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By Gina Channell-Allen

Good grammar should not be relegated to one day a year

Uploaded: Mar 14, 2008

Darn. I had National Grammar Day marked on my calendar March 4 but was so busy working, it completely slipped my mind.
I'm almost positive Hallmark makes a card for this. It would read something like:

Roses are read, violets are blew,
I obviously missed National Grammar Day,
How bout ewe?

Dedicated to copy editors and English teachers, National Grammar Day is sponsored by the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar (SPOGG) and MSN Encarta. I'm somewhat excited by groups trying to promote the use of proper grammar. Being a former editor, I'm dedicated to countering the text-message grammar prevalent among today's teens and tweens. (RU2 old 2 no wat that means? me 2.)
I admit that I sometimes use informal language and dare to split an infinitive occasionally to make my writing more conversational. Should I straighten up and fly right? Er, I mean, fly correctly?
My pet peeves:
* Compliment versus complement. I cannot compliment the misuse of "complement.' Restaurants are notorious for this.
* Homophone abuse: Bee vary careful; spellcheck doesn't catch these.
* Comma overuse: Believe it, or not, it is annoying, and distracting, when you use too many commas.
* To "a" or not to "a": I was taught in high school to use the article "an" before the words "historical" and "hotel." If a word begins with a consonant sound, use the "a" article; if it begins with a vowel sound, use "an." That means a historic event, not an historic one.
Not many others share my enthusiasm for the English language and its quirks. I drive people crazy editing menus at restaurants, advertisements in magazines and signs. But those same people who ridicule me ask for my help when they have a term paper due or have a work-related writing assignment.
According to a few blogs, the SPOGG and MSN Encarta got a little flack for the idea of National Grammar Day. Apparently a few of the presidential candidates weighed in on the promotion of special day. According to the Grammar Goddess blog: "The Obama people are working on a statement on the issue now. McCain says we should bring back rulers to smack the knuckles of grammar abusers. Hillary has a 39-point plan to simplify grammar while increasing access to grammar education."
JK (Translated into English: Just kidding.)
What are your grammar pet peeves? Email me at [email protected] I'll share in a future column.

Gina Channell-Allen, a 20-year journalism veteran, is the president of the East Bay division of Embarcadero Publishing Company, president of the Pleasanton Weekly and publisher of the Danville Weekly. Send questions to [email protected]