Friday, October 05, 2012

Grammar lesson of the day

I had some great grammar teachers when I was growing up in Union, South Carolina. (Do they even teach grammar anymore?)

Take my fifth grade teacher, for example. Here's a picture of my classmates and me at Foster Park Elementary. (See, you'd probably say "me and my classmates," or "my classmates and I," am I right? Bad, bad.) That's me right there in the middle, second row. Our teacher was Mrs. Mazyck (pronounced "ma-ZEKE"). She was something else. She drilled us over and over again on rules of English grammar. She would play these records and we'd have to repeat what we heard - endlessly. But I must say, it worked. I learned things that came in handy later on in high school, college, and now in my life as a preacher.

So from time to time I'll share a bit of my knowledge and give a "grammar lesson of the day" here in my blog.

For my first lesson, class, let's talk about something you're never supposed to say: "The reason is because...." That's incorrect, you see. The RIGHT thing to say is "The reason is that...."

Suppose someone asks you why you're carrying an umbrella. You could say, "I'm carrying an umbrella because it looks like rain." Or you could say, "The reason is that it looks like rain." But you shouldn't say, "The reason is because it looks like rain." That'd be redundant.

And that's why it's bad grammar.


kristinwithani said...

For three years I attended a private school where grammar was drilled daily. I hated it at the time, but now am so thankful.

The only issue is my judgmental heart in a world of poor grammar.

Mike said...

You make a great point, Kristin. God forbid we trust in "good grammar righteousness" or use grammar to put other people down.

Karin Tome said...

Please make this your new profile picture!

Matthaeus Flexibilis said...

Mike (and fellow grammarians),

Check out this back-and-forth on prescriptivism and descriptivism in English usage. The Lord's Prayer takes center stage -- should it be which or who "art in heaven?"

I like how the Economist's and the NYT's style manuals (n.b., the double possessive; cf. grammar lesson 3) say to avoid things like split infinitives and ending a sentence with a preposition, not because they are wrong, but because they annoy some readers. It's like the letters department got to put that part in to save their own sanity.