Why do I teach American grammar to grownups? To business professionals?
As my mother constantly asked, “Didn’t everyone learn it in school?”
Well, first of all, no. We didn’t all learn it in school, and there are several reasons for that. Yes, the teachers tried, but there’s a huge difference between teaching and learning.
Second, the last time most of were exposed to grammar was about eighth grade, after which we were often told by our creative writing teachers that we should just express ourselves and not worry about those pesky punctuation details.
And in eighth grade most of us were 13 or 14, our hormones were raging; we were likely much more interested in the cute boy or girl next to us to listen to any lessons given by anyone over 25.
How could we have known then that we’d grow up to care about the stuff teachers taught us, especially things like grammar? We weren’t listening back then, and it’s been maybe 20, 30, or 40 years since “back then” anyway. Who remembers exactly what we were taught?
Your nose just twitched …
Third, we often decide how to write or speak based on “what everyone else does.”
The problem with doing that? Most of us are smart, but we’re not always smart in the same way. Following the HR VP’s way of using semicolons, for instance, might not work because she’s smart as a whip with people and HR issues, but not so smart about American punctuation rules.
Am I right?
And fourth, American grammar is different from other variations of English grammar. We have some rules (especially those concerning the use of quotation marks), some spelling (humor or humour, realize or realise), and some usage differences that are just part of our way of speaking or writing.
As we are more and more a global community, we often see articles written in a different version, and if we’re not sure about our own system, we can get confused about what we’re supposed to do here.
So the burning question: Why do I teach American grammar?
I teach American grammar and usage so my clients will look and sound as smart as they are. It’s that simple.