Standards of grammar should be maintained

Lynn Moncus

While reading a review of a new book about English grammar, I was taken back to the years during which grammar was stressed throughout our school years. We were corrected by all our teachers, whether or not they taught English. They just seemed to take pride in seeing that we learned to speak and write correctly.

Well, most of us never made the major effort to be correct at all times, but those of us who became teachers of English worked hard to pass along the traditions by which we were taught. As I look back on all the red ink I used on the many essays and exercises I graded, I wonder just how many of those students benefitted. A few have mentioned that they still try to use correct grammar and still take pride in showing their knowledge of the subject.

The new book recommends that we take a more relaxed approach to grammar and that we may even create our own rules on occasion. Of course, those ideas would certainly be easier for teachers and students alike, but the teacher in me says we should try to maintain most of our standards and should continue to attempt to follow a few rules. Creative grammar and creative spelling seem to go along with the creative manners now used by many of us and also seem to help us on our downward spiral into chaos.

Since retiring from the classroom, I have relaxed in my speaking and writing but am delighted when a good friend of mine chooses to correct me. I have also become less tense in reading friendly letters and in listening to friends talk. Rarely do I correct anyone these days unless in fun or unless the person really should know better. I certainly don’t use red ink on friendly letters but would sometimes like to use it when reading newspapers and other publications. I automatically underline or circle errors in books and still note incorrect usage by the “elite” of our country.

Correct grammar still stands out and lets listeners and readers know that some people are not ashamed to show their knowledge of the subject. Those who continue to play word games in order to show their knowledge are also to be admired. Most of us like to hear our language used correctly if only we would take the time to admit it. In the meantime, let’s just keep reading, writing, and conversing!