Home > Humor, only slightly ranty, Random Musings, Writing > When Grammar ATTACKS!*

When Grammar ATTACKS!*


Imagine that you are sitting at your computer. (Not difficult, right?) You are typing something important. You are happily plodding along, making good progress, tapping out word after word.

Then, IT happens. Your mind decides to spontaneously implode. The reasons are varied. Perhaps you’ve been writing for too long. Perhaps you haven’t gotten enough sleep. Maybe you ran out of coffee and are drinking TEA. (Cardinal sin, people.) It could be a combination of all three, which equals BRAIN DOOM. That should not be confused with brain freeze, which is the affliction of Icee-drinking people everywhere. It is an epidemic that at least proves you have a brain. You’re welcome.

Suddenly, you can’t think of a word you want to use. You knew what it was, just a minute ago. It’s vanished from your long term memory, and you are floundering. You start to panic, and your internal monologue goes like this:

Parakeet? No, that’s not right. I don’t want to say, “The man in the coffee shop was looking at a parakeet.” That doesn’t even make sense. Punctuation? No. Penelope? No. Pineapple? NO! What is WRONG with you? You can’t even remember a simple would you’ve used a bajillion, trillion, practically infinite number of times?

It’s like your brain has been eaten by a Zombie Plague of Stupid. Mmmm, medulla oblongata…

When you eventually remember the word, it seems to mock you. You can almost hear it whisper, “Ohhhh, look how difficult I was to FIND. Your memory recall is shit! Shit, I say!” At which point, stop and assess. If you’re turning into the guy from the Shining, stop writing. Take yourself out of the house. Stay away from axes and all other sharp objects.

A short while later, you will be unable to remember how to correctly wield an apostrophe. Your grammatical genius has been sucked away by some literary kryptonite. A simple sentence that should read, “The monkey’s on the branch,” turns into composition-based HELL. Again, your inner monologue becomes a jumbled mess of insanity. (Inconceivable, I know.) Your thought pattern goes something like:

The monkeys’ on the branch. No, that doesn’t look right. Is that supposed to plural possessive? That’s not right. Monkies? No, that’s not even a word. What if I rewrite the sentence: The monkeys sitting on the branch. Damn it, that makes monkey plural. Do I want there to be more than one monkey on that damned branch? (If this is for work, your boss saunters in, munching on a banana, and asks you if you have that report done yet. You resist the urge to go all Office Space on him. After all, you’re JUST finishing it up now.) GOOD GOD. Think. Think QUICKLY. “Monkey’s on the bronchitis.” BRONCHITIS? Why the hell did you just type bronchitis? Have you gone daft? Clearly.

That will go on until your cerebral cortex takes pity on you and fixes your rather pitiful mistake. Do not, at that point, become cocky or complacent. The Evil Grammar can spring itself on you, like a mountain lion, at any time. You will be powerless to remember how to spell something like ‘caffeine.’ Inevitably, it will look wrong. You’ll try to spell it ‘caffiene,’ and then (like a vicious grammatical ninja monster) you will realize your foolish mistake – as your own idiocy pounces on your head. I before e, except after c. CURSE YOU GRAMMAR.

At which point, feel free to shake your fist. Find coffee SOMEWHERE, even if you have to steal it from your neighbor. For the rest of the day, attempt to avoid others. Your grammatical battles, which you LOST, have filled you with such all-consuming, frothy rage that you really aren’t fit to be around the general public.

*This is a repost from an old blog, but it’s one of my favorites.

  1. September 26, 2011 at 8:45 am

    I turn to chocolate on days like this. The worst is taking time during your lunch hour to get some writing done on your WIP and then, going back to work with your mind still on the story. Do you know how many times I find dialog tags in my technical writing?!?

    • Ali
      September 27, 2011 at 7:32 am

      Patty, chocolate is certainly a good thing! As for dialogue tags in work, hehe. It’s often tough to switch between the two different modes…

  2. September 28, 2011 at 2:03 am

    That always seems to happen when I least expect it, leaving me paranoid and thinking about whether everything is grammatically correct. Did I put the comma in the correct place? Am I using a semi colon correctly? Is it time to re-read The Elements of Style? And if I type out the title, should it be underlined, or in italics? Is my grammar okay, or were my years in school wasted? Will this cause me to deteriorate into typing in text speak?

    • Ali
      September 29, 2011 at 9:48 am

      Yes! It makes me paranoid, too. Sometimes, I have to drag out my MLA manual to double-check things. I’m THAT neurotic. hehe Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment. I appreciate it. Welcome to my blog!

      • October 5, 2011 at 1:16 am

        You are welcome, really enjoying this blog with loads of interesting things,

  3. Anonymous
    September 28, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    Oh man, been there, had that happen. (Just today, actually, with the word “propensity”) I hate when I can’t find the word I was thinking of, especially because any other substitute ALWAYS seems woefully inadequate.

  1. September 27, 2011 at 3:14 am

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