Some grammar errors make me cringe in a big way, like when I am in line at a store and hear someone say “I didn’t like them shoes.” I get furious at the teacher who let that one slide in her class, way back in third grade. But then again, maybe the teacher herself said it. That makes me think of the impact of a teacher.
Back in the 1930s, when families were leaving the hills of Arkansas and other states in droves, heading west to greener lands, my dad was a boy. Fresh from Arkansas with his parents and loads of siblings, he was a fourth-grade back-woods farmer boy in New Mexico. His teacher didn’t sound like his family at home, nor did she sound like the drawling New Mexico kids from all sorts of backgrounds.
“You talk different,” he drawled. She agreed. They struck up a friendship when he asked her to teach him how to speak better. She worked with him as much as she could, this boy who needed to be back on the farm pretty quickly.
And my dad became the first boy in his family to graduate from college–he even earned his Masters–and he never spoke like his Arkansas family again (not that he was ashamed; he just consciously spoke differently from then on). He left the farm, moved to Colorado, and eventually became a school administrator. That teacher had a lasting impact.
I am certain teachers are out there battling the poor grammar of their students, but I sure do get discouraged when I see signs with poor grammar or hear conversations in public with language not fit for public consumption. Where are the other grammar nazis out there? Am I alone in my obsession? Is the fight for good grammar over?
Anyway, this gets me to my next peeve: the word “anyways.” I hear it all the time in conversation, and I work hard to keep my right eyebrow from twitching. This week I found it in a nonfiction book, in an author’s narration. Really? It passed the editor and proofer! Let’s get it straight: “Anyways” is not a word. Never.
Here is a word around which other words are wrong: myriad. The word is not myriads. It’s singular. Nor does it get the preposition “of” alongside. Never say “Myriads of people” or “A myriad of people.” (Twitch.) Here’s the fact: Myriad means many. You will not hear people say “Many of people” or “Manies (eek!) of people.” The word does not get pluralized, nor does it get that preposition “of.” You would just say “Many people,” just as you would say “Myriad people.”
Have you encountered a teacher who has slammed you for your poor grammar, who has taught you the correct way to say something? Thank her! Chime in here: tell me what she taught you.