Thursday, April 19, 2018

My 10 Best Grammar Posts of 2016

As 2016 comes to a close, I’m browsing the archives for the best posts, category by category. Here are my best grammar posts of 2016.

The all-time top posts of this blog happen to be in the grammar category. If I had picked a narrow niche for this blog, that fact tells me that grammar should probably have been it.

But I like variety, so I write about much more than grammar, even though I think good grammar is very important in actually communicating things to other people. That’s why I write on the subject and, I suppose, why I’m enough of a glutton for punishment on the subject that I choose to work in a career where grammar is quite important.

Let’s have a look at the top 10 of 2016!

1. The ‘Singular They’ Named Word of the Year

We are more aware of gender identity than we used to be. We’ve become aware that to some people, there are more options than “male” or “female,” which can cause problems when you do something as innocent as select a pronoun to refer to such a person in a sentence. Some old-school writers hate referring to a single person with the they pronoun, but it might be a better solution.

2. Good Grammar Means Observing Language Standards

It has been my experience that the majority of people who wish to believe there are no (or should be no) standards of grammar just happen to be people who seem to be too lazy to want to follow them. But language is standardized. In the broadest terms, if language wasn’t standardized, the word chair could mean anything: What one person would call a chair might be a chair, while what others would label as such might be a house, a car, or a shotgun.

3. ‘Begs the Question’ Doesn’t Mean What You Think

Here’s a common phrase that is used incorrectly almost every time it’s used. It’s so commonly misused, in fact, that the wrong meaning has overtaken the proper meaning for most people.

4. 6 Annoying Clichés I’m Glad I’ve Managed to Miss

There are few on this list of unusual clichés that are so annoying that I might just have to smack anyone who I heard use these in person.

5. Where the ‘Coming Out of the Closet’ Metaphor Came From

In scanning the headlines yesterday, I spotted a couple of “year-end” articles and one of them was a list of the 40-some-odd notable people who “came out of the closet” in 2016. Personally, I look forward to a time when “coming out of the closet” isn’t necessary. But in the meantime, here’s a look at where the odd phrase came from.

6. Making It Plural? Ditch the Apostrophe, Please!

I see it all the time. I really don’t know why it keeps happening, and I really don’t know why I can’t just get used to it. But every time I see someone incorrectly use an apostrophe to make a word plural, it just drives me crazy, a fact which prompted this reminder post.

7. Is Instant Messaging Killing the Period Punctuation Mark?

An author of more than 100 books on language said one of our oldest punctuation marks, the period, is slowly falling out of favor and says instant messaging may well be to blame. I don’t take such news kindly.

8. Even on Facebook, Punctuation Matters

“Oh no prayers for the family.” That simple Facebook comment to a friend’s post prompted this look at why punctuation does matter.

9. Your Personality May Dictate Much You Hate Grammar Mistakes

A study found personality traits have an effect on how they interpret language and how quickly readers are to make “social judgments” about the writers.

10. Y’all or Ya’ll? The Southern Word Even Southerners Misspell

You’d think that if there were any place in the world where people would at least master the spelling of so Southern a word, it’d be the South.

Those were my picks. I hope you’re enjoying this week’s walk through memory lane.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 26 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.