I like grammar. I don’t care for the other portion of English courses, the courses where you analyze what an author meant by a particular word he chose. I can get behind grammar though, because like mathematics, it’s (generally) clear and obvious what the rules are. Because of that, today we are going to cover some basics that the general population, highly educated included, need some serious help with.
1. Let’s talk about apostrophes. Sometimes you need one; sometimes you don’t. This doesn’t seem to hang many people up when it comes to contractions; it’s the letter “S” where we start to get confused. Basically, we need an apostrophe to indicate possession of an item, or a contraction of two words. For example: “Today we are going to the Jones’ house for a gay wedding.” This is an appropriate use of the apostrophe. It does not come before the letter “s” because there is more than one Jones involved. It’s not simply a Jone. This is also important when dealing with people whose last name does NOT end in “S.” Case in point: “Tonight, we’re going to the Greenes’ for a pot roast.” See, there are more than one of them, so we pluralize and THEN apostrophize. Sing it with me now.
2. Let’s talk about where commas go. I like to talk about commas because it allows me to use two of my favorite examples. The placement of commas is extremely important. “Let’s eat Grandma.” is much different from “Let’s eat, Grandma.” That comma saves us from geriatric cannibalism. Or, another fun one is “The panda bear eats shoots and leaves.” This keeps us from having a false picture of the panda bear as a blood-thirsty, drive (or walk) by attack artist, as is evidenced here: “The panda bear eats, shoots, and leaves.” Commas are important. Use them wisely, but please don’t overuse them.
There are many more things to consider when dealing with grammar. However, I’d likely be exhausted if forced to expound upon quotation marks or sentence fragments today.
Also, please consider throwing me some wedding ideas. The minister will ask us about our ceremony during counseling on Sunday afternoon, and I’d rather not stammer, “Uhh, kittens.” and then look sheepishly away, or fake a heart attack into my sushi.