Grammar police--help wanted...

Discussion in 'General Education' started by terptoteacher, Jul 19, 2009.

  1. terptoteacher

    terptoteacher Connoisseur

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    Jul 19, 2009

    I was with my sister this weekend. We were talking about manicures. I said, "My daughters went and had thier nails done."
    My sister kinda freaked out about my use of went.
    Is that sentence incorrect? I think that it's not incorrect. It might not be the best choice of usage, but wrong???

    She said I should've said, "My daughters had their nails done" without using the word went.
     
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  3. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    I think in everyday conversation, that's how we talk. It may not be 100% grammatically correct - it should be "My daughters went to the salon and had their nails done," or just "My daughters had their nails done."

    There are far worse errors that people make! Tell your sister to chill.
     
  4. WindyCityGal606

    WindyCityGal606 Enthusiast

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    Maybe went is ok if you include where they went in the sentence?
     
  5. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    I think I agree with Mrs. K, but I've always thought I was a bit of a grammar nazi, and I don't think I would have pointed that out in someone's speech... in a paper I might have said something, but like Mrs. K said, that's how we talk.
     
  6. msmullenjr

    msmullenjr Devotee

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    WOW, so many worse errors in conversation to care about that, but it is a little wrong. My biggest pet peeve is when grown people, professionals even can't use the right there/their/they're. Don't know why, it just bugs me.
     
  7. mom2ohc

    mom2ohc Habitué

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    the their there they're thing drives me crazy too!
     
  8. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jul 19, 2009

    Even if her take on grammar is correct (and I don't think it is, as long as you left the house and WENT somewhere for the manicure), she needs a lesson from Miss Manners.

    There's no need to correct an adult's grammar.
     
  9. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    You mean "There is no need to correct and adult's grammar."

    Contractions aren't appropriate in written formats! :whistle:
     
  10. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    No, I'm pretty sure I do NOT mean that.
     
  11. each1teach1

    each1teach1 Cohort

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    Does this mean I get to correct your correction?

    "You mean 'There is no need to correct an adult's grammar'." :lol:
     
  12. msmullenjr

    msmullenjr Devotee

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    Thank you each1teach1, I thought there was a point to that change. I get it, it was a typo. lol
     
  13. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    :spitwater:

    You got me with that one Alice and each1teach1! I copy/pasted... not sure how that d got in there :lol:
     
  14. each1teach1

    each1teach1 Cohort

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    well, it cracked me up because I read it and the sentence didn't make sense to me. I was like "what happened?" I had to read it twice.
     
  15. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    and my attempt at humour (or as you folks say it "humor") went over like a lead balloon... :lol:
     
  16. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    I care about the written grammar more than spoken grammar...

    I honestly wouldn't have pointed out the small "mistake" in your grammar. The only time I feel the need to correct is when the kids say something along the lines of, "I know she don't care" or "I ain't seeing myself winning no awards." I had an amazingly articulate and kind student who spat out sentences like that every once in a while in last year's class.
     
  17. each1teach1

    each1teach1 Cohort

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    As a language teacher, I cringe, but I only correct their english if it's absolutely horrible such as " She don't be doin' nothin'." To which I reply "Do you mean 'she doesn't do anything'?" Now, it's open season on their Spanish...
     
  18. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    It's possible that what offended the relative wasn't the alleged bad grammar but a possible interpretation of the original sentence (a)

    (a) They went and had their nails done

    --that is, is it is not merely a neutral report of the fact but also a disapproving comment to the effect that he thing done was either out of character (b) or, in the speaker's view, extreme or inappropriate or both (c):

    (b) Barbara must have been shocked when that Corgi bit her, because, although she's a lady, she went and called Elizabeth a word that rhymes with "rich"!

    (c) I fed that koi twice a day right on time, but last week it went and died.
     
  19. sumnerfan

    sumnerfan Comrade

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    Aside from my own children, I make an effort not to correct people's grammar outside of school. Unfortunately, my children feel free to tell their friends what they are doing wrong. We are working on that.

