Thursday, April 29, 2010

Dear English Teachers of the World:

 Please quit teaching students that you "just add a comma whenever you feel like the sentence needs a pause." That is a lie, and it's wrong to lie to children.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go rip out all my hair and scream in desperation at the state of grammar in the world and the dismal future of grammatically correct students.

Edited to add: By popular demand, here's the link to my posts on how to do grammar simply. :)

22 comments:

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Here's an example that is screaming for a comma (I saw this on a car window in January):

Super Bowl Baby!

Unless there was a child born at the football game, I think the person meant:

Super Bowl, Baby!

PJ Hoover said...

I still think of your blog posts on commas you ran a while back. I, for one, would not mind you running them again (or maybe just link to them—they were awesome).

Kelly said...

I'm a newbie to your blog, so I second PJ's suggestion.
Please, run, the, comma post again.

Jemi Fraser said...

Commas can be tricky. I'm working on them now with my students. They want to throw them in willy-nilly *sigh*. I'll keep working with them!

c.a. Marks said...

WOW. Can you believe I remember being told this by some English teacher somewhere? Way back when.

Kristi Faith said...

Okay, now I kind of *wish* my English teacher had been so....inept. LOL Mine were all sticklers for grammar and proper comma placement.

I agree-children should be taught correctly from the beginning.

Alexa said...

I was told that in school, many years ago! I am still driving my critique partners crazy with it apparently I pause a lot when reading!

Please re-run your commas posts.

C.R. Evers said...

Seriously, I pause a lot! I've had to cut down on comma's because of that advice. Great advice!

B.J. Anderson said...

I would totally love to see the post on commas again. I'm pretty awful at grammar.

Kaylie said...

Can you also give the teachers a talking-to for teaching their students to add in as many creative substitutes for "said" as they can think of?

Theresa Milstein said...

I'm a math teacher today so I won't be doling out comma advice. I'll remember it when I teach English classes!

I'm, sure, it's, frustrating.

Scott said...

ROTFL! Sorry, can't help it. Your post just made me laugh this morning.

S

Shannon said...

Are they still teaching that rule? I thought they got rid of that along the same time they ditched the myth that you'll never get into a good college if you don't do well in gym class.

PrinceofDarkness said...

I'm an English teacher and I don't recall that rule. I tell my students that a pause could mean many things, including the possible insertion of some type of punctuation, but they must know the rules before they just arbitrarily insert a comma. I believe your comment may be addressed to English teachers in the K-12 realm, although I have ran into several colleagues and fellow graduate students who never understood the rule: before breaking the rules you have to know the rules.

Angie said...

I had a speech/debate teacher that forbid us to use "said" in any of our speeches. She gave us a list of a hundred ways to say "said" without using "said." Shudder.

Cat said...

I loved your simple IC/DC rules. They stuck to my brain like chewing gum to a school table. I am truly surprised by my desire to learn grammar. (my subconscious screams "there's nothing worth being called grammar in English" but I won't listen)
Thanks, Beth, for the help. You're marvelous.

Tahereh said...

haha!!!

sing it! sing it loud!!

;D

have a fabulous weekend, lovely!!

Ann Marie Wraight said...

OOOpps! Beth - I was going to pretend that I hadn't read your post out of guilt....BUT - it was the "of the world" bit that dragged me back!

I had a grammar lesson with a 13 year old on Thursday and he couldn't get the gist at all - that says a lot for me - but he's a genius and had printed this joke on a piece of paper for me instead:

Passenger to a sexy BLONDE Pamela-like Air Hostess:
"Hi! What's your name?"

Air Hostess answers:
"Benz, Sir...."

Passenger says:
"Lovely name! Any relation to Mercedes Benz?"

Air Hostess:
"SAME PRICE SIR!"

He told me that he couldn't understand grammar BUT his jokes in ENGLISH "Is good, huh? Isn't they?"

Ann Marie Wraight said...

Forgot to say that I teach English in Greece and my students learn English as a foreign language!

Marcia said...

Just add a comma when you think--excuse me, when you FEEL LIKE--the sentence needs a pause?

I'm not sure what to do besides just groan.

Missed Periods said...

I know. My students seem to feel that inserting a comma is an emotional experience. I'll ask them why they used a comma and they will say because it "felt right."

Heather Zundel said...

"Because it felt right." *snort* I'm glad you've linked back to your grammar posts. They are fantastic.