Wednesday, January 13, 2010

a love letter to grammar

In order to train the counterfeit division of the FBI, men and women are given stacks of money. They flip quickly through the stacks, feeling the texture of the bills as they pass through their hands. They have to become familiar with the real thing in order to best find the fake.

I am an expert at spotting the counterfeit.

Not in money, of course. But in grammar.

I’ve always considered grammar a pretty black-and-white thing.

I think that’s why I love it so much.

Subjects and subjects, and verbs are verbs.

A comma goes here, sometimes there, never there.

Until now.

In my new job, the rules have changed. For each publication, there exists a different set of rules.

And I, who put commas here and never there, who spent years of my life diagramming sentences so I would know when to “spot the fake,” am at a loss.

I need to re-train my brain.

Because to me, grammar is black and white.

But here, it’s not.

The common, A.P.-style of grammar doesn’t always apply.

And, to make things worse, the 10th grade honors English-style of grammar doesn’t apply either.

It’s like they invented their own new language.

Which, I guess, is actually the beauty of words.

That I can say what I want, however I want.

With or without a comma or two.

1 comment:

Brooke Premo said...

wowzers! Where do you work? I am a grammar teacher now (I only teach grammar and no lit. - ugh!) and I think that lack of black-and-whiteness would be something to get used to,too. But hey, it might allow far more creativity!