    I agree the sentence could have been better, but I also agree that your sister over-reacted. There are far worse grammar violations happening, probably in that same nail salon.
     
  20. Aussiegirl

    Aussiegirl Habitué

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    I teach in an area where many of the students speak the Appalachian Dialect. It is older than Standardized American English, which is what we all want them to use when writing. I've gone out of my way to recognize the authenticity of the dialect, even going so far as to provide a history of the dialect and some info about its syntax, etc. However I always stress that the way they speak and the way they write are two very separate things; the working world and colleges will expect them to be able to write using Standardized American English. I also tell them to be proud of their heritage. However, that said, I do try to lead the students towards more standard speaking through example.
     
  21. blindteacher

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    Phrases such as "She don't be doing nothing" and "I ain't going nowhere" are completely correct within the dialect of English these students are probably speaking. I would say those phrases aren't incorrect but are perceived as substandard by a lot of people. That way, as teachers, we can validate our students' various dialects while still conveying that speaking in certain ways might be more advantageous than other ways of speaking. :)
     
  22. blindteacher

    blindteacher Cohort

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    By the way, terptoteacher, I don't think there is anything ungrammatical about your sentence. We use the expression "to go and do something" all the time, and you were simply using that expression in the past tense -- "we went and did something."
     
  23. Lynn K.

    Lynn K. Habitué

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    My biggest pet peeve is when people use whenever incorrectly:

    "Whenever I went to the store last week, I bought a dictionary."

    Makes me cringe, but I would never correct an adult's grammar; it's rude.
     
  24. ambritlit

    ambritlit Companion

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    I don't think it's a big deal, either. I tell my students that we do not write the way we talk. I'm in Texas and I'll say I'm "fixing to" do something before I even think about it - LOL. That's a southern colloquialism that is rampant here. I'm 40 something, and old habits die hard... The difference is that I would never use that expression in writing.
    I detest grammar snobs. The goal of grammar is clear communication, not an ego boost.
    My favorite English professor cracked me up. She said that "y'all" was invented because there is no second person plural pronoun and we were smart enough to recognize that need and make one up. It's no more grammatically incorrect than "you guys," which is used widely. Neither of these is proper academic speech, spoken or written. She really taught me what it means to use grammar as a tool instead of a club.
    BTW - Contractions are preferable in informal writing. If they weren't, we wouldn't spend so much time learning them in elementary school.
     
  25. msmullenjr

    msmullenjr Devotee

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    Ok, the one weird thing some of my students do is starting a sentence with "No but..." when they weren't even asked a question.

    Tanya, please sit down.
    No, but I want to give Brandy her pen back.

    But she does this while sitting down, they use it as an explanation, not talking back. It still bugs me though.
     
  26. Missy99

    Missy99 Connoisseur

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    :haha::haha::dizzy::dizzy:

    We spiraling -- and it AIN'T upwards :lol::lol:
     
  27. Jen in NCal

    Jen in NCal Rookie

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    Spanish speakers? My class starts most sentences with "Because" because that is proper in their home language. I spend the first half of the year saying, "We don't start sentences with because."
     
  28. msmullenjr

    msmullenjr Devotee

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    Nope, at least not all of them. Some are bilingual. I am Mexican and I live in SoCAL so I am aware of the little things that English learners do while adjusting to English. This is something that EOs have been doing. I explain over and over that it sounds argumentative so begin by telling me no.
     
  29. terptoteacher

    terptoteacher Connoisseur

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    Well, no. She was upset that I used the word "went" . In fact, she said, "Went??? They WENT???? And you call yourself a teacher!!!" She was not upset about the fact that the girls went and done did had their nails did.:p
     
  30. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Oh, I see. Then she's simply being the sort of wannabe know-it-all who gives a bad reputation to those of us who... um.... never mind.
     
