I guess I’ll be dating myself here, but I can’t help it. I was educated in the 60′s, and one thing they kept drilling into our heads was English Grammar. You remember Grammar, don’t you? All about words and how they fit together to make sentences. Grammar was about syntax, function and style, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, yada yada. It was about spelling, synonyms, antonyms, homonyms, contractions, and… hey, let’s look at contractions for a minute.
Something I have been noticing over the last few years is how English Grammar doesn’t seem to be as important anymore. There seems to be a lot more emphasis put on English Literature. How do I know this? I watched my two sons all the way through school and have seen them make these errors. Another reason I know is because I am constantly reading other people’s words and can tell that school curriculums either don’t include contractions any more, or maybe we should put the blame on the students who might have slept through the lessons.
For example, let’s look at the words could, should, and would. Further, let’s add the word have to the mix – could have, should have, and would have. These combinations have a shortcut, which has been deemed acceptable by those in charge of grammar (grammarians or grammatists?). The contractions are could’ve, should’ve, and would’ve. I don’t think this is too hard to comprehend – you drop a couple of letters and add an apostrophe. What could be simpler than that? In my mind, nothing.
So why is it that I keep reading sentences like the following – Well, if we would of been there, we could of done something about it. Do you think we should of? Does anyone else recognize the errors? And can you explain what could of actually means? If not, then it’s time you learned the truth. Just because we pronounce something a certain way, it doesn’t mean we have to write it like it sounds. That’s the beauty (or is that the horror) of the English Language. They say it’s the hardest language to learn, especially if it’s not your first language. Maybe so, but don’t you think that if English is our only language, shouldn’t we at least try to use it properly? What kind of example are we setting here?
Ignorance is no excuse. If you plan to make writing your bread and butter, don’t you owe it to yourself to make your writing as perfect as it can be? Do you think agents are going to drool over your stories if they keep coming across gross errors such as the above examples? If rejection letters are what you want, I guess you just keep writing the same way as always, and you’ll have plenty of rejection letters to read.
And don’t even get me started on acronyms. Yikes!