worry, but on the inside I was cheering.

As my granddaughter would say, however, “Me and my friends don’t do that with texts.”

What is this world coming to? (Whoops. Try never to use a preposition at the end of a se-unce.)

Elzey is a freelance writer with the Register & Bee. Email her at or call her at 434-791-7991 and she will answer your questions about sonnets and semicolons.


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