Words & Banter

Arrested … And Amused … By The Grammar Police?!

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My sister seems to think that I pride myself on the use of 50-cent words, but I don’t think I use as many of them as she likes to give me “grief” about. But if she wants to talk about vocabulary, I want to talk about grammar, and her frustratingly focused and ever-present fixation on making sure our posts are grammatically correct. And I hope she finds the humor in this post when she reviews it, although she’ll probably only mention grammatical mistakes (I guarantee the first draft had some), ways to tighten up my writing (OK, I like to blah-blah-blah), and other “improvements”.

Regardless, I work with the grammar police. And for someone like me, who prided myself on being a straight-A student, seeing that side of her (she admits she was more of a troublemaker than a student until she got to college), came as a shock to me. Over the years, my shock has been replaced with tolerance, but I was recently just flat-out … entertained by it.

OK, technically, it wasn’t about grammar; it was about her “issues” with the extremely popular software Grammarly and was in response to a comment from a trusted consultant about how Grammarly can be “a bit errant”. Please “read” that with a very British accent as the fact it was written by an Englishman is important in what may now be one of my favorite emails from Black,

Since I have used Grammarly for years, I thought I would jump in and tell you that I “feel your pain” …

1. First, it does not speak English, only American, and not always fluently
2. FYI, the British “style” is to put punctuation AFTER ghost quotes (my preference), but Grammarly insists on putting it inside the quotes
3. I found its recommendations sometimes change the meaning of what I am trying to say (its algorithms sometimes try to “correct” things that are correct but less commonly used)
4. I am frustrated that I cannot define a style … for example, I always use put a comma after “and” and “but” when I use them to start a sentence (Red does not), it insists on trying to delete those commas (funny thing is I am old enough to remember being taught you should never start sentences with “and” or “but”)
5. I hate the fact that Grammarly hates … wait for it … dot-dot-dot, aka, ellipses … as I love them
6. Our posts are conversational versus formal, but Grammarly insists on trying to make our writing more formal and have us change frequently used words to more obscure ones (I guess to sound more intelligent)
7. Grammarly also likes to “tell” me to change words because they are used more than once in a sentence, and usually, that is intentional (see prior item, as when I checked it on Grammarly, it wanted me to change “more formal” to “more traditional”)
8. I ended up removing the plug-in and now manually upload important documents, but do not use it for routine emails or working drafts of documents (I wait until they are “almost final”)

Well, only Black could make a list of commiserating reasons for a passing comment (although it did surprise me, she used numbers and not her beloved bullet points). But the best part of her email was still to come … (yes, I also love dot-dot-dots) as she has a way of perfectly summing up a conversation in the most unexpected, but often most amusing, way,

So, if you find punctuation and/or (oh, it does not like “and/or” and advises it is “frowned upon in formal writing” and I should consider using only one conjunction or rewriting the sentence) grammatical errors in my emails and/or draft documents, please do not blame it on Grammarly. And, know that I got an A+ in high school English … because … I flirted with my teacher.

After a busy weekend doing all those personal things that pile up during the week, I feel like I need a nap. But ironically, I never think about weekend naps, even though I could “rationalize” them as doing something positive for myself vs. feeling like it’s a “guilty pleasure” (which is how I feel about workday naps).

When I mentioned that to Black, she suggested I reread my post below (I still laugh at one of the places Black has taken power naps). She then added that it was a selfish request as she knows that my work, not to mention my mood, improves from recharging my batteries.

I'm sitting at my computer but I see our big black labradoodle, Moo (imagine calling for her on the street), curled up for a nap in an armchair. I look at her with love but also with more than a touch of envy. Because as much as the stacks of papers on my desk beckon (or is it taunts) me, a nap's what I really want, and probably need.

The reasons why are unimportant but probably familiar to most people. I stayed up later than I planned, then my sleep was interrupted during the night by Moo, a crazy morning filled with unplanned things that delayed what I'd hoped to have accomplished, which meant I was now working at full speed to "catch up" and I felt exhausted. Not to mention, this morning's caffeine had worn off hours ago.

You may be thinking, "You work from home, just stop what you're doing and take a nap." Well, it sounds like good advice except I'd feel guilty doing that, especially during a workday. A nap just seems selfish. Plus, I'm not sure how I'd explain it to Black, although she doesn't sleep normal hours, and does take power naps.

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Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

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Why does everything have to be such a struggle? Even a simple phone call to a doctor’s office. I don’t know whether it’s because I’m tired or getting older, but I just don’t have the time or the patience for this.

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Me, neither.

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