  31. blindteacher

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    I can't help but think she was just trying to one-up you, terptoteacher. I'm not sure what your views on following grammar are, but I know that a lot of people involved with the Deaf community have a broader experience with different types of grammar. Maybe you could explain to her that even though you're a teacher you also used to be an interpreter, and part of being an interpreter was accepting that each person's grammar is a bit different.
     
  32. each1teach1

    each1teach1 Cohort

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    I understand what you're saying, BT. Being the same race as these students, I understand them perfectly. The problem is, they write exactly as they speak and they try to translate directly from this poor English to even worse Spanish. I sometimes jokingly think that this dialect is almost like speaking a third language because you have to completely change the structures before others can understand you. I'm not trying to change them, but I feel they need to understand that in order to be successful in the academic arena you have to be able to produce academically acceptable English. I can get away with alot of corrections with these kids because I'm the same race and I use that to try to help them.
     
  33. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    I wouldn't correct an adult's conversational speech, but if I were evaluating a student's FORMAL speech or written essay, colloquialisms are unacceptable.

    Those who sign up for college writing or speech classes know in advance that only Standard American English is proper. To prepare for this, SAE needs to be taught and stressed down in the lower grades, regardless of ethnic origin.

    This can be done respectfully, but all too often people take offense anyway. Sigh. I don't understand why, either. When I'm at a family reunion, the southern dialects are thick and fast, and it doesn't bother any of us a bit.

    Formally, however? That's an entirely different topic altogether.
     
  34. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    ACK! But you CAN! Please don't tell them that!

    Because their other teachers have taught them never to start a sentence with "because", Ms. Silver's students never understand how to write an introductory adverb clause!
     
  35. msmullenjr

    msmullenjr Devotee

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    Ugh, a huge issue. I know that the state test for CA has had questions with that type of sentence and they continually think its wrong. I spend all year trying to undo that????
     
  36. terptoteacher

    terptoteacher Connoisseur

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    . Would you correct you little sister's grammar?
     
  37. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    If she was embarrassing herself with it, then yes, I would.

    I've been on countless committees and panels for scholarships, etc, and grammar is one of the many things we take off or put on points for. Many a student has missed out on something wonderful because he/she couldn't put a simple English sentence together.

    I've also had to decide who gets a position, and grammar is one of the deciding points. Why should any business bother with someone who can't communicate properly on paper or vocally, when there are so many others who have chosen to learn how to speak and write properly? I wouldn't.

    But to correct the grammar of an adult in an informal, conversational situation? It would have to be pretty awful, and we all know that it all-too-often IS. Sigh. Inexcusable, after a certain age and degree of exposure to others.

    I've had many students who learned to speak properly from watching television, because nobody in their environment knew how to use proper grammar. But these students DID IT THEMSELVES. I admire them tremendously.

    We learn to speak by imitating those around us, and we learn to speak properly by taking that speech and adapting it to the rules. I have very little patience or tolerance for ADULTS who choose not to speak or write properly in formal circumstances. I wouldn't hire them, and I won't pass them in my classes.

    By the way, many of my most superior writers and speakers learned English as a second language. They CHOSE to learn to speak and write it properly. It took a lot of hard work, which many people are unwilling to do. Those who choose to work at it earned their rewards and fully deserve them. Those who choose NOT to work at it? Feh. They deserve nothing because they earned nothing.
     
  38. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    In fact we don't learn to speak by imitating, exactly* - but certainly it is the case that we construct (or reveal) our own internal grammars based on what we encounter in the linguistic environment into which we are born.

    *For discussion of this point, see any decent introduction to linguistics, including Jean Aitchison's Teach Yourself Linguistics, Fromkin & Rodman's old warhorse An Introduction to Language, Parker & Riley's Linguistics for Non-Linguists, Anthony Burgess's classic A Mouthful of Air, R. K. S. Macaulay's sprightly and delightful The Social Art, or any of a number of books by Edward Finegan.
     

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