Monday, December 3, 2012

Speak Well, It'll Do You Good

Growing up my mother was constantly correcting my grammar. It didn't matter if we were at the dinner table, in the car, or... horrors... out in public. I had a few bad grammar habits that were like fingernails on a chalkboard for her and she was going to fix me if it was the last thing she did! The bad habit of mine that took her the longest to break was my use of "these ones." For instance, if I saw something I liked and said "I like these ones," she'd visibly cringe and correct me - "I like these" or "I like this one." It took me years to understand the linguistic difference and get it right!

My children now suffer the same fate; no surprise there, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree! They have two habits that gnaw on my nerves. The first is when they confuse "I" and "me." For example, "Me and Joe are going to the show and..."
Gah!!! "Joe and I... JOE - AND - I," I correct them emphatically mid-sentence, and they start over and say it properly. I've grown so used to hearing them say it wrong, that occasionally I will correct them when they are right. For example, "That same thing happened to Joe and me." I'll holler "Joe and I" and then I see the wheels turning in their mind, and that sly smile they get when they realize they were right and I was wrong! I readily acknowledge my error, but relish that it got them thinking. ; )

My biggest grammatical pet peeve, however, is what linguists call the "quotative 'like'." That drives me absolutely bonkers. In fact, I find it hard to even listen to what someone is saying when the word 'like' is dropped into the conversation every fifth word or so. 
"I was like walking to like the corner store and like I saw this guy and I was like, oh, like he was like so cute. He was like 'Hey...' and I was like 'Hey,' and like so embarrassed. Like I didn't know like what to say or like what to do. I like just ran inside and like started like looking at like all the candy."
Honestly, at these moments I have no idea what the kid said; I'm too busy clinging to the ceiling from my fingernails and trying not to fall (thanks mom!). I'll get right in the middle of their story too. "You were 'like' walking? Does that mean you were doing something that looked like walking, but not actually walking? Were you skipping? Were you hop-walking? What were you doing? How did you get there exactly?" --- "Like the corner store? Was it not actually the corner store? Did you go somewhere different? Didn't we agree on the corner store? Was the store just a holograph?" --- It drives them crazy when I do this, and I inform them at least we are even in that case!

I believe that speaking well (oh that is another one, confusing "well" and "good", but I digress) is important. First impressions are often lasting impressions and they are formed not only by how we look, but how we speak. As a parent, it is my responsibility to teach my children to put their best foot forward. I know they find it
annoying to be corrected, I did too, but someday they will appreciate it. I know I appreciate the gift my mother gave me and someday my kids will thank grandma, and me, as well.

P.S. I just recalled the time my mother sent a note back to one of my high school teachers who noted I was "doing good" in her class. The teacher did not appreciate the correction! Ha ha ha, oh the memories, love you Mom!


  1. What a fun story, Megan. Doing good? Omlette that slide!!!

  2. This post is an inspiration to always include humor in my blog rants... Very nice indeed Megan!

  3. An enjoyable post. I think language is something most people interested in behavior find worthy of observation and study.

  4. "Like the corner store? Was it not actually the corner store? Did you go somewhere different? Didn't we agree on the corner store? Was the store just a holograph?"

    Haha!! I do the very same thing!

    Loved this post! Thank you for sharing!

  5. I can totally relate! It drives me crazy when people use improper grammer!

  6. I really enjoyed this post. Grammar rules!

  7. Like, I get it. :) I also tend to be a grammar nazi at times. But I also try to be flexible when I hear something and I know that it is wrong. If I can make sense of it then I let it go, but if it totally makes the meaning ambiguous then I try to explain the difference. One way that I learned the difference between "me" and "I" when I was learning English was that my friend told me to remove the "other party" in the sentence and hear how it would sound without them. That did the trick for me when I was younger.

    1. That's what I do as well, interrupting my children of course, "Me went to the show???" I don't tend to correct others, however, just my kiddos. I feel like it's part of my job as a mom. Though, on occasion, if my daughter and a friend are in the back seat both dropping the "like" bomb, I'll challenge them to speak without using the word at all; easier said than done!

  8. You make me laugh, Megan!

    I get after my kids for mixing up itch and scratch. Grrrr!

  9. = ) Love reading your posts....
    Hope you are all well!

  10. Hahahaha! Only Mom would have sent that note back with a correction. I never knew about that, but I almost spit my coffee on the screen when I read it. I can't stop chuckling about this. Grandma used to correct us too, so I suspect this is something that has gone on for generations in our family. I correct my kids often, and they are never very thrilled about it. Oh well, they'll thank me later when people can actually understand what they are saying!

  11. Megan, I love this post, but I'm a bit more forgiving. Your perfeption (sic) of ritenesse (sic) is ignoring the fact that language is changing constantly and if u (sic) get as angry as the folk who no doubt fumed at the idea that (this cat) (that cat) (yon cat) lost one of its qualifiers, then ur gonna B >:( 4evah

    What you and I think of as the illiterate "idiots" will actually win the language argument. And they'll also send the next Curiosity to Mars.

  12. LOL... I actually posted about that topic just prior to this one. Check it out: CREAM OF THE CROP