Despite high marks in 5th grade Language Arts, I’m no grammar whiz. I’ve grudgingly admitted that it is important to use words correctly in every day speech, as well as in the written word. Like it or not, people judge you based on your shoes and your grammar. Although I still can’t figure out why I shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition, I’ve made a conscious effort to observe the other grammar rules.
The problem is, with certain rules, the effort remains entirely conscious. For instance, I KNOW when one should say “him and me” vs. “him and I,” but it doesn’t come naturally to me when speaking. I invariably use the wrong pronoun and wince afterwards. I can barely refrain from smacking my forehead and chanting, “Stupid, stupid, stupid.” However, I am no longer going to blame myself for this lapse, instead I BLAME THE WORLD. Specifically, I blame the media.
Let’s face it, we don’t learn grammar from textbooks, we pick it up as we hear the spoken word. Over and over again, on TV, radio, and in the movies, I hear two common mistakes: the “I - me” mix-up (e.g. “She’s smarter than me”) and using adjectives to modify verbs (e.g. “He runs quick”). In everyday speech, our words are not pre-scripted. Most of our remarks run dribble out our mouths with little thought. However, in the media, especially in commercials, the words are written, edited, proofread, and then handed to the speaker. I find it amazing that in the preparatory process, these errors aren’t caught. For example, listen to the “Skillets” Jimmy Dean radio commercial.
This is my plea to the copy and scriptwriters of the world: Take your responsibility as the prime educator of our youth seriously; have your work edited by a grammarian. I’d like to spare my children the anguish of misspeaking and then internally berating themselves. Or maybe I’m the only one that does that…