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Grammer: Why is it so bad?

Elizabeth Wheless, Staff Writer

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Grammar. That subject only seen taught in movies, old TV shows, or the dreams of English teachers. Grammar, unfortunately, has become a thing of the past.

No longer are we taught how to properly form a sentence, or which “there” is correct. In fact, many don’t know which “witch” is the “which” to use. Or whether “weather” or “whether” is the one to write into an essay. No one has perfect grammar, even the one in charge of writing this article. The proof? Look at the first sentence of this story.

One word sentences are not grammatically correct. Sentences have to have a subject and a verb to be “proper.” So, why is it that when drama or power is needed in an essay, speech or slogan, adding in one word sentences just seems so natural? There. Boom. It makes sense, doesn’t it? More often than not, what is grammatically correct seems stranger than what is incorrect. For example, the pronoun for “team” is not “them,” it’s “it”. Weird, right? Grammar is a roller coaster of exceptions, rules and revisions. For some, it can be hard to grasp.

“Grammar can be hard because [schools] don’t really teach grammar in schools today,” junior Rena Casey said. “So you be influenced at a young age to get it. Correct grammar makes writing sound more professional and proper.”

In school, students often don’t write on paper anymore. Most essays, classwork and simple assignments are written and turned in online. The beauty of online writing is that spell check is automatically implemented in the document. That infamous little red line appears, and it’s clear which word is spelled incorrectly or where the grammar is wrong. Due to this, one may think that the internet is to blame for bad grammar.

“I think that many people carry the relaxed nature/spellings of texting to their other modes of communication,” English teacher Anna Thomas said. “I think that the ability to ‘code switch’ ie. amend/adjust their spelling and grammar to suit their audience and purpose has been eroded as the internet blurs the lines of communication.”

Not all teachers think as Thomas does. English teacher Stephen Nichols has a different notion when it comes to internet use and accurate grammar. Nichols believes that the internet is not to blame for poor grammar, and that it is simply a matter of interest and time.

“I think people have poor grammar for the same reason that they always have–English grammar is difficult, and most people do not see enough benefit to learning it to put in the effort. Just as I did not bother to hang on to much of the math I learned because I do not use it very often, many people do not retain whatever grammar they learned,” he said.

The jury is still out on the cause of bad grammar. Though the root of the problem isn’t clearly known, what is known are the products of bad grammar. One place where bad grammar can be seen quite bluntly are student emails.

Students have been told time and time again to treat teachers with respect in school and out. This includes emails. Students still email using colloquial language as if they are texting a friend. Many student emails lack an introduction, reason for emailing and a “thank you”.

“Emails to a teacher of professor, or any adult who is in a position of authority to them should be addressed in a respectful manner,” Thomas said. “Often students begin with ‘Hey…’, or no salutation at all. Often no ‘Thank you’ or appreciation for a teacher’s time/ effort…These emails are frustrating.”

Even teachers are subject to incorrect grammar. Most were not taught grammar later in life or in college. This shows how long society has gone without a proper grammar lesson. It’s not the fault of those who didn’t learn, it just brings up the fact that somewhere down the line, teachers stopped teaching grammar. It was then up to the individual to continue that education.

“I think social media has played a part in the way we enunciate our words,” teacher assistant Necy Morris said. “Even as adults, we don’t stop learning, we just get caught up in all of [the media]. I think teachers have adapted to the ways of the younger generation. We go with the flow of things. We accept [incorrect grammar].”

That acceptance has led to the question of whether or not to penalize incorrect spelling and grammar. There is no set rulebook for teachers and their penalization. Some teachers count off, some don’t. It depends on their preference. Nichols, who prefers paper assignments, does count off.

“I mark errors on student papers and require them to correct what I mark,” Nichols said. “I do not accept student papers until the marked errors are corrected, so they do not get credit until they finish the paper. All papers that receive credit, though, get perfect scores after revision. Sometimes more than one revision is necessary.”

Along with a rise in online assignments comes automatic spell-check or a clear indication of misspelling. This immediate correction has given way to the mentality that grammar is no longer important. Many think “There is no need for correction on my half if my device can do it for me.”.

There are a multitude of reasons to spell words correctly and use proper grammar. For example, it makes one look literate. In college essays and AP papers, proper grammar and spelling are crucial because not only does it set one above the pack, it increases their reliability and credibility in their career field. According to “When Children Want to Punctuate” by L. M. Calkins, using a student’s own work as an example on how to correct grammar is more effective for students than using an internet copy. Teaching grammar in the context of writing is also more helpful than trying to teach grammar by itself. The study concluded that students are more receptive to their own writing, and the corrections that go with it.

English is a very difficult language. No one person, even those born into the language, is perfect at spelling and grammar. The first president of the United States, George Washington, was cited as writing, “we find our necessities are not such as to require an immediate transportation during the harvest.” Albert Einstein, the world’s genius, was also not the best at English. He famously said, “I cannot write in English, because of the treacherous spelling.” If Albert Einstein stated that English is difficult, than people know it’s difficult. The silent letters, mixed up pronouns and homophones make English a demanding language, but not one that cannot be conquered.

With the innovation of the internet and spell-check, it’s easier than ever for students and teachers alike to improve their English. Whether or not they want to is the problem. Time and effort have to be put into improving grammar. It’s not a simple process. English can be tricky, but working towards improved grammar and spelling is needed. That knowledge can open up a world of opportunity.

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Grammer: Why is it so bad?