How could we have missed it?! I should be fired! Dig out the noisemakers and party hats, Sunday was National Grammar Day. (And thanks to Thomas McGee who created the green graphic above as well as the keyboard graphic we’re using with this post.)

OK, stop laughing, I know it’s not something you ponder while you’re out feeding the calves, but you gotta remember we’re a newspaper. We work with words. Grammar is kind of a big deal. (But we’re not so prudish that we can’t use the word “gotta.”)

True confessions: I can’t diagram a sentence to save my life. I felt like I failed my daughter when she brought me her junior high English homework and that assignment looked like Greek to me. But I’m kind of a nerd when it comes to spelling and punctuation and subject-verb agreement. I mean, yes, I was the one who told the teller that the bank had the wrong its/it’s on a sign in its drive-through window. (Hey, it was a major regional branch. I really thought they should know [better].)

And I know some of you are grammar geeks, too, because a couple of readers, back in my early years at Farm and Dairy, would circle errors (in red pen, of course) and mail the offending page to me. Talk about Grammar Gestapo!

Just don’t get me started on homophones. You know the words that sound the same, but are spelled differently, like pour/poor/pore and rain/rein/reign. (The photo shown here was from a local daily that shall remain nameless, but not shameless.)

I’m really not that much of a nut. (Well, except for that time I highlighted all the wrong words in a permission slip the elementary school music teacher sent home, signed the darn thing and then sent it back. That wasn’t too over-the-top, was it?)

But your teacher was right: Grammar and punctuation do matter. Consider the lowly comma, and the joke that spawned a best-seller. About grammar. Go figure.

A panda goes into a cafĂ©, orders a sandwich, eats it, takes out a revolver, fires it into the air, and goes out. When the waiter calls to ask what is going on, the panda plunks a badly punctuated wildlife manual onto the table and growls: “Look me up.” The waiter finds the entry: “PANDA. Large, black-and-white, bear-like mammal native to China. Eats, shoots, and leaves.”

If you want to really live a little, you can celebrate National Grammar Day with a little comma karma: Go ahead, test your comma IQ.

Or you could join the Facebook group, Good Grammar is Hot.

Since we sponsored a holiday haiku contest, we thought you’d be thrilled to learn about former journalist Mark Allen’s annual National Grammar Day haiku contest. Here’s the 2011 winner:

Spell-checkers won’t catch
You’re mistaken homophones
Scattered hear and their

– Gord Roberts

And the 2012 winner is… drum roll… Larry Kunz, a technical writer in Raleigh-Durham, N.C. His winning entry:

Being a dangler,
Jane knew it would have to come
out of the sentence

You can read all 200+ entries in the Storify version.

So to end, I give you a blast from the past (for many of us): a few old favorites from School House Rock. “Conjunction Junction… What’s Your Function” and “Lolly, Lolly, Get Your Adverbs Here!”

And please, don’t search this post for errors. Their there.

Farm and Dairy Editor Susan Crowell has been with the paper since 1985, serving as its editor since 1989. Raised on a farm in Holmes County, she is a graduate of Kent State University.
Susan Crowell
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