GrammarPhile Blog

Sara Richmond

Recent Posts

Falling into a Common Grammar Pit

Posted by Sara Richmond   Jan 14, 2021 10:12:18 AM

Pete Linforth from Pixabay" width="300" style="width: 300px; float: left; margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px;">“A linguistics professor was lecturing to his class one day. ‘In English,’ he said, ‘a double negative forms a positive. In some languages though, such as Russian, a double negative is still a negative.’

‘However,’ he pointed out, ‘there is no language wherein a double positive can form a negative.’

A voice from the back of the room piped up, ‘Yeah, right.’”1

If you consider the primary meaning of pitfall, a pit flimsily covered or camouflaged and used to capture and hold animals or men,2 and you continually commit grammatical faux pas (or fox paws as I like to call them), you may arrive at the conclusion that English is out to get you. It’s a cynical but understandable assumption, one shared by many.

After all, we speak and write a language in which “farmer” could be spelled, among many alternatives, “pharrembar.” Given the fact that “ph” makes an “f” sound, “arre” can make a pirate sound, the phonogram “mb” has a silent “b,” and “ar” sounds like “er” in words like “collar” (or “ur,” depending on your dialect or idiolect), this is a reasonable and logical conclusion. It’s also enough to drive people crazy.

Read More

Topics: grammar, grammar errors, grammar rules

The Worst Things We’ve Ever Heard About Proofreading

Posted by Sara Richmond   Dec 23, 2020 7:30:00 AM

We submit, for the sake of tickling your funny bone, this unofficial and completely made-up list.

1. Proofreaders are all elderly spinsters who love cat sweaters, yell at children, and only date men who are named Oxford Comma.

Let us use this as a prime example of logical fallacy. First, cat sweaters are loved by any sane person so there’s no shame in that affinity. Yelling at children is something most people do on occasion even if they vehemently deny it (little people run around with sharp things, sing at the top of their lungs four inches from your ear, and describe bathroom habits to strangers—all on purpose, for goodness’ sake). Finally, there aren’t any men named Oxford Comma, more’s the pity for those of us for whom grammar-loving men are relevant and extremely desirable.

I may have given myself away.

Read More

Topics: proofreading

A Failure in Professionalism

Posted by Sara Richmond   Dec 10, 2020 9:30:05 AM

I’ve come to confess. When I laugh extremely hard and simultaneously attempt to speak, I sound like a severely asthmatic pterodactyl. When I’m cackling over a bad joke* with my children or polishing off a bag of chips while binge-watching Netflix, it’s a delightful addition to the atmosphere. At other times, it’s a liability.

A couple of years ago, I was teaching an English class that went awry. My roster was filled with extremely dedicated, serious students, the type for whom a score of ninety was akin to a death knell for their scholastic dreams. While explaining a concept to a particularly sober young woman, I referenced the world map behind me. As I touched on the surface with the tips of my fingers, the clasp on the left-hand side broke and the map went catawampus. My eyes widened and I lapsed into stunned silence. I was overwhelmed by the awkwardness of the map’s precarious position and giggled. The student stared at me, deadpan, her lips disappearing into a thin line and her back ramrod straight. I attempted to regain my train of thought.

The map fell off the wall.

Read More

Topics: business writing, proofreading

Subscribe to Email Updates

Sign up for our emails!

Sign Up

Search Our Blog

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

see all