Written by Katie May
What a day we had last Friday! Like most people throughout the nation, my co-workers and I enjoyed a day off, with pay, to celebrate with our loved ones and enjoy our holiday traditions.
What’s that? You didn’t have last Friday off? You’ve never heard of the March 4 holiday?
Relax; you’re not the only one—and I did not really have the day off. Even though March 4 marks the annual celebration of National Grammar Day, most people not only fail to celebrate but also fail to notice it at all.
To be honest, that’s not surprising. Grammar is something that most people rarely think about. We absorb it almost without noticing, as we absorb language in our childhood. (If you are interested in learning about that process of learning language, click here for information on a fascinating book, Steven Pinker’s The Language Instinct.)
Sure, our parents and teachers do their best to make us observe basic rules of grammar, spelling and usage. Yet most people master the basics they need to scrape through school and then happily spend the rest of their lives not thinking about grammar. No one on Facebook cares if you type “they’re” when you should have typed “their,” after all—and if you use Twitter, you quickly find that your scruples wither in the face of that 140-character limitation. Who among us has not been at least tempted to save a couple of characters by writing U instead of you?
In a way, it’s sad to think that we need a day to remind us of grammar’s role in our lives. On the other hand, it’s somewhat heartening to think that grammar ranks up there with grandparents, each deserving of special tribute one day out of 365.
I am not going to let National Grammar Day sneak up on me again or, worse, pass unnoticed. I will start planning now to mark the occasion in suitable style. It’s the wrong time of year to bring a tree inside—it’s too warm, and the needles would drop too quickly—and everyone associates decorated trees with that other major holiday.
Instead, I’m picturing the bulletin board above my computer monitor, festooned with garlands of dangling participles, with lively looking misplaced modifiers popping out here and there. I am planning an official parade, with floats representing parts of speech, appearing in proper order, naturally: subjects and then verbs, with modifiers following close upon their respective adjectives’ and adverbs’ heels.
When you start to think about it, you can come up with any number of ways to celebrate National Grammar Day next year. Whatever you decide to do, just make sure that you do it correctly.
Here is a link to a fun song, billed as the “official” National Grammar Day anthem. Listen through to the end, and you will hear great suggestions for how to celebrate:
And if you’re wondering what to give to that special nitpicker in your life, to get a jump on the celebrations next year or just because, look no further. Click here to discover all kinds of fun grammar-related gifts that you didn’t know you needed.
Do you ever get that “deja undo” feeling?
I recently became aware of the phrase “deja undo:” that sinking feeling you have when you hit “Send” or “Post” and realize an instant later that your writing contained a grammar or spelling error. Where do you draw the line about online corrections? If you post a correction, you may call attention to your mistake, but can you bear to let it stand unremarked? Share the strategies and guidelines you use to balance your nitpicky sensitivities with the fast-paced world of online communication.