OPINION: Saying — and writing — it right, Squamish | Squamish Chief

OPINION: Saying — and writing — it right, Squamish

“Your grammar is a reflection of your image. Good or bad, you have made an impression. And like all impressions, you are in total control,”  said U.S. author Jeffrey Gitomer.

What is grammar? The word grammar is derived from Greek, which means “art of letters.”

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Grammar is the set of structural rules governing the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in a natural language.

Grammar is important, because the minute you open your mouth, you are being judged. Whether deserved or not, people may believe that you are poorly educated, simply because you say, “Me and her are going to the store.” You can hold a PhD and still have bad grammar. It’s not your fault, necessarily. Much depends on how you were raised and schooled, how your peers spoke, what
TV shows you watched, and what books you read.

If someone you know says, “There’s lots of trees in the forest,” rather than, “There are a lot of trees in the forest,” you may adopt this bad habit, just through osmosis. Is is singular, are is plural. This is ubiquitous, and you will hear it even from highly educated people, for example, seminar presenters, doctors, lawyers, and newscasters who make millions of dollars per year. So don’t feel bad (yes, it is bad and not badly). When something is repeated enough times, you cannot be blamed for thinking it is correct. And, if someone who knows better corrects your grammar, don’t take it badly. They are trying to make you a better person.

As soon as you say not only, be prepared to add but also, in most cases. For example: “She is not only kind but also clever.” Not only and but also are used to present two related pieces of information, the second being more exciting or interesting, as a rule. Kind and clever are both adjectives. It would be wrong to say, “She is not only kind but an author,” because kind is an adjective, and author is a noun. 

However; when you start a sentence with not only, it would be correct to say, “Not only does he play piano, he also writes his own songs.” In sentences like this that start with not only, the but is optional.

Finally, an example of a double negative: “I can’t never forget her.” Since two negatives cancel each other out, saying, “I can’t never forget her” means that you will forget her. Instead, the sentence should read, “I will never forget her.” I favour a positive spin, such as, “I will always remember her,” then you will never have to deal with this situation.

I hope this article will help spark your interest in acquiring good grammar.

Linda Gillies graduated from Sprott Shaw Business College with an honours degree. She held various secretarial and administrative positions within the provincial government for 15 years, and particularly enjoyed editing and proofreading. 

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