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If you ever say, "they is," "we wuz," "he sound like..."

Contributed By:Dorothy Nevils maslivend@sbcglobal.net

Ewww... Brush your grammar!

Your July assignment, if you choose to accept it, is to improve your grammar, especially spoken grammar, by eradicating subject/verb disagreement. This assignment is only for those who seriously want to speak better. “Why,” you may ask, “just speech, rather than speech and writing”? Well, a wise person – “whodoesn’t matter – once said… or should or could have said, or… Oh, phooey! It doesn’t matter! I can’t remember… but the person was wise…

Now, I’ve lost my train of thought with all those questions! Just do it! Oh, it came to me: We speak more than we write. Therefore, poor speech will be your identity, kind of like bad breath! If your mouth is closed, folks won’t know you have bad breath; but, if it’s always open… Well, you know. Bad English is like bad breath; everybody knows it stinks but you! So, let’s clean up that stigma!

Assignment (do it alone… in secret, or with someone): Get a book, a newspaper, a magazine – anything with sentences – and a pencil or pen. (A highlighter may work better for you.) Sit down in a comfortable space, prepared to spend at least 15 minutes.

Draw a circle around (or highlight) every verb that ends with an S. You may remember that verbs express action or state of being and they are either plural or singular.

Let’s stop here and see how you would mark the first paragraph, which is marked for you. The verbs, in order, would be is, doesn’t (A little tricky, but remember that n’t is NOT a verb!)

Then look at the noun that goes with that verb. You will notice that it is singular. It does NOT end in s.

By now, if you haven’t quit, it maybe coming back to you. Perhaps you remember what your teacher – sorry, teacherstold you all through grade school, junior high, high school, and for some, even later! What happened?? Did you not believe them? Did you not trust them? Did you suspect they were attempting to waylay you, to deceive you, make you seem uneducated? Were they, in your mind, the enemy? Is that why you let everything they – the whole slew of them – tried to pour into your head run straight out as with a bucket with no bottom?

Let me tell you this: If you ever say, “they is,” “we wuz,” "he sound like…" or, are guilty of any of a hundred other aberrations heard any day of the week, there is no excuse! When I was a kid, there was a word for that kind of behavior – trifling… and that was about the worst thing anybody could be called in my house! Back then, it meant extremely lazy, good-for-nuthin’ kind of lazy! It’s still used today, but the meaning has changed.

There are times when anyone may be unsure about grammar. There’re a whole bunch of snares that can trip folks up. However, barring learning disabilities, for those who’ve had access to an 8th grade education, I can think of no excuse!

Listen to yourself. Listen to others. Pay attention. Be conscientious. Be proactive. Decide to take a certain amount of time to repair your broken English, a little at a time. Use my suggestion above, or choose a method. Then stick with it.

Remember that bad grammar is like bad breath: You may not recognize it, but others do… as soon as you open your mouth… (and there is no “grammar mint” for cover!)

Story Posted:06/29/2018

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