Good Grammar Is . . .
Tuesday March 31, 2015

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“Your grammar is a reflection of your image. Good or bad, you have made an impression. And like all impressions, you are in total control.” –Jeffrey Gitomer

I can still remember my mom correcting  me as a child about the proper order of a noun and the first person pronoun in the subject, “Sophia and I”, not “Me and Sophia”. Argh! Why did it matter? my 12 year old self would mutter under my breath. But as I’ve grown up, learned from making many mistakes and mispronunciations along the way as well as being reminded by readers of typos here on TSLL, I’ve come to the realization that there is a magnificent power behind the words we chose choose.

But wait a second, you may be saying, being pedantic isn’t attractive either, and I would wholeheartedly agree. But as someone who loves to dance with words, circles words in articles and books so as to look them up and add to my vocabulary, I may be a bit bias on the allure of elevated diction and proper syntax. But the key is to know your audience. In a professional setting: an interview or presentation, speaking properly and writing properly, builds confidence and credibility. And more importantly, when it comes to communication, choosing the precise word conveys the intended mood, tone or image in the listener/reader’s mind.

I think Stephen Fry explains it best in the video below: have fun with language, use it as you will, but don’t be intimidated by it and don’t use it to wield superiority over others.

So, it is okay to misspell from time to time? After all, the auto-correct is always quick to assume and humiliate (at least that’s what I’m going to blame it on). Absolutely. A grammar or spelling critic, quite honestly, can be a wet blanket. We all have slips of the fingers on the keys. But sometimes we just want to know and learn. When should we use fewer vs. less? There are many rules I am continually brushing up on, and as an English teacher, one of the greatest angsts is the expectation of perfection. But I’ve come to find peace with the fact that I am human, and will always have something to learn. So long as I remain open to constructive criticism and do my best, that is all I can do.

With that said, I would like to invite you to join me on the journey of the English language. After all, there are many questions, broken rules and oddities that simply require memorization. And who doesn’t want to add one more word (such as luculent) to their vocabulary to complete that Sunday Times Crossword puzzle or win a few more points on Jeopardy in their leisure time?

Just in case you’re curious . . .

luculent (adj) – of speech or writing, clearly expressed

EX: The guest speaker’s brilliant, luculent commencement address brought the class of 2015 to their feet.

With the invitation extended, a new series has begun here on TSLL blog. Each post will remain short (today’s is an exception), with one grammar lesson or word of the week to inspire and bolster your vocabulary or remind you of a word to consider using more often.

All grammar lessons and vocabulary terms will be archived in the “English” category, should you want to peruse them once a handful have accumulated. So here we go!


While this week’s lesson is less of a proper usage rule and more of a phonetic guide, it is something that for me was initially intimidating and foreign. For my European readers, the umlaut and diaeresis are more commonly seen, but for American readers, the only publication that vows to continue to use each religiously is The New Yorker. Either way, once we know, then we can observe it as a helping hand as we nonchalantly pronounce the word in question exactly as it was designed.



29 thoughts on “Good Grammar Is . . .

  1. I find that the effort to exhibit good grammar is usually used by the same people who exhibit good manners. It’s a matter of how you want to present yourself to others.

  2. Love this addition to the blog! I take photos on my phone of words I come across in books or articles that I want to look up and potentially add to my vocabulary.

  3. Brava brava! What a terrific idea Shannon.

    I loved the Stephen Fry video, I love Stephen Fry so loving the video was a given.

    BTW, if you haven’t seen Mr Fry in “Kingdom” I recommend the series, there are three seasons of six episodes each.

  4. Shannon — I love this new section! As someone who loves to learn (especially English and history) this will be a favorite. I recently launched a blog called Get it on the Side. It teaches how to balance working full time with launching an online business and still having a life.

    In my full-time job as a marketing professional, you would be shocked to see the mistakes people make on a regular basis! That’s why I wrote this post ::

  5. I enjoyed Fry’s video. The only thing I would add to the conversation are concerns best explained by George Orwell’s essay, “Politics and the English Language.” Orwell brings up English language usage problems which are not petty infractions but potentially dangerous.

  6. I will look forward to this! I do make mistakes on my blog, and even though I check and re-check, they sometimes slip by, but it is humiliating when I discover a mistake. Now that I am writing for a small publication, I push even harder to get it all CORRECT! That second word – die heiress – is probably one I won’t store in my memory bank, but I just love knowing about it!!!

  7. Great post and series Shannon. I don’t think it’s ever too much to learn the proper way to speak and write. English is not my first language, so I’m always eager to learn.

  8. Great post and a wonderful initiative. Though I am very well read and educated, I still have difficulties with spelling and grammar. My school abandoned teaching English Grammar and spelling back in year 8. Whilst I was delighted at the time, I so wish we had kept learning this vital skill!! I look forward to you language snippits.

  9. oh, this is very nice Shannon. As a blogger, proper written grammar is absolutely important. But, I’ve recently started producing videos too so need my spoken grammar and pronunciation to be perfect as well.

    I’m absolutely going to love this new series.


  10. For a fun, fascinating look at language and grammar check out or any of the terrific books by Patricia O’Connor! Who knew English could be so fun?

  11. Great idea! Hope you’ll do one on misused “I feel badly.” Also time for “lie” vs “lay” usage. Those gym instructors are undoing what years of English teachers tried to teach us!

  12. I keep a small dictionary close by when I’m reading, always circleing words to look up, also a french dictionary, sense you have me reading more French authors.

  13. I love the new addition and look forward to learning new words and ways to use them. I use the Dictionary app on my phone to help with word pronunciation, being from the south sometimes my tongue and brain refuse to pronounce words as they are intended…

  14. Thanks Shannon. This is a great idea. I know from my own career (secretary to CEO) that speaking well is a huge advantage in business. Add a sense of wit to a well rounded vocabulary and you have a lot of the battle won.

  15. Good morning Shannon!

    I love this new series! This is one of my pet peeves as well, although I am trying to not be so harsh in my judgements of the errors.

    I did enjoy the video of Stephen Fry.

    Thank you for food for thought.


  16. This is great! I’m still learning English and wish to become rich in my lexicon as in Spanish; Spanish is my mother tongue.
    I enjoy listening your podcasts every Monday; now, I cannot wait for your next post on “good grammar”
    Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

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