I have always been a fan of the English language and make every effort to write with good grammar, spelling and punctuation – the glorious trifecta. I dislike bad grammar (I now avoid using the term “grammar nazi” ever since an old friend found it ridiculous, possibly offensive and mildly self-deprecating) and have made a habit of pointing out every grammar mistake I see. Daniel has made me excited about “Weird Al” Yankovic’s upcoming song Word Crimes, which is a grammar-related parody of Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines. Weird Al has just reached hero status in my book.
Unfortunately it is not very good to get caught up in your own bad habits, and pointing out grammatical mistakes can often be more of a bad habit than a good one. We’re now blessed with spelling and grammar checkers, at least digitally, so there may often be no excuse to make a mistake. I have also been extremely embarrassed when I am incorrect about grammar, for instance, I recently pointed out to a workmate that I believed the correct spelling was quarternary and not quaternary. Of course, I bite my tongue. I am fully ashamed for anything I have written where I have made a mistake, and will acknowledge it by correction.
As I am quite pedantic about my writing’s quality, there comes a point where mistakes become amusing. When I deliberately write in LOLspeak or chatspeak, it is usually to emphasise excitement or show sarcasm, such as “whatcha doin lel”, or “MAGAW HEY GERONIMO R ON TEH STAGE RITE NAO”. Of course, keyboard spam usually fits under this category, “dfugjdfkgd this code is pissing me offsfdss”.
This is where my original, occasionally used Twitter hashtag #jointwounrelatedclauses comes in. I have been known to ramble a lot, and go off on tangents and say random things. One person said it as an insult once, telling me, “You say the most… pointless things that make no sense.” Redundancy much?
I digress. Often, there are many things on the mind at once, and if anything, my previous two stream-of-consciousness posts include evidence of the miscellaneous things that may be on my mind at a given time. What “join two unrelated clauses” is, is almost a pun, a play on a semicolon’s use, and a play on grammar, while weaving in a lot of the random, unrelated things I might say in a conversation.
The semicolon (this character, for those of you who don’t know: ;) is often misused. Actually, The Oatmeal has a superb comic explaining how to correctly use semicolons, but in a nutshell, you should use a semicolon when you want to join two independent clauses. An independent clause can sit on its own as a sentence. For example, “The pencil box is full of Polaroid photographs; I add to it daily.” could be written as “The pencil box is full of Polaroid photographs. I add to it daily.”
So basically: avoid semicolons unless you know how to use them; when in doubt just write sentences; don’t be an idiot.
It is a basic rule that you should not join unrelated clauses with a semicolon. So an incorrect example would be, “I like really juicy tomatoes; my shirt has exploding planets on it.” Given that this kind of writing is incorrect, how else would you join two unrelated clauses?
A conjunction. Fantastic. A simple, beautiful, run-of-the-mill conjunction: and.
“I really like juicy tomatoes and my shirt has exploding planets on it.”
There's a spot on the bus floor that looks like a flat tomato and I am coughing up a lung right now. #jointwounrelatedclauses
– Georgie Luhur (@georgiecel) February 14, 2013
The world is amusing and I wish I could drive. #jointwounrelatedclauses
– Georgie Luhur (@georgiecel) September 23, 2012
Finally my Internet decides to work and I'm going to eat candy. #jointwounrelatedclauses
– Georgie Luhur (@georgiecel) October 13, 2012
Obviously something I have only exposed three times on Twitter within the past six years of having a Twitter account. However, I don’t document everything I say, so there’s no doubt I would have said some extremely random things in real life.
Given the power of English, trains of thought and streams of consciousness, why don’t you give me an example of join two unrelated clauses in your comment? :D
I will admit that I am not great at placing the commas in the right spaces. I do need help with this. I usually have Tristan edit my posts before I post them. However, I am “starting” to understand where they go. Someone once tried to insult me by saying “You don’t know where to place the comma’s.” Point taken, and noted. However, at least I will admit to it. But, it was an attempt to insult even though they failed. :)
Haha! I was never much of a “Grammar Nazi” before in my life. Until I met Tristan, who is what you would call a “BOOK NERD” or to put it more simply “NERD”. He actually placed in Math 105, and in English 101 on his placement test. So whenever I want to correct someone’s grammar — I try to do it on my own first. If I don’t know something I ask Tristan for help, before I do something. But I still have problems placing those darn comma’s. Although and I maybe giving this away too…I was told to place a comma where ever it sounded as though there’s a pause. Now that’s true to some extent, but I really don’t want to be sitting there reading my sentences out loud. Haha!
This reminds me of one time when my English teacher told the class to avoid using certain punctuation marks (like brackets for example) unless they knew how to use them. She then proceeded to cite me as an example of someone who was able to use parenthetical remarks effectively, and only because it was part of my personal writing style. Talk about an ego boost XD
Ahhh. I love this post! I have a Bachelor’s in Professional Writing, so I obviously love love love writing. :) I admit, though, my writing abilities have taken a wrong turn. I find myself forgetting simple rules and making stupid mistakes; I should probably take a refresher course.
I have terrible spelling issues but I’m not so bad with grammar. When I’m looking at my own writing I find it difficult to find mistakes (even though there is usually loads), but when I’m reading someone else’s work I find that it is a lot easier to correct.
I cringe when I submit a piece of work for university or work and then realise that I have made a stupidly obvious mistake. At the beginning of the year I put ‘Data’ instead of ‘Date’ in a title for a piece of coursework, so it was completely obvious. I was mortified.
Hm…if you think about it, the first two tweets aren’t really unrelated. :) I don’t know about most people…but whenever I’m coughing up a lung, I usually end up doubled over – thus it’s quite possible to know that there is a spot on the floor that looks like a flat tomato. Also, finding the world amusing and wishing to drive is also related – you’d like to see all the amusing things that the world has to offer.
As for the grammar thing, I think that most of us are so busy that we tend to let certain things slide and unfortunately, grammar and correct spelling seems to be one of them. We tend to forget that what we put online is how people view us – if we constantly use chat speak, then we’re viewed as…well, I don’t know. However, if we use proper grammar and correct spelling, then people presume that we’re educated.
I think it’s pretty stupid of a person that cannot tell the difference between your and you’re or their, there and they’re. Those are so simple to get. I see it all the time when I’m on facebook. It drives me nuts.
Reminds me of Schoolhouse Rock Grammar edition. They had catchy songs about different parts like adverbs, adjectives, conjunctions, and the such. Obsessing with grammar too much can be a bad thing, as you’ve stated. I’ve gotten better with age when it comes to grammar, but I keep trying to write like I talk and that presents a lot of problems. Lol
I can’t yell at everyone all the time(my friends, anyhow) about their grammar, because I don’t wanna seem like I’m obsessed, and it could be very insensitive of me too. I think as long as they are trying and can accept corrections, then I don’t see the problem of being observant of grammar, after all, if you don’t have it…then, you have a hard time understanding.
I already have a hard time understanding all my friends, especially when they forgo punctation. Sigh. I don’t wanna be accused of caring so much about grammar, but it helps at the end.
Good post! I hope you’ve been well! ♥