By Sarah Ann Binning

People have been arguing over grammar since the beginning of time. I’m sure early arguments sounded something close to this:

Eve: Can I try an apple?

God: You mean may you try an apple?

Eve: Yes, may I?

God: NO! Do not eat from the beautiful tree in the center of Eden.

Everyone has his/her opinion about grammar. And of course, there are those people who HAVE to be right. All the time. No matter what.

Setting out to write a grammar blog is no easy task. To accomplish a successful, correct, informative message one must study, research, study and then research some more. Writing about proper English, means undertaking a life-long challenge to learn and perfect my own problems with grammar.

Errors and writing a grammar blog are like peanut butter and jelly. Whenever you write about  proper grammar, spelling, their uses and rules you also encounter errors. However, there is hope. I recently learned of Hartman’s Law of Prescriptivist Retaliation. In his online column, Words & Stuff, Jed Hartman first coined the phrase Hartman’s Law (or as I like to call it, the PB&J effect). “[A]ny article or statement about correct grammar, punctuation, or spelling is bound to contain at least one error.”

Hartman, isn’t the only individual who recognized this phenomenon. Erin McKean (“Verbatim” editor and Dictionary Evangelist) coined McKean’s Law: “Any correction of the speech or writing of others will contain at least one grammatical, spelling, or typographical error.”

Similarly, Skitt’s Law (originating from alt.usage.english contributor Skitt) states “spelling or grammar flames always contain spelling or grammar errors.”

[NOTE: All sources I read regarding these three PB&J effects expressed that these authors came to these conclusions independently from each other.]

Don’t you hate those people who jump at the chance to correct your grammar? It’s like they wait for you to slip so they can shove your mistakes down your throat, pin you to the ground and laugh in your face. Brutal. Trust me, I know.

Most often, my high-school self, encountered those types of people. As a 4.0 student, people always loved correcting me when I misspoke.  They had that smug look that broadcast their thought “and you’re valedictorian?!” Those people are the reason I started this blog. I’m no genius. I’m human. I make mistakes. But, (cue inspirational, heart-warming music) I want to learn. Writing this blog has challenged me to think about grammar daily. I’m conditioning myself to be a stronger writer and a solid speaker.

I just pray I don’t become one of those laugh-in-your-face-grammar-gloating bitches.

And readers, just so we’re clear, you are not included in that group of gloating female dogs.

No matter what you call it, Hartman, McKean or Skitt’s Law, I am filled with renewed hope. They remind me that no human is perfect. While I will edit with more diligence, I will not beat myself up over some minor missed mistakes. (I will however, give myself a stern talkin’ to, when I mess up big time). Please, I continue to encourage you to help me improve.  I appreciate the feedback you all are leaving. I can learn about my weaknesses from the grammatical errors readers catch.

Just always remember to practice humility. Someday you’ll slip up too and someone will correct you.

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