I know what you’re thinking – my posts have been super sparse lately and when I finally put something up, it’s about National Grammar Day?
March 4th is National Grammar Day! I really believe that knowing how to write decently, which includes practicing basic spelling and grammar rules, helps you in every area of your life. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read an application, a term paper, or a colleague’s email and cringed because of the misuse of common language conventions. It’s not because I’m a snob. It’s because I think that schools should do a better job of teaching students how to write articulately. When you write clearly and correctly you express yourself better, you look like you know what you’re talking about, and you present yourself in a much better light.
So in honor of National Grammar Day, here are some rules that I see broken all the time that are SIMPLE and EASY TO REMEMBER:
Nope. Never use this. IT’S NOT A THING.
Comprise is another word for “include” or “contain.” You would never say “include of” because it sounds dumb.
“My blog is comprised of awesome grammar tips.” This is wrong and makes me sound like a douche. Instead, I would say: “My blog comprises awesome grammar tips.”
In your head, replace “comprise” with “include” and see if it works. If it does, you can use “comprise.” “Comprise” is a fancy word and makes you look smart (if used correctly).
*Important note: as Grammar Girl reminded me, the item that is the whole comes first in the sentence, while the part comes second:
“The house comprises four rooms.” (Yes!)
“Four rooms comprise the house.” (No.)
That Vs. Which
Most people won’t really notice if these are used incorrectly since they seem almost interchangeable. But since it’s National Grammar Day and good grammar makes you look smart, here is the super simple rule for that vs. which:
That = necessary information
Which = additional, nice information, but not necessary
How do you know if the information is necessary? If it changes the meaning of a sentence, then it is necessary.
“The cat, which had orange stripes, was very playful.” (The fact that the cat had orange stripes is not necessary information.)
“The cat that had the orange stripes was very playful.” (This is a different sentence than the one above. Here, we can infer that there are multiple cats, and if the clause is left out, we wouldn’t know which one the speaker was talking about.)
The Oxford Comma
Can we do the world a favor and try to implement the Oxford Comma as widely as possible? The Oxford Comma, also know as the serial comma, is the *optional* comma before the word “and” at the end of a list. It almost always helps to make a sentence clearer, especially if there are multiple items contained within the list.
I’m not an expert grammarian but there are plenty out there on the internet. Two of my go-to sites when facing a grammar conundrum are Grammar Girl and grammarbook.com.
Here, have some grammar crackers.