I often receive emails from English Language Learners and others who use this column to sharpen their English skills. I have a suggestion. Sign on to the web site of any local, state or national newspaper and read the blogs under the articles. You will discover a treasure trove of grammatical errors you can fix.
Start by ignoring the ones written by individuals who haven’t learned that blogging is different than texting. Their entries ignore all capitalization, punctuation and grammatical rules and appear to be typed by individuals who seem to have been dropped here from outer space.
Read the entries from bloggers who understand the basic mechanics of writing. Then sift through their sentences and try to find the English errors. Remember that you don’t have to agree or disagree with their comments. Stick to the task of guarding our grammar.
I thought I’d get you started with some comments I took from a couple of newspaper sites. You will see that blogs are ripe with grammatical errors.
1. From a story about a waitress who stole credit card information from customers:
White crimes are more advance. Also I don’t trust cashiers in many stores, bars and eating establishments. They either give you the wrong change, charge you for items you not buying, scam you on lotto tickets. This practice is done alot in the RGV…
In the first sentence, change “advance” to “advanced.” Next, a comma should be placed after “Also” whenever it is the first word in the sentence. In the third sentence, “for items you not buying” should read “for items you’re not buying” and there should be an “or” after the last comma. Always remember that when you have a list of items, you need to include “and” before the last item if the list includes all items. If there is a choice of items from the list, use an “or” before the last item on the list. The final sentence in this example includes one of the greatest offenses in the English language. “Alot” is NEVER a word. It is two words…a lot…always.
Many employee’s were stealing credit card numbers.
Another common English error is confusing possessive nouns with plural nouns. In this sentence, the writer indicates there was more than one employee, which makes it a plural. For a plural, merely add an “s.” No apostrophe is needed. This sentence should read, “Many employees were stealing credit card numbers.”
2. From a story about the current immigration debate:
You dont go infront of the senate with out doing your homework.
Like many people today, bloggers seem to have difficulty deciding when to use apostrophes and when to avoid them. There is no such word as “dont.” It is “don’t.” Perhaps the second error in the sentence was a typographical error because it’s rare to see “infront” written as one word. It should be “in front.” The second is-it-one-word-or-two confusion is more common. “With out” should be written “without.” Finally, “senate” is incorrect because it should always be capitalized.
3. From an article about the Houston teacher videotaped beating her student:
Apology will not get her job back. A little to late.
Along with “alot,” the incorrect usage of to and too is high on the scale of common grammatical errors. Any time something is “too” much of anything, you need two o’s (Get it? Too many o’s=too much.) Too late, too silly, too much. In this blog entry, “A little to late” is also an incomplete sentence. It is OK to do that when stressing a point or in creative writing. Normally, it would be correct to write, “It’s a little too late.”
There is always two sides to a story
This is an agreement error. Two sides “are.” The sentence should read, “There “are” two sides to a story.
Read some online blogs, and you will stay busy for hours trying to Guard Our Grammar.
Chris Ardis is a full-time teacher and a freelance writer. Visit her web site at www.chrisardis.com.