I tend to write like I talk, which is closer to my boots than my brain. As such (and despite the loving care of any number of despairing editors), I tend to run afoul of grammarians now and again (sometimes two or three weeks in a row). As I am on a lifelong quest for self-improvement (an area in which I have acres of room in which to work) and also truly do want to get things right (unless I’m feeling colloquial, at which point all bets are off), I appreciate anyone who takes the time to point out errors (including those in this post).
However: tone is everything. A thoughtful word is appreciated and taken to heart–although it is no guarantee against future returns (I play by ear, and am regularly afflicted with literary tinnitus). On the other hand, exultation, hectoring, neener-neenering or the sort of correspondence highlighted below will have exactly the opposite effect and may even trigger active recalcitrance:
[YOUR] article which started—-‘[BLANK] asked my wife and I’ for help “etc. Asked “I”? I read your column every week and couldn’t believe you wrote “asked my wife and I”. You surely know better than that being an ‘author”. If in doubt, take the sentence apart and ask did someone ask’ I’, or did someone ask ‘me’. Not too swift, buster…………….
The above quote also serves to remind us that anytime one fires off grammarial correctives, one does well to review one’s own prose for assorted typographical whoopsies. Neener-neener, as it were.
Oh, and beyond grammar, I’m also happy to hear about flat-out errors of fact or consistency: details here.
January, 2016: Just for fun, I’ve added Michel de Montaigne’s response (from the Screech edition) to the grammar grinders (in fairness he was responding more to errors in translation, but that final bolded line…delicious):
I do not, Reader, accept responsibility for misprints which slip in through the carelessness or fantasy of the various craftsmen; each hand introduces his own. I do not concern myself with the spelling (merely telling them to follow the traditional one) nor with punctuation: I am expert in neither. Even where they completely destroy my meaning, that does not worry me over-much: they at least take some weight off me; but when (as they often do) they substitute a false meaning and deflect me towards their own conception, they destroy me. So whenever the thought does not measure up to my own standard a gentleman should decline to accept it as mine. Anyone who knows how little industrious I am, and how far I am cast in a mould of my own, will not find it hard to believe that I would more readily compose as many essays again than subject myself to going through them once more to make schoolboy corrections.
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