Saturday, November 28, 2009

Grammar Detective

I was listening to CBC radio a few days ago, and a popular Alberta based journalist covering the Grey cup festivities in Calgary commented, “I hope there is some Albertans there.” I was quite surprised that she had made this seemingly obvious mistake with her subject verb agreement (take a quiz), but I can only imagine how many similar errors I would make if my spoken word was under constant scrutiny.

Since September I have had a higher sensitivity to errors in published material, and have found myself mentally correcting the written mistakes of others. I am fairly happy that I have evolved to this point; when I began the program I felt quite overwhelmed with my inadequate editing and proofreading skills (I still have a long way to go).

I was most surprised with the errors that I found on a government site while I was doing some research on the H1N1 vaccination issues; however, when I went back to look at it again, it had been updated with more relevant information. I guess that saved the Ministry of Health and Wellness from ending up in a PROW 100 blog (sort of). I thought that of all sources, the government would be a little more diligent in their efforts to minimize error (ha ha).

Yesterday I was flipping through Jamie Oliver’s Happy Day’s with the Naked Chef cook book, and noticed that on every single page there were grammatical errors of some kind. It didn’t bother me too much, considering it’s not his grammatical ability that makes him so darn lovable (and no it’s not the naked factor either). He happens to have some pretty tasty recipes, and his books have interesting photography and anecdotes. Check out this page, and leave a comment of any errors you see.

Over the term I have noticed that the Social Science Research Methods text also contains numerous errors on many of the pages; what do you think about that?

Lastly, here is an example of a note that was sent home with my son from his after school program. I’m grateful that the care he receives there is no way correlated with their grammar mistakes (sorry guys)!
It's important to remember (as Sarah does in her "grammar detective" blog) that "to err 'truly' is human."


  1. The concept of subconscious editing of published writing is something that is happening to me also... I'm not sure if this is a good thing necessarily (although, I am more aware of mistakes), but it can really detract from an otherwise well-written piece. :D

  2. Your remarks about how easy it can be to make grammar mistakes in spoken word, especially in situations like radio are interesting. I think it definitely makes sense for spoken word to have more mistakes in it, because speech is generally less thought out than the written word is. When we write we generally make conscious choices about our wording, whereas when we speak, a lot of the time we don't think very carefully about how we are saying what we want to say.

    Additionally, I'm glad that you mentioned the missuse of "there is," because it is one of my number one pet peeves about improper grammar.

  3. It's interesting how many text books contain grammatical errors. It’s a little ironic that books that are so widely used for education seem to be lacking in that department. A proficient understanding of the English language is a prerequisite for most educational programs, so why don't text book demonstrate the same?

  4. Jamie Oliver is a fantastic chef. I have one of his books and it's fantastic, grammatical errors or not.

    It seems, from reading these blogs, that our position as professional writers is important to society.