I do a lot of writing. I write for my own blog. I write for my dog’s blog (or at least I edit her writing!). I write for my clients’ blogs and websites. Writing quality content is probably one of my favorite parts of my work. I should have known that this would be the case when I was as young as eighth grade. My English teacher asked me if I wanted to work with her outside of school because she thought that my writing was excellent. I completed extra assignments and, throughout my education, I always got good grades in English and Language Arts.
Part of this has to do with my parents’ influence on me. Both of them are sticklers for using the English language properly. I suppose the apple does not fall far from the tree. When I was growing up (and even still!), my Mom would say, “Say it again.” if I spoke incorrectly. Every once in a while, I will hear her slip up and I will turn that sentence against her and tell her to say it again. Never could I say something like, “I did my homework quick.” My Mom would say, “-ly.” as soon as I was done speaking and I would repeat the sentence in its correct form: “I did my homework quickly.”
It really does sound quite militant as I write about it now but I am happy that I have a thorough understanding of the English language. There are a few drawbacks, though. I cannot even tell you how many people do not know how to use adverbs and how often I hear myself adding, “-ly.” to others’ sentences. Of course, I do this in my head but those two little letters seem to haunt me as other people talk. I have to bite my tongue whenever I want to say, “Say it again.” to people. I will not even get started on editing the written word. It is as though errors jump out at me. That is great when I am getting paid to edit a document but when I am reading a heartfelt card that someone has written for me, the last thing that I want to see is a glaring preposition at the end of a sentence.
As I look through my Facebook News Feed, I notice that it is full of errors. I am not the grammar police but sometimes I wonder if people are actually aware that their writing has so many mistakes. I know that a lot of my friends are professionals so I cannot imagine that they would want grammar goofs but it is not my place to make corrections.
Aside from the fact that these faux pas jump out at me all the time, I sometimes wonder if appreciating the English language so much hinders some of my writing. For example, I was taught that a writer should only use contractions when writing very informally. Therefore, I have never used a contraction on this blog. Would it be easier to write if I allowed myself to use contractions? Of course! Would some of my sentences flow better if I relaxed my writing style? Absolutely. Do I spend a lot of time rearranging words and entire thoughts because I want the language to be perfect? Yes!
Making the transition to less formal writing is a big decision for me, though. I know that people are supposed to blog for their audiences as if they are having conversations with them but I worry about compromising the integrity of the English language. If society’s writers start easing up on accuracy then what can we expect from everyone else? Would the use of proper grammar completely crumble? Will informal use of the English language become the new formal, forcing us to find a NEW kind of informal? That concerns me.