So my newest favorite person is Grammar Girl. If you don’t know who she is, you can follow her all over the place. I follow her on Twitter, but she’s on Facebook, YouTube, and I’m sure she can be found lots of other places. She does exactly what you’d expect her to do. She is the ultimate resource for the rules about grammar that you need to be an intelligent speaker and writer. And, being a teacher of English, I pride myself on being the same caliber of expert in the field of usage and mechanics that she is. I’m introducing her here though, because, as my husband would tell you, it is hard to stump me. Almost impossible even. Ah, but she did. Twice. So, I’ll keep coming back for more. Why? Because Grammar Girl will make me a better English teacher in the way that certain people are good at Trivial Pursuit or Jeopardy. I want to know all the rules.
You want to know which rules I was following that were wrong, right? The first one I have yet to fix in my own writing. I still do it after every sentence I ever type. Two spaces after a period. Apparently that’s a waste of space. Journalists of today use one space. There is no longer the typesetting reason for two spaces after a period as there once had been for clarity, neatness. The problem is that the typing teacher who taught me in high school did a good job. I can’t stop my habits now. Maybe I’ll try. I haven’t decided yet. Until someone tells me that it’s really annoying that I’ve pushed the space bar twice after the period, I’m not sure if I’ve accepted the reason profoundly enough for me to change my habit. It would be like learning how to brush my teeth with my left hand. Not impossible, but I’d have to think about it each and every day.
The other piece to this error is that my students, representing the new generation of typing, (I guess we call it keyboarding now) doesn’t seem to ingrain any habits whatsoever. The home row. Saving finger strokes. Probably a lot of rules that I don’t even remember but do automatically. I’m teaching a lot of what I know about typing in my 8th grade English class. Shouldn’t they know this by now? Aren’t they keyboarding all the way back in second grade or so, like when they learn handwriting?! Or, is that obsolete now, too?
Back to the other rule that Grammar Girl taught me. It’s a comma rule. I’ve always placed a comma after a name that has a title following it, such as Martin Luther King, Jr. I don’t know why, but every guide to style I’ve consulted about comma rules says so. And, just for the record, I can rattle off a good five or six more comma rules if you asked, and I can tell you the reason behind them. The reason for this rule I’m not definite about, but it probably has to do with separation; regardless, I still followed it. So, Grammar Girl said it’s not necessary anymore to put the comma there. But, for this I know why, and I’m positive about it. The reason is that people stopped writing it correctly; they stopped following the rule, so it became acceptable not to follow it. I don’t have a problem with omitting the comma. What I have a problem with is dismissing a rule just because no one is following it anymore. Does ignorance rise above knowledge? Does laziness defeat literacy?
Please, Grammar Girl. Help me fight this cause so that we don’t all become oblivious to the little things that separate the writers who need to be correct from the ones that long to